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Home buying: Parent or not, schools matter

When purchasing a home there are several factors to consider such as price, type, and costs to name a few. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that of all the considerations the most important aspect when deciding which property to choose is location.

“Everyone knows that location is important, but not everyone knows what elements make an area a good location or not, or how this influences buying decisions,” says Goslett. “A major factor in determining whether a location is preferable is its proximity to amenities such as shopping malls and medical facilities. One of the most important aspects that has a major impact on buying decisions is proximity to good schools, because of its influence on both housing prices and children’s education.”

According to Goslett, whether the buyer has children, an elderly parent looking to downsize or years from starting a family, the quality of schools in the area should be a factor in the buyer’s home search because of its impact on the homes in the area. He notes that homes in the areas that are considered to be the best school districts will on average sell for more, than similar homes in other areas.  “Generally areas that are close to good schools have higher numbers of people looking at the same homes, which pushes up demand having an impact on the home’s pricing. Demand has a direct influence on the appreciation potential of a property or area. As a result the resale value of homes in these areas often fare better, even in a stunted market,” Goslett explains.

So why do schools have the impact they do on housing? Goslett says it is largely due to the schooling zoning system. “If there is space available, parents may register their child for any public school. However, most public schools will have a specific feeder zone. The child’s home address will determine which schools the child is zoned for. The children within the feeder area will be given preference over others outside of that zone.”

According to the Department of Education, first preference is given to children whose parents reside within the feeder zone. This also includes parents who live at their place of employment, such as in the case of a domestic worker. Second preference will be to those children whose parents work in the feeder area and third will be the remainder of the applicants which are processed subject to availability on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once all spaces have been filled, the rest of the children will be placed on a waiting list. The provincial department of education is obliged to find every child a place in a school. However, it may not be your first choice.

“Before buyers purchase a property it is important that they do their research on schools in the area and how they are rated. Furthermore, as purchasing property is viewed as a long term investment, where possible, buyers should assess what plans they have for the future. Although they may not have children at the moment, if children are a part of their plans, then considering the schools in a particular area could become a priority that influences their buying decision,” says Goslett.

Where would buyers be able to get information about schools in the area where they are interested in purchasing? Buyers can contact their provincial department of education or browse the website. The Department of Education has a countrywide database of all public schools that can be of assistance to property buyers. This database has information such as the school address and contact details.

“Buying a property is a huge decision that should be carefully considered. Having the necessary information at hand will ensure that buyers make the best decision when choosing a home,” Goslett concludes.


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