Many are looking only at areas with homes close to schools which will offer children the best education without the hassle of daily traffic woes.
Worrying national matric pass rates and growing traffic congestion in Gauteng are seeing greater emphasis placed on schooling, with homebuyers determined to find properties close to schools of choice.
Although the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) does not have a school zoning policy, parents still expect their children to be accepted into their chosen schools in their residential areas.
“The parent seeking admission of a child must apply at a school closest to the parent’s home or work address, or where the child already has a sibling in the school,” says GDE acting spokesperson Oupa Bodibe. However, he says there is no preferential order of admitting a pupil to a school based on their location.
For this reason, at the end of the school placement period, usually at the beginning or towards the middle of the year, parents whose children have not been accepted into their chosen, and nearest, schools often complain. Bodibe says in some cases parents argue that they deliberately bought homes in the areas for their children to attend nearby schools of choice.
“The flagging national matric results in recent years have spurred the trend towards the selection of a school for one’s children being a primary consideration when choosing an area in which to buy property,” confirms Lew Geffen, chairperson of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.
In Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, he says a driving factor has been an increasing number of people working in the Sandton CBD and other growing business nodes in the area, who are moving closer to work to avoid traffic congestion.
“We’re seeing increasing demand in these areas, especially as families want to be as close to schools as possible. Because of the lack of available places at private schools, families planning to move usually hold off until they know which schools have accepted their childrens’ applications.
“Many sought-after schools are in upmarket areas and the increasing cost of living, including education, is driving lower income families to seek smaller properties near to these schools.
“As a consequence, there has been a surge in the development of sectional title complexes, smaller homes and clusters in many of these suburbs to feed this demand.”
Some specialty schools see affluent suburbs develop around them as they gain importance in communities, says Howard Hoff, area specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s in Highlands North, Orange Grove, Fairmount and Savoy Estate.
“Buyers want the convenience of good local schools if their children are going to partake in extra-mural activities.”
In the north-eastern suburbs of Linksfield and Glenhazel, Hoff says the King David schools and the Saheti School attract the Jewish and Greek communities respectively. St Mary’s DSG has a waiting list, predominantly from families living in Waverley and Highlands North.
“The price range in these areas is from R2.5 million to R5.5m, but it is possible to find lower priced properties near good schools if they are situated on main roads or busy corners.”
With local roads becoming more congested, convenience is a major factor influencing buyer choices, says Grahame Diedericks, manager principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Midrand. This is more the case when it comes to daily commutes to work and for school drop-offs.
“Most suburbs within Midrand offer a practical and quality school solution for current owners and potential buyers. The most popular area at the moment is Waterfall with Reddam House and St Peter’s nearby.
“There are many price ranges and property types within the Waterfall area, from apartment living to the equestrian estate lifestyle, with prices ranging from just over R1m to in excess of R45m,” Diedericks says.
Homes in Lonehill and the Fourways area are also in demand as these suburbs are growing at “an alarming pace”, says Elaine Wilson, branch manager at Soukop Property Group in Lonehill.
“Schooling in these areas is a key issue for purchasing property. Traffic on the road is a huge problem getting children to school and back. Schools in these areas, both private and government, are of a very high standard.”
Wilson says properties in Lonehill, Fourways and surrounding areas are classed as the safest areas to buy, and average family homes with three or four bedrooms range from R2.3m to R5m. Cluster homes are particularly in demand.
In Johannesburg East, demand in upper and lower Bedfordview, Senderwood, Linksfield, Dowerglen and Essexwold is often driven by the need to live close to prestigious schools like St Andrew’s School for Girls, King David School, Saheti School, St Benedict’s, Holy Rosary School and St Mary’s DSG, says Nelson Ferreira, Pam Golding Properties’ area principal.
“In the East Rand areas of Benoni, Boksburg, Kempton Park and Brakpan there are great public schools like Benoni High, Farrarmere Primary, Rynfield Primary, Tom Newby and Boksburg High, and buyers often want to move near these schools in accordance with their income per household.”
There is an abundance of top private schools in these East Rand areas such as St Dunstan’s College, Woodlands International College, St Dominic’s, Christian Brothers’ College and Curro Serengeti.
Property prices in these East Rand areas range from R2m to R7m, and from R2.5m to upwards of R10m in Bedfordview and surrounding areas, Ferreira says.
In certain areas of Johannesburg south and Alberton, Byron Caloyannis, Pam Golding Properties area principal, says the LSM indicates that parents opt for private schools in other areas and do not mind travelling.
Likewise, parents from Lenasia also travel to schools in New Johannesburg South, while large numbers of pupils from Soweto travel to Lenasia, Winchester and Rosettenville.
“So there is great relocation potential,” Caloyannis says.
Education is considered “so important” that certain developers are ensuring they include schools within residential estates or mixed-use developments, says Jason Shaw, Pam Golding Properties national sales executive and manager of the Northcliff office.
“A school offering all grades is, for example, being developed in Steyn City in Fourways. Two schools have been developed on the premises of Monaghan Farm, a residential estate situated just north of Lanseria Airport. These include a Montessori and a Curro private school.”
Shaw says the suburbs in the greater Sandton area – including Parktown, Parkhurst, Saxonwold, Westcliff, Hyde Park, Morningside, Inanda, Melrose, Houghton and Bryanston – are within easy reach of some of the most highly regarded schools in the country.
He says many families are also attracted to areas such as Northcliff because good schools are located nearby.
“These cater for a range of cultures, religions and language groups.”
In addition, Shaw says the universities of Johannesburg and Witwatersrand, two of the city’s most important tertiary learning institutions, are situated within just 10km of Northcliff.