Real estate agents and school district officials exchanged ideas at Addams Elementary on Wednesday to help promote Royal Oak to potential home buyers.
School Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said he would love to meet with every prospective resident of Royal Oak and let them know about the community and its public schools, but he can’t so he did the next best thing: He offered to help real estate agents spread the word at a brunch hosted by the district Wednesday.
“I’m not able to meet every prospective resident so I am hoping that Realtors can help us convey to others the district’s sense of excitement when we welcome families to Royal Oak,” Lewis-Lakin said to approximately 20 attendees.
Gary Newville, of Hall & Hunter Realtors based in Birmingham, was at the brunch to learn more about the school district for his clients.
“For people with families, schools are at the top of the list when they are considering purchasing a home,” Newville said. “Even clients that don’t have children want to be sure that down the road they are in a district that sells.”
The superintendent invited attendees to watch a 2-minute video on the district’s website that highlights the schools and serves as a district overview. Each real estate agent also received a packet that included maps, MEAP test score results and information about the district’s vision and mission statement.
Lewis-Lakin praised the district’s PTSA organizations and parent networks. He told attendees that school parents have the ability to make new homeowners feel like they are a part of the community.
“People hear about the downtown and the cool stuff that happens downtown,” Lewis-Lakin said. “My wife and I are both gaining weight since we moved here because of the restaurants, but it’s not restaurants that make a place home. What makes a place home is the strength of the neighborhoods. The schools and the networking of the PTA organizations are critical to the sense of neighborhood that is at the heart of being a resident of Royal Oak.”
Home prices creeping up
During his presentation, Lewis-Lakin asked the real estate agents to share their insights on the housing market in Royal Oak. “People are looking for good houses at decent prices, but there is a shortage of good homes,” Newville said. "We need more homes to market. We have buyers for them.”
Mike Ripinski, of Century 21 Town & Country in Royal Oak, told the superintendent home prices are creeping up. “What I have been telling people for over six months is that if you were waiting for the bottom of the market, we have already been there,” Ripinski said.
Zillow.com, an online real estate database founded in 2005, shows Royal Oak home values are up 3.6 percent from one year ago.
Lewis-Lakin shared with attendees the school district’s commitment to using former school properties at Whittier, Longfellow, Franklin, Starr and Lincoln for residential development. If deals the district has in place make it through the city’s planning and approval process, Lewis-Lakin said there will be new home inventory as early as this summer in terms of pre-sales.
The superintendent also shared his commitment to talk to prospective buyers or make appearances at Realtor events to talk about the schools.
“If I see you showing a home to a buyer with four school-age children, my car might stop at the house and I will make a personal appearance,” he joked, emphasizing his willingness to help.