When it comes to buying a home, few factors are more important to a parent than which school his or her children will attend. Homebuyers often will only look at homes that are within a specific school’s district.

In the past, a buyer had to track down a school’s boundaries and then search for homes based on those borders. Now, a Virginia real estate broker has developed a handy search tool that simplifies the process.

“In many ways, it’s the Holy Grail, so to speak, of real estate search,” said Edward Berenbaum of Century 21 Redwood Realty of the search by school tool on his company’s Web site. “I’m happy to say I think I’m the first company in the country to launch it.”

Last week, MRIS also launched a tool to search for home sales by school boundaries, but it is only available to real estate agents. Berenbaum’s appears to be the only one available to consumers.

This tool makes it easy to identify homes for sale in a particular school’s zone. Interested in buying a home in the Barcroft Elementary School district? From the home page, hover over “Neighborhoods” on the far right and click on “Arlington, VA.” Then hover over “School” on the far right and click on “Elementary.”

Drag your mouse over the interactive map until you land on “Barcroft Elementary School.” Click, and see all the homes available in Barcroft’s district. Use the filters to narrow by price, house type or number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Click “Display” to see restaurants and grocery stores that are nearby.

In addition to elementary schools, you also can search by high school and middle school.

Links to reviews on www.greatschools.org and www.schooldigger.com are provided for each school, and you can also share these pages on Facebook and Twitter.

For now, only Arlington and Loudoun counties are available to search. But Berenbaum plans to add the District as well as Fairfax and Montgomery counties in the coming year.

“I like being innovative,” Berenbaum said. “Really, my goal as a real estate broker, my goal for Century 21 Redwood, is to develop new ways to meet new clients and service our existing clients.”

View Photo Gallery: A selection of homes for sale in the Washington metro area for around $500,000.