The Washington Post

Handy home buying search tool for parents

Searching online for houses within a particular school district can be frustrating. Although nearly every Web site claims it can narrow a search based on school boundaries, too often the search return ends up being “Call School Board.”

Last summer, Edward Berenbaum, president of Century 21 Redwood Realty, launched a tool to search for home sales by school boundaries that utilized the most up-to-date technology.

“I had always considered school boundaries to be the ‘holy grail’ of real estate search,” Berenbaum said. “Yet as a real estate professional, I felt my industry was lacking in giving clients a way to effectively gather information on public school boundaries in one site.”

What set the search apart from the others is its use of geocoded boundaries, converting addresses into geographic coordinates for the most accurate results. Most Web sites base their school searches on data entered by a real estate agent into the multiple listing service, which too often is fraught with human error.

A recent search of homes for sale in the Yorktown High School district in Arlington using the school search tool on three real estate Web sites – Century 21 Redwood Realty, Long and Foster and McEnearney — shows how much more comprehensive using geocoded boundaries can be.

Long and Foster showed 93 homes available. McEnearney showed 73 homes for sale and 21 for rent. Century 21 Redwood Realty showed a total of 123 listings for sale and for rent.

National Web sites such as Redfin and Estately utilize geocoded boundaries but they don’t have the capacity to show surrounding schools and neighborhoods like Century 21 Redwood Realty.

“Along with increased accuracy, by displaying the boundaries of both the applicable school that the user is searching for and the boundaries of the surrounding schools, we are able to create a much more visibly informative search experience for our users,” Berenbaum said.

When Berenbaum launched the tool last summer, the school search function was limited to Arlington and Loudoun counties. It now has been expanded throughout the D.C. metro area.

To learn more about Century 21 Redwood Realty’s school search tool, watch this video.


Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.



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