Your Home: Virtual schooling has parents scrutinizing their living space. What does that mean for the market?

Let Chad Taylor guide you through today's real estate market.

By Chad Taylor

The hottest topic among many parents right now is whether or not their kids will go to school in person as the year begins.

Most Kansas City public school districts have already delayed the opening of the 2020-21 school year. Meanwhile, many private schools started the year right on time — and many of them in person.

As the parent of two Shawnee Mission School District students, I will say that the end of last school year was chaos at our house. Technology was not our friend.  On top of that, my wife and I were trying to run our business out of our home during the stay at home order with two elementary age boys running around shouting, “My VPN isn’t working” or “I have already finished all of my work” — and it wasn’t even noon yet.

I don’t blame anyone for how last year ended, but like most parents, I am very interested as to how this year will begin. As of right now, both of my boys will be virtual only. But when will we change to hybrid or fully in person?  I know the gating criteria, but when will that actually happen?  2020 continues to be the year of TBD.

We are currently investing in pod learning for our younger son to provide him with more structure and some much needed sociability. Of course, those programs are not free.

Which brings me to the real estate issue at hand: I absolutely believe that virtual schooling WILL have an affect on our real estate market this year, and perhaps for years to come.

How so?

Virtual schooling has families scrutinizing their living spaces

One fact that became crystal clear to Leah and me during the stay at home order is that we need more space. Our 1,800 square foot ranch was tight when we were all doing our work around the dining table. As a matter of fact, being at home for all that time together caused us to hire an architect to start plans for a pretty major remodel.  When we purchased our home in 2013, we knew we’d want to remodel it at some point

But what if your lot or home won’t allow for a remodel?

We recently had clients decide that they were going to sell their home because they believe their kids will be remote learning at some level all year. In addition, both mom and dad are working from home indefinitely and are finding the need for a dedicated home office.

Both of these needs are causing this family to reevaluate their living situation and consider a possible upgrade in space while interest rates are so low.  Families who were not considering a move are now seeing a move as inevitable due to school and work demands. This may create some much needed housing inventory, especially in the starter home size and price range.

Families considering private school may impact real estate choices

But let’s get back to public versus private school for a moment. I know several families who have pulled their kids out of public school and are now paying for private school due to smaller class sizes and the fact that each individual school can make decisions for itself versus a school district making decisions for all schools.

In my opinion, the SMSD has likely already seen some families choose different options due to the handling of their contract negotiations with our teachers. A pandemic like this one certainly won’t help their case as future homeowners consider one school district over another. Or perhaps more families with opt for private school, which not only changes a family’s home search, but also opens up the option of jumping the border into Missouri.

That being said, private school is not cheap. In some cases it is like another mortgage payment. As families take on the additional cost of pod learning or private school, might this also cause some families to hold tight due to the additional costs?  Honestly, it is hard to say at this point. This year is certainly fraught with uncertainty which in many cases can cause a family to hit the pause button on a move as well.

If you would like to know how your local real estate market has changed in 2020, please contact us today.