Living close to the best places of education is a key consideration for many when house hunting.
Proximity to the Western Cape’s best public and private schools is a major influence on home buying in the province, with Cape Town – and the southern suburbs in particular – a huge draw-card.
Although the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) does not apply a zoning policy for school admissions, parents are determined to live close to schools of choice for perceived better chances of acceptance and convenience.
At this time of the year, when most schools have finalised new enrolments for the next academic year, the significance of where families live is highlighted.
“The WCED and education ministry are inundated with requests from parents for placements in their schools of choice, or closest to home,” says WCED spokesperson Jessica Shelver.
“Many parents whose child has not been accepted into a particular school are ‘demanding’ placement at that school.”
While the department understands parents’ concerns, Shelver says schools determine their own criteria for admitting pupils such as, for example, sibling preference.
Some schools may consider applicants based on their proximities to the schools, but this is “rarely” the sole criterion.
“Applying does not guarantee acceptance and the WCED has been clear in all its communication: parents must apply to more than one. It is surprising how many apply to one school only each year.”
Shelver says the WCED is experiencing the greatest challenge in metro areas as the population continues to grow rapidly.
“The City of Cape Town can expand only northwards because of limited space on the Peninsula. The growth is placing huge demands on all resources, including
housing, schools, medical facilities and jobs.”
Estate agents also see the growing impact of schooling on buyers’ home location preferences. Rob Stefanutto, group managing director of Dogon, saying emphasis is often placed on private and Montessori schools and access to them for travelling times and extramural activities.
On the Atlantic seaboard, he says Reddam House is particularly popular, as are the South African College School, Herschel Girls’ School and Bishops Diocesan College in the southern suburbs.
“However, there are now well-established private schools in Hout Bay, Parklands and Blouberg. In the Winelands, Bridge House and Winelands Academy cater for middle-income earners looking for a high standard of education for their children.”
In terms of prices in these areas, Stefanutto says family homes on the Atlantic seaboard begin at about R6 million, while in the southern suburbs, Parklands, and Val De Vie, prices range from R4.5m, R1.5m and R4.5m respectively.
“Driving the trend even further in Cape Town is the Western Cape’s sustained academic performance and above-national average matric pass rate over a number of years, and the continued influx of families arriving from Gauteng,” says Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.
“In Cape Town, this trend has been felt most keenly in the southern suburbs, home to many of the city’s best schools, including Bishops, Rondebosch Boys’ Prep and High, Rustenburg Girls’ Junior and High and Oakhurst Primary. These attract families to Newlands, Claremont and Rondebosch.”
Geffen says buyers in Constantia, Bergvliet, Tokai and Bishopscourt are close to Waldorf private school, Honeycombe Montessori Pre-Primary, Reddam House and the American International School of Cape Town.
Homes in the southern suburbs now command premium prices, says Dave Burger, specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, Observatory, Woodstock, University Estate/Walmer Estate.
“Lynfrae, for example, used to be far more affordable than greater and upper Claremont, but prices have spiked because of nearness to the Rondebosch Boys’ schools.”
In the City Bowl, Burger says the German International School Cape Town attracts many families to Tamboerskloof, while homes near St Cyprian’s School in Oranjezicht and Herzlia High in Vredehoek are also popular. Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck is popular with Afrikaans families.
“In the southern suburbs – Rondebosch, Claremont, and Wynberg – the average family home costs between R4m and R6m.
“City Bowl homes are at a premium because of the CBD and dearth of available vacant land. Houses generally start at around R6.5m. More affordable options, when available, can be found in up-and-coming adjacent suburbs like Walmer Estate and University Estate,” Burger says.
The Cape Peninsula is known for excellent schooling “across the board”, says Mike Greeff, chief executive at Greeff Christies International Real Estate.
“From government schools to private schools, they are all sought after. This means from False Bay through to the city bowl and Atlantic seaboard, there are schooling options sought by parents.
“Kirstenhof and Bergvliet boast schools with fine reputations, and buyers seek homes there and in Lakeside, as well as Muizenberg and Marina da Gama.”
Greeff says the Wynberg Campus of Schools is a sought-after government education facility and parents with children enrolled there seek homes in the southern suburbs and Constantiaberg. Some even commute from False Bay.
“Parents with children at SACS, Rustenberg Girls’ schools, Springfield Convent School, Bishops, Rondebosch Boys’ schools, Western Province Prep, Westerford High and Grove Primary – a mix of private and government schools – seek homes nearby, but demand is high and stock is limited, so commuting in the traffic is the norm for most parents with school-going kids.
“Many commute daily from Noordhoek and False Bay to Reddam House, Constantia Waldorf School and other southern suburbs schools.”
For these reasons, Greeff says properties close to schools are likely to sell quickly, with prices depending on conditions and comparative averages of surrounding properties.