By John McGrath
More parents are choosing to educate their children in government schools, a complete reversal of the 40-year trend towards private education, according to the latest Schools Report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This change began in 2015 and has been increasing ever since.
The number of students staying through to Year 12 has also increased from 75% in 2006 to 84.3% in 2016, which means family home owners in prized school catchments are staying put for longer.
So what does this mean for real estate? In short, a lot!
The desirability of homes within the catchment zones of the best public schools has been growing across Australia.
A key factor was the introduction of the My School website launched in 2010, which provides directly comparable performance data for every public school based on NAPLAN results and other factors.
The ability to directly compare schools means family buyers can handpick a top public school for their kids and give them guaranteed entry by simply moving into the catchment zone.
Attending a top public school is also cheaper than a private school, so parents can save a lot of money going this route while also ensuring a good education for their kids.
On the ground, we are constantly meeting families who have a particular catchment zone in mind. Catchments are also a high priority for a rising number of Chinese buyers in Australia, with our high-quality education often a key reason for them migrating here in the first place.
The effect of high-quality schools on local property prices is highlighted in the latest Domain School Zones report, which show house price growth data by catchment zone rather than by suburb.
Let’s take a look at the top three primary and secondary school catchment zones in our East Coast capital cities for 2016.
Sydney’s top school catchment zones by house price growth: 2016
1. Neutral Bay Public School – house prices up 31.4% to a median $2.575 million
2. Woodport Public School – house prices up 27.2% to $738,000
3. Vaucluse Public School – house prices up 26.8% to $4.12 million
1. Hunters Hill High School – house prices up 20% to $3.18 million
2. Rose Bay Secondary College – house prices up 19.9% to $3.1 million
3. Lake Macquarie High School – house prices up 18.8% to $463,150
Melbourne’s Top School Catchment Zones
1. Glen Huntly Primary School – house prices up 41.3% to $1,180,000
2. Glenferrie Primary School – house prices up 35% to $2,025,625
3. Kerrimuir Primary School – house prices up 34.4% to $1,183,000
1. Charles La Trobe Secondary College – house prices up 31.9% to $950,000
2. University High School – house prices up 23.7% to $1,113,500
3. Elwood College – house prices up 22.6% to $1,511,000
Brisbane’s Top School Catchment Zones
1. Logan Reserve State School – house prices up 40% to $597,500
2. Broadbeach State School – house prices up 23.8% to $1,015,000
3. Sunnybank State School – house prices up 22% to $657,500
1. Sunshine Beach State High School – house prices up 19.1% to $840,000
2. Sunnybank State High School – house prices up 14% to $610,000
3. Merrimac State High School – house prices up 12.3% to $870,000
Source: Domain’s School Zones Report
As you can see, the data clearly demonstrates the value of a school catchment, with house price growth in the top catchments well above the median growth for the corresponding capital city over the same time period.
Catchment zones are something all buyers should consider, as it appears that a premium is usually paid for houses in the best school areas.
Couples not intending to have kids, or downsizers whose kids have left home, might want to avoid top school catchments and instead look to suburbs just outside the catchment zone where houses can be tens of thousands of dollars cheaper.
The flipside is if you do buy in a top school zone, whether you make use of the school or not, you’ll probably enjoy a premium level of capital growth over time as well.
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