Nowadays, school catchment areas are one of the main considerations for buyers with children, but it seems any consumer, parent or not, should take note; investing in a home in the perfect catchment spot can offer some much needed security against the fluctuating property market.
This is because even in a recession, parents are thrown into disarray and panic at the thought of failing to secure a school place at a high performing school for their children. Previous research has suggested that parents are prepared to pay hefty premiums of up to £20,000 to buy homes near to the best comprehensives. Hence, properties within a catchment area are often worth more; in areas with the worst education standards, living within the catchment of a top state school adds up to 12 percent to the cost of a property.
Call for houses near the best schools in the Hertfordshire area is currently higher than ever; according to research by PropertyIndex.com, homes near Watford Grammar School for Boys and its sister school Watford Grammar School for Girls, are 250% more in demand than they were last year, and this number is only rising. Then number of children at fee paying schools has decreased this year, likely due to the recession, meaning the popularity of high performing state schools has risen dramatically – along with the house prices near said schools.
Another example in the Hertfordshire area is Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ Dame Alice Owen’s School in Potters Bar. PropertyIndex.com carried out research based on the number of searches for properties using their database, and found demand for properties within the catchment area of the school has ascended dramatically.
Lee Bramzell, the chief executive of PropertyIndex.com, said: "While family homes around popular schools have always commanded a premium, the rise in interest from parents who would have previously chosen private schools has had a ripple effect for applications to local grammars and top performing comprehensives."
Property experts Zoopla.co.uk also carried out research, revealing properties near the top 100 state secondary schools are worth 25 per cent more than the average for the wider region. And in the South-east of England, Zoopla says being near a top state school can command a premium of more than double the local average.
You only have to visit Zoopla’s website to witness the demand for properties near top comprehensives; the school’s name is often in the blurb of the home that is for sale.
Buying agent and family home specialist Gabby Adler, says "With private school fees rising, the value of such properties is insulated against the markets harsher turns because living in the catchment area of a good school can save a family a fortune over the years.”
It would seem then, that buying a property near a good school is one of the best investments you could make.
There are some catches, though. Relying solely on being within a catchment area forcing your properties price up is a huge risk. It is important to realise that high performing schools may not always perform quite so well; it is possible that a falling Ofsted rating could lower the price of your property at the drop of a hat.
Furthermore, catchment areas of schools are subject to change, and the catchment criteria could be taken away all together by the local government or even the school itself. If you are on the border of the catchment area then this carries the risk that at the time of purchase you are within the catchment area, but you may not be when applying to said school.
Finally, parking restrictions, heavy traffic and noise could potentially put many buyers off when you are looking to sell your home, so do keep this in mind, and realise that being within a catchment area should not be your number one priority when buying a home.
Feature image credit: Richard P Long/Shutterstock