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Schools have big impact on areas in which families buy

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Parents are willing to pay premium prices for ‘excellent education’ close to home; many rent before buying

Demand for good schools in the Western Cape is keeping the province’s rental market busy, as families move closer to their schools of choice and into school-enforced “feeder” zones.

And when it comes time to buy a property close to certain schools, parents are willing to pay a premium.

Properties in some areas in Cape Town –  such as the southern suburbs – are particularly sought after as they offer a number of “excellent schools”, including private, government, international and single-sex institutions, says Charia Thatcher, agent in the southern suburbs and False Bay.

And most people moving to areas for schooling reasons – particularly those from other parts of the country or overseas, prefer to rent properties before they buy.

“Most schools advise where the feeder area is. I would say that there is a snowball effect as the buyers are on the lookout for homes within school proximity and this then impacts the seller wishing to sell within the same area, and demand in that area.”

Thatcher says there is usually an increase in requests for properties where schooling is paramount during the November/December months as this is inevitably the time when parents are transferred within the company or when people tend to relocate.

Pre-Easter holidays also seems to bring about a “fair amount of activity and inquiry”.

“The reason for them wanting to rent is because the transition (in some instances) happens overnight and this does not give a family sufficient time to home hunt and purchase.”

Echoing this, Catherine Cockcroft, agent for the City Bowl and Cape Town suburbs, says most people would be looking to move towards the end of the year as they want to secure something and become settled before the new school year begins.

Somerset West is also known for its excellent schools, says Jeremy Maycock, SAProperty agent for this area.

“It is a huge drawcard for potential buyers, particularly those relocating from other provinces.”

He agrees with Thatcher that most initially rent.

“There is definitely an influx of younger families moving to the area and schools are an important aspect when concluding sales or rentals.”

Not only is proximity to schools important in terms of feeder zones, but it is also a priority as it reduces traffic and travelling time, says Samuel Seeff, chairperson of the Seeff Property Group.

“Buyers are, therefore, prepared to pay a premium for a property close to a top school and that is also why, even during challenging times, family buyers will gravitate to the school suburbs.”

While there is year-round demand for property close to good schools, he says the demand usually picks up ahead of the new school and academic (university) year and the school suburbs do get “quite busy”.

He adds: “The closer you are to a top school, the more in demand and expensive the property tends to be, but buyers will pay premiums of 20% to 40% for a spot close to a top-ranked school.”

Education house hunting

RESEARCH: Determining the school feeder zone for your preferred school is essential. Picture: Connor Bowe

School admission processes for top schools is highly competitive, and while having the right address does not guarantee acceptance, Crispin Inglis, chief executive of PropertyFox says it does increase the chances.

After conducting extensive research into South African feeder zones, here are PropertyFox’s top tips for a school-focused house hunt.

Research school feeder zones: The PropertyFox School Feeder zone guide has extensive information about provincial feeder zone policies and individual school feeder zone policies of the top schools in South Africa.

Make contact with your favoured schools: Even if you live in a catchment area, if the school is oversubscribed, you won’t be accepted, so don’t wait until you’ve moved to find out if your prospective address is in the right area. Start chatting to schools early.

Do deep research into suburbs in feeder zone areas: Buying a home is a big investment and you need to take into account whether the great value property you buy now is likely to appreciate.


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