In Australia, the desire to live in a desirable school zone is growing.
Competition is strong for schools with reputations for academic excellence and prominent public profiles. Examples of these are well-regarded public secondary schools McKinnon Secondary School, Balwyn High School and Glen Waverley Secondary School.
School catchment areas are divided sharply into boundaries which can be delineated by street or even individual property. Living within a particular catchment means your children are automatically eligible to attend the schools in that catchment.
This requirement does generally not exist for private education, meaning you don’t need to live in the area to be offered a place at an independent school. In In many cases, entry to these schools is based on merit.
Many people are opting to buy property in sought-after school catchment areas, rather than paying expensive private school fees, which can cost in excess of $30,000 a year.
Properties in a desirable school zone can attract a price 5 to 20% higher than the median price for the rest of the suburb, and being in a school zone is usually the main thrust of the marketing campaign.
Families are usually the main buyers, so detached and semi-detached properties will command the best prices, although high-density living is becoming more popular in these areas (somewhat controversially) as developers exploit geographical advantage.
If you have your heart set on your child attending a school in a popular school zone and have the budget to buy in one of these areas, read our tips on not paying too much to buy in a school zone.
Do your research. Does the school you want still have the reputation which made it attractive in the first place? While academic ranking is important, find out what the school offers in the way of other important things such as student support, sport, the arts and community programs, and what reputation the school for dealing with issues such as bullying. A bright student will flourish in most environments, so the reputation of a particular school may be just one factor in your child’s academic success.
Spend some time in the area before you buy. Are there issues with traffic congestion and noise? Find out if there are plans for high-density housing developments, or even re-zoning which could affect your eligibility to attend a certain school, or have an impact on the future value of your home.
Don’t leave it too late. Put together a list of schools which you would consider, and let real estate agents in the area know you are looking to buy. This will give you more choice and prevent you buying under pressure to discover later that the property doesn’t meet your needs.
Ask questions. Attend any school tours or open days and ask questions about the direction and values of the school. Investigate plans or decisions that may have an impact on the school’s future reputation.
Be independent. Seek out independent advice on the school and the area before you make an offer or enrol your child.
Domain’s 2020 School Zones Report released late last year reports that house prices rose by more than 20% in 16 public school zones across Melbourne. More than 90 catchments saw house prices jump by double digits over the 12 months to October 2020.
The biggest jump in house prices – 28 per cent – was in the Staughton College school zone in Melton South. House prices in that zone soared to a median price of $480,000.
Here are the top ten from the report, ranked by percentage change in median house price:
MEDIAN HOUSE PRICE
Rosebud Secondary College
Albert Park College
Prahran High School
Brentwood Secondary College
Mill Park Secondary College
Dromana Secondary College
Richmond High School
Springside West Secondary College
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