Residential property market influenced by top schools

The recent matric results highlight the significance of choosing a school for one’s children as a factor influencing family buyers when selecting a home for purchase.

Pam Golding Properties (PGP) says the Western Cape’s sustained academic results as one of the top two performing provinces in South Africa over a number of years, underpins its popularity with families wishing to settle their children in a stable educational environment.  

The list of top-performing schools in the Western Cape also shows an encouraging spread of high-achieving facilities – including new and old, private and public institutions, in a wide variety of suburbs and towns.  “This emphasizes the broad choice of private and government schools available to family buyers in the property market at present,” says PGP’s MD for the Western Cape metro region, Laurie Wener.

The list of top 20 schools in the province (based on the 2012 matric results) includes 14 schools in Cape Town itself, plus another six in the Boland region.  The province’s top five schools were all located in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, which had a total of eight institutions on the top 20 list.  Other areas highlighted included Stellenbosch (four schools in the top 20), Bellville (three) and the City Bowl (two), as well as the Western Seaboard, Somerset West and Paarl.

“The sector of the market that has school-going children or undergraduate university students is definitely driven to seek a home which gives them entrance and easy access to preferred schools,” says Wener.  “It is certainly a major factor in their final purchasing decision, and in areas such as Rondebosch, Newlands and the City Bowl, the residential market is strongly influenced by the area schools, which have built up sterling reputations over many decades.  There is no doubt that competition for places at these top institutions is fierce, and that buyers may well be prepared to compromise on other features of their home, just to be closer to the preferred school.  This can also have an impact on pricing, as it ensures sustained demand and good re-sale prospects, as well as reducing supply and turnover – if a buyer has purchased to be close to a school, then they are likely to be long-term residents in the area, until their children have completed their education.”

Similar factors influence the market in the Boland and Overberg regions, where PGP’s MD Annien Borg says tradition and family history also play a significant role.  “A large percentage of our buyers are families with either school-going children or those moving on to Stellenbosch University,” she says.  “Many of them grew up here themselves, and want their children to attend the same schools that they did, especially because of their reputation for academic and sporting achievement.  We also see some parents who live further away from the major centres, buying smaller properties in town to use when they visit their children at school, or even to stay in during the week while going home to their primary residence over weekends.”

While some of the smaller outlying towns may appear under-serviced in terms of schools, Borg says they are increasingly becoming viable options for family buyers, not only due to the opening up of new private schools, but also due to the establishment of regular transport services into the larger towns.  “It is therefore possible to live in a village like McGregor, Greyton, or Riebeeck-Kasteel, and commute to the schools in neighbouring larger towns, such as Malmesbury, Caledon and Robertson,” she says.

Wener adds that the provincial government’s three-year infrastructure plan for education will further boost the educational offering in the Western Cape, and the number of areas able to attract family buyers.  “Education MEC Donald Grant announced in October last year (2012) that the province would be building 72 schools over the next three years – 46 of these being replacements for existing schools, and 26 being brand new institutions.  Areas that will benefit from the new schools include Kuils River, Hout Bay, Mitchells Plain, Durbanville, Brackenfell and Strand.  There will also be investment in more than a hundred new Grade R classrooms.  This is all to be welcomed, and we hope that it will be mirrored in the pre-school environment, as some areas are still lacking in good quality schooling and after-care facilities for younger children.  One also hopes that public transport plans will integrate well with this investment, allowing parents to get their children to school with ease.”

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