Strong schools, stable neighborhoods and positive property values: it’s a real estate mantra echoed by the young and growing organization, Realtors Supporting Richardson Schools. Founded by RISD Trustee Anne Foster, a Realtor herself, the group works to provide real estate professionals with detailed, accurate information about RISD schools.
“So much of our community is built around the school community,” Foster says. Yet she finds that Realtors – on whose knowledge buyers and sellers rely – can be as uninformed as the general public about education in the district. “I saw an opportunity to try to bring together the real estate community and the district,” she says. Her goal is shared by the group’s 30-plus members, many of whom live within the district.
Take Gerry Mezera, who is one of a half-dozen or Lake Highlands Realtors who have joined the group. Gloria Young and Paula Parks of Ebby Halliday and Missy and Dean Vanderbilt of Re/Max Associates are also members.
Mezera, a long-time neighborhood resident, sent three children through Lake Highlands schools and continues to be involved in educational issues. Too often, he believes, people form negative impressions of public education based on unfounded rumors.
“[Skyview , for example] offers wonderful programs,” he says of the neighborhood elementary where he serves on the Local School Council. “But people aren’t aware of them.” As a homeowner, he hopes to encourage others to examine schools for themselves. “It’s time for me to give back to the community,” he says. “This is our home.”
It’s also his business. Working from the Re/Max Associates office at Audelia and Skillman, he sells between 40 and 50 homes each year in Lake Highlands. And he considers accurate information on schools crucial to families deciding where to live. Buyers and sellers both benefit when their real estate professional is knowledgeable about the community, including its schools, Mezera says.
The Realtors group encourages members to learn first-hand about RISD schools. The organization sponsors several school visits each year as well as two major events. In the fall, for example, realtors met at Westwood Junior High to learn about the programs offered at junior highs throughout the district. A spring event is being planned.
Members must demonstrate their commitment to learning first-hand about the schools. They may visit schools, attend school and PTA functions, familiarize themselves with the district’s web page, and subscribe to local publications. Members then share their knowledge with their colleagues and the community.
As the group grows, so does its visibility in the community. Expect to see more of the group’s “I Support Richardson Schools” riders attached to For Sale signs, Foster says. Sellers are increasingly requesting that their agents display the signs.
“People are excited.” Foster says, as she encourages other districts to create similar programs. “We’re just getting started.”