Good schools in UK still influence property buying decisions

Properties in popular catchment areas hold their value in a challenging market

August, as expected, was a quiet time for the property market, while students across the country anxiously await their exam results which are unveiled during this period.

Last month’s GCSE results dropped for the first time in their history but as grades fell, prices of homes near to the highest achieving schools continued to rise.

Children are gearing up for a new term and at the school gates, some parents will be sending off their loved ones in the knowledge they paid a premium to buy their home in the perfect location.

School catchment areas aren’t always the top priority when buying a new home, but for investors and parents alike, they could offer some reassurance against the fluctuations of the property market.

‘Catchment areas for state schools are clearly defined, however parents choosing to send their children to public schools will also want to be within a certain distance. If you are going to watch your children play sport on a Wednesday night, you don’t want to be driving for hours and hours so we often see homes near to good boarding schools enter fierce competitive bidding wars,’ explained James Mackenzie from Strutt & Parker’s Country House Department.

There are other advantages too, he pointed out.

‘These properties often hold their value in a challenging market and tend to sell faster if the market stalls, simply because there will always be parents willing to go pay the extra premium for their children. This competition for homes pushes prices up and generates something of a micro-market,’ he said.

For those parents who are looking at state schools the competition for an address within the catchment area of a top rated school makes them almost recession proof as they always create a strong demand among parents.

‘These properties often come with an attractive lifestyle too, located in thriving communities, which makes them popular with all buyers although school run traffic can be an issue,’ added Mackenzie.

He also warned that it is important to understand that local councils can change catchment area boundaries, and simply with a change of head teacher, a school with a high Ofsted rating may not always perform so well. Falling standards at a school, to the point it loses its precious Ofsted rating, could have a negative effect on prices.

‘The proximity of good schools is always a factor worth bearing in mind when looking to purchase a home as the demand to be near to these establishments continues to have a positive effect on the local market,’ he concluded.

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