Date of Award

5-6-2024

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Real Estate

First Advisor

Jon Wiley

Abstract

GreatSchools (GS) rating is the most visible school quality measure available to homebuyers. In 2017, GS changed its rating system, by incorporating other rating components in its measure and shifting away from focusing exclusively on test scores (TS). Using this abrupt rating change event, I examine the market response to the GS rating change via home prices by comparing homes in school districts that received GS rating changes to similar ones in districts with no rating changes before and after the event. Home price coefficients after the GS rating change are lower than those before the change, reflecting a sensitivity reduction in market response to the new GS rating due to the redistribution of schools across GS rating categories that led to a disconnection between the new rating and socio-demographics. Prices in districts that received GS rating increases were not significantly impacted, while prices in districts where GS ratings were downgraded significantly increase by 3.6%. Homebuyer locality drives such market response. In districts with the highest proportions of non-local in-migration, the direction of the GS rating change, net of TS change, is dominant, consistent with the reliance on availability heuristics that the GS ratings system provides. Whereas in districts comprised heavily of local homebuyers, the direction of TS change is dominant as local homebuyers appear to disregard the GS reference point.

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