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Buying a house for the school

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Lincoln Elementary School, on Chicago's North Side. (Google Street View)

"There are many nice homes for sale or rent in Chicago, and there are some high-performing schools," writes Dennis Rodkin in his Deal Estate column for Chicago Magazine. "But finding a home in the district of a good CPS school was a little like playing chess on two different boards at once – that is, until the introduction of SchoolSparrow."

Tom Brown, the founder of SchoolSparrow, says that until he started his website, most people found home/school matches through recommendations from friends and family. He wanted to streamline the process, so he taught himself to code and interviewed about 20 Chicago mothers to understand how they looked for schools close to home.

Out of those 20, Brown talked to two who ended up living in a district that they didn't want to be in after they purchased their home. Stuck in a tough situation, one now rents out her home and rents a smaller place for her family, in order to be in a good school district.

"When my wife and I were searching for schools for our daughter, we heard about all of the 'usual suspects,' " Brown writes on his blog. "But, as it turns out, there were many other great options here in Chicago that my family didn’t even know about. I’ve done some digging and have found a few strong CPS schools that are located in more affordable areas of Chicago." 

Brown and Rodkin talk more about this issue on Monday's Eight Forty-Eight; call 312.923.9239 to share your thoughts.

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