Home prices influenced by scores

While experts point to the benefits of diversity — from children learning each others' languages to gaining an appreciation for other walks of life — a more self-interested reason for Mesa Verde parents to become involved in their neighborhood campuses might their home values.

Studies have found that standardized test scores are closely related to the surrounding home prices. A real estate broker interviewed for this series said schools are one of the first subjects people research.

Residents have remodeled many of the 1960s homes in Mesa Verde and installed elaborate landscaping. One front yard near Adams Elementary School has multicolored stone pavers, a top-of-the-line black BMW and a bubbling fountain.

Still, in the portion of Mesa Verde that attends Adams, the average single-family home sold for $308 per square foot during a recent 12-month period, compared to $438 in the Eastside Costa Mesa area that attends Mariners Elementary, according to sales data compiled by Michael Ristau of Keller Williams Realty.

Of course, other factors, such as proximity to the coast and Newport Beach, are at play.

"If people go other places, my property value will never go up," said Costa Mesa City Councilman Steve Mensinger, an Estancia High School sports booster. "We'll never realize the full economic potential of the city."

— Mike Reicher

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