Homeowners – how valuable is it to live near a top state school?

With children returning to school over the next few weeks, our minds turn to catchment areas, property prices and how much parents will be willing to pay to make sure their child gets a place at the school of their choice.

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According to recent research, carried out by Santander Mortgages, living in the catchment area of one of the top 100 state secondary schools in England now carries a property price premium of 42%. This means that parents would be willing to pay almost 50% more for a home in a specific location which falls into the catchment area of a top performing school over one which doesn’t.

What’s more, properties located near one of the top 1,000 state primary schools carry an 8% price premium.

Parents who have moved or are willing to live in their preferred school’s catchment area are willing to pay over £26,000 higher than the average UK property price (£226,000) to ensure their child gets a place at a top state school.

Good schools remain the most desirable amenity for parents with the average price premium to live in an area of low crime or with good transport links significantly lower at 11% and 10% respectively.

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Where are the highest school price premiums? 

The research shows that the highest price premium – where the cost of a home in a school catchment area exceeds the local average for one which isn’t – is in London at £70,675. This is followed by the South East (£40,294), the East of England (£30,658) and East Midlands (£23,239).

According to the research, the lowest school price premiums can be found in Northern Ireland (£2,731), the North West (£14,393) and the North East (£15,442).

The average premium buyers have paid or are prepared to pay on top of an asking price in order to secure a home in their desired catchment area is also highest in London at 15%. This is followed by the South East on 13% and a range of regions at 12%.

The only regions with an average price premium lower than 10% are the North West (9%), the South West (7%) and Northern Ireland (5%).

Do buyers make sacrifices for school places? 

To make sure they are living in the required catchment area for their chosen school, some parents have had to make sacrifices regarding the homes they live in.

A fifth of parents surveyed said they had to downsize in order to get a home near their chosen school. Some 16%, meanwhile, moved to an area they didn’t like and 8% felt unsafe in their new area.

Some parents are also making sacrifices when it comes to work to make sure their child goes to the best school possible. A quarter said they have taken on extra hours at work to be able to afford a home near a top state school, with 25% seeing their commuting costs increasing as a result of a school-related move and 17% saying their journey to work is now more difficult.

Is the hunt for school places affecting parents financially? 

Almost a quarter of parents said they paid significantly more for a property near a top school than they felt they could afford. On the other hand, 25% said they would consider purchasing a less expensive property so they could send their children to private school.

Over the next two years, around 30% of parents with children aged 4-18 are considering moving home so they are living in the catchment area for their preferred school.

Are you a property seller who lives near a top state school? 

As we can see, good schools will always be one of the key buying criteria for those with young families. Therefore, if you’re selling your home and happen to live in the catchment area of a top state school, this could improve your chances of selling your home for above the asking price.

Remember to point out to family buyers during viewings which primary and secondary schools your property is closest to and it could help you to secure a price premium for your property.

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