It's common to demonstrate a property's value based on the municipal infrastructure that surrounds it. When considering the value of homes, for example, we market how pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods are, how close a property is to the TTC subway line or bus, or how many types of grocery stores are available in the area. We even look at how close a home or condo is to a school. But have you considered how well the school bus service operates?
Waiting up to two hours for buses
An article in the Globe and Mail on September 19th, 2016 cited that GTA children were waiting up to two hours for school buses - and the delays are not likely to end anytime soon. This can be a nightmare for parents since they have to worry about their children getting home safe. The concern with this sort of delay is that it isn't the typical beginning-of-year problem that happens on an annual basis. There is a larger shortage of bus drivers than usual, leading principals to use their personal vehicles to transport students. In some cases, taxis have been called in as well.
Pros and Cons
So under this scenario, it might be a good idea to demonstrate the value of homes on the bus service quality. There are pros and cons, however, so let's consider them here. In this case, a problem is a pro, because we're able to address a prospect's pain point. We're also showing prospects a problem of which they may have never thought.
1. Deeply-entrenched policy issue
The most evident pro is that this problem isn't likely to sort itself anytime soon. While the government has increased its transport funding to school boards by 40 percent since 2003, according to the article, the president of Ontario School Bus Association calls this a 'misleading' statistic. This is due to the fact that these funds aren't enough to maintain buses or for wage increases. In addition, "student transportation lives on the bottom 5 percent of the education budget," according to Leslie Cross, President of the OSBA.
2. Multiple districts effected
Another pro is that multiple district school boards are affected by the problem. The TDSB is the largest one, and the Toronto Catholic District School Board students will still continue to face delays. Peel and Halton are also effected due to a driver shortage. This means the problem is not likely to be outside of the region you're buying and selling properties for your clients.
3. A Parent's Nightmare
Any working parent knows that for them to have to leave work in the middle of the day to drive to their child's school, pick them up, drop them home, then come back to work is a nightmare. Addressing this issue might be a great way to add to the value of homes.
4. Research is required
Here's the most difficult part of demonstrating the use value of properties based on bus service. It's not easy to get access to information about the quality of bus service. In other words, as a realtor, you might have to go out of your way to talk to parents who face this problem. You might even have to talk to multiple schools who might be reluctant to provide information. The best response to this is to tap into your network to ask if they can provide this sort of information. You might also alternatively find some valuable insight on Twitter or online newspapers.
5. The issue is being sorted
Now we know the problem won't sort itself out. It requires effort on part of all stakeholders. But, the Catholic board is seeing service improvements. Plus, with this unprecedented problem, we can assume that school boards will be more proactive in their planning so the same issues don't rise again next year. Notwithstanding, the pain that the delays have brought will likely be fresh in parents' minds next year.
Why providing this perspective is important
You might ask - and you should - "why is providing this perspective important?" As realtors, it is important to inform our clients, whenever possible, of problems and benefits associated with a home. In addition to the fact that this is the right thing to do, it is also indicative of your authority in the region. It helps you build a reputation as someone who is trustworthy - and if you've read our article on Instagram marketing for realtors, you know that people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Adding to the value of homes in a unique way to a home buyer is a smart idea and can build your reputation as a real estate agent who is well informed. Perhaps, it should even be part of how we calculate property scores.
Equipping our clients with the right context, however, is crucial. In other words, be transparent about the problem. Will it go away? How likely will the buyers be effected? And, for how long?
Think about these questions and see how you can add value to your prospect's home-buying process. It is, after all, a big decision that tend to happen one-step-at-a-time.
What other pros and cons do you see with regards to schools for parents? Share in the comments below. Use the panel on the left to share this article on social media.