Education
Realtor.com’s Mobile App School Search Feature: Godsend for Parents
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As a military family, we rely on mobile apps such as realtor.com for the iPhone to help with the most up-to-date househunting information. Image: realtor.com

In much of America, particularly among military families such as my own, it’s coming up on “moving season.” In order to not disrupt most of the country’s public school schedules, families with school-aged children try to move in the summertime. In military communities, it’s tradition to see the “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs appearing throughout the local neighborhoods in the springtime, as families anticipate their June and July moves.

My own family will be moving in a mere five weeks–eek!–to Colorado Springs. Earlier this month we took a long weekend and flew out to choose a new house.

About 10 days prior to our trip, I found out about an update for the realtor.com mobile app service that I’ve relied on to send me customized search results for the areas in which we’re looking to live. This update would make realtor.com be the first mobile real estate search capability to fully integrate school information in their app.

I used this app quite a bit during our two days (and 11 houses) worth of searching. It was easy to see the public elementary, middle, and high schools that were zoned for each house. From those maps, one could click on the school location icon and easily see the Great Schools ratings, shade the map to show the school district boundary, and then re-focus their home search for only those homes in the school’s boundary area.

Click the yellow school icon shown to give further options, such as to toggle the school boundary off and on, and to view the Great Schools report. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.

Click the yellow school icon shown to give further options, such as to toggle the school boundary off and on, and to view the Great Schools report. Click the grey “Search Here” to constrain your search to only within the school’s boundary. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.

You can also overlap as many schools as you wish, in this case I'm viewing the elementary and middle school boundaries for one of the houses we checked out. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.

You can also overlap as many schools as you wish, in this case I’m viewing the elementary and middle school boundaries for one of the houses we checked out. Note that you can’t see the school icons when zoomed out this far. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.

Some of the limitations of this capability were apparent right off the bat. First of all, the school icons don’t appear unless you’re zoomed in pretty closely. I can’t quantify the amount of zoom required, but it seems to be at the level where the side street names appear.

In addition, many of the schools’ Great Schools ratings weren’t appearing when I selected the yellow school icon. The Great Schools rating would read “NR” on the realtor.com app, but if I were to go straight to the GreatSchools.org website, a rating would be available.

Nonetheless, getting to see the school boundaries and bring able to focus home searches on specific schools were extremely useful for my family while we were searching for new houses last weekend.

The realtor.com mobile app is available free of charge on the Apple iOS (through the App Store) and Android (through Google Play) platforms.

Patricia Vollmer

Patricia Vollmer is a geeky meteorologist mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 9 & 11. She is currently teaching mathematics at the United States Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, playing her violin, needlecrafts and exploring the world with her boys.

2 Comments
Mike

May 15, 2013 10:53 pm Reply

Wow. Way to creep me out. My house is in the middle of that graphic you posted. Had to check and make sure wasn’t some sort of script based web app. Should note that the k-5 on the other side of research (explorer) is a better school all around. That said all the schools in D20 are a better deal than any of the surrounding districts.

    Patricia Vollmer
    Patricia Vollmer

    May 15, 2013 10:59 pm Reply

    I’m sorry to creep you out. That was a screen shot for one of the houses that we were looking at — we may or may not have gotten a house where that screen shot was, there were several in there :-). My sons aren’t going to Explorer. One of my sons is wait listed for our neighborhood school, in fact, and might have to get bussed to the school on the other side of Austin Bluffs from there. D20 is very crowded and the elementary school situation was such a crap shoot I couldn’t get my sons into the schools that were the most appealing to me. I ended up focusing on the middle/high school options more and we’re very happy with our location.

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