Buying into popular Sydney school zones has become even tougher, with prices in some public school catchments soaring by as much as a third last year, a report released on Tuesday shows.
In Sydney’s 10 fastest growing school catchments, sales prices increased by more than 20 per cent in the 12 months to October 2016, compared to 1.5 per cent growth Sydney-wide, the latest Domain School Zones Report shows.
While this posed a challenge for new parents, proximity to a good public school could dramatically improve the fortunes of those living within the catchment, Domain chief data scientist Nicola Powell said.
“We know from anecdotal feedback from both agents and parents that a desirable school zone can influence prices by up to 10 to 15 per cent,” she said.
“The school catchment helps determine the type of life you’re going to live, your commuting time and the education for your children, so it’s understandably something people will pay more for.”
When Chris Quevedo and his wife Lucy started their home hunt last year their top priority was their four-year-old son Joshua.
“The main question was one of schools in the inner west and where we could send our son,” Mr Quevedo said.
They bought in Petersham for $1,365,000 because it was close to a combination of good public, private and Catholic schools.
“The ranking of the schools in the area is high and where we bought is on the border of several schools, so we’d be able to get him in if we tried,” he said.
Their buyer’s agent, National Property Buyers’ Simone Luxford, then working for House Search Australia, said homes were now selling nearby for $1.6 million – less than 12 months later.
“With clients that do particularly want to move into school catchment zones, some come to us with a specific school in mind and others come with an area in mind asking what the schools are like,” Ms Luxford said.
“If they’re really sold on a specific school they’ll pay more to get it over the line when push comes to shove.”
Often, these are home buyers considering the school zones before their children are even born – young professional couples who have plans on a family, she said.
For secondary schools, Hunters Hill High School topped the list, with the median price jumping 20 per cent to $3.18 million last year. This was closely followed by Rose Bay Secondary College, up 19.9 per cent to $3.1 million. Sydney Secondary College also made the list, up 18.2 per cent to $1.85 million.
BresicWhitney Hunters Hill director Nicholas McEvoy said there was consistent interest in the range of schools across the suburb, including the public, private and Catholic schools on offer.
“Is well known that the majority of buyers in Hunters Hill are young families, a lot are coming for the land, looking to grow the family and get them into a good school,” Mr McEvoy said.
“People want to move into the catchment and they will pay a premium, especially if they know their friends’ kids are going there or it has a good rapport.”
For primary schools, the fastest growing catchment was Neutral Bay Public School, where the median house price grew 31.4 per cent over the year to $2,575,000.
Richardson & Wrench Mosman/Neutral Bay director Robert Simeon said the market was already stronger in 2017 than last year, with a range of buyers interested in the area.
“Neutral Bay school has an excellent academic reputation which has always attracted an oversupply of students trying to enrol,” Mr Simeon said.
However, he said many parents chose to send their children to private schools around the local area.
Other top performers found in the report included Vaucluse Public School, up 26.8 per cent to $4.12 million, and St Peters Public School up 26.3 per cent to $1.2 million.
For home buyers, it’s all about doing the sums upfront about how much it might cost to send their children to public or private schools and the cost of moving, EPS Property Search director Patrick Bright said.
“Over a child’s school life, private school can cost $300,000 and if you have more than one child that quickly adds up,” he said.
“It can be quite an emotional and controversial topic when it comes to making the choice of how to educate your kids.”