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How schools impact on the property market

A marked change in the way we choose to educate our children is having a dramatic affect on the property market writes Rachel Johnston, Regional Director of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition in January’s edition of FourShires Magazine.

It’s becoming quite unusual for parents to send their children away and not to see them again until the next holidays. There is a growing trend for parents to opt for day prep and public schools, and existing schools are embracing parental involvement and access to children and expanding their flexi-boarding provision accordingly.

Consequently, there is a growing demand for family houses providing spacious accommodation in rural areas, within half an hour’s radius of both day schools and boarding schools. In the Four Shires region, the demand for properties of this kind means they fall into the £800,000 – £1.5m price bracket.

It is becoming an increasing trend for families to select the school they wish their children to attend, and then this will dictate the area in which they live.

Of course, selecting a school as the basis of your house search can be a dangerous strategy. If your heart is set on one school, you may find that your child doesn’t get in or that the school’s position in the league tables changes. It may be a safer approach to select an area that has a raft of good schools, both state and private, for all different ages. This will then provide you with flexibility when it comes to schooling options.

Planning ahead also means you can start your search sooner. An area with several good options will mean that you can commit to a house and won’t risk losing a school place because your exchange hasn’t gone through in time.

Top tips when buying with schools in mind:

Do some in-depth research. Will your budget meet your aspirations in your chosen area?  Pay close attention to grammar catchments which are accessible for some in our region, but remember these are subject to change and demographic influences year on year. 

Expect to pay a premium – If you want a good family house within half an hour’s drive of a good school, you will pay a premium.

If you want an investment that’s likely to see excellent capital growth, you can gamble on a school that you think is likely to grow in popularity. Research here is invaluable.

Be consistent about distance. Don’t be tempted to allow the length of the school run grow in order to get more house for your money. This will result in tired children who will be less likely to work at home. Sharing the school run with other parents can relieve a great deal of pressure however. Also many independent schools run their own school buses; check with the school the routes they run and whether they could be varied to accommodate you.

There is a micro-market in houses of certain quality in the vicinity of certain schools. These properties may bypass the estate agents, often being traded at the school gates. A Buying Agent can help with this!

Plotting all your intelligence on a map is a good start – but bear in mind that 8am on a Monday morning is the reality. Check traffic flows at peak times.

Schools also tend to produce a strong demographic in the community. Living right on the doorstep of a school is something you should always think about carefully. Noise and traffic are the main considerations, and both can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

To learn more about schooling options in the Four Shires region, click here.

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