School catchment zones propelling Sydney house prices

Aspirational parents of school kids are driving up Sydney house prices, new data shows.

There has been extraordinary price growth over the past year in the catchment zones for some of the most sought after and up-and-coming public schools in the state.

“Education is a growing part of the equation that can drive prices higher,” says Domain Group senior economist Dr Andrew Wilson.

The Domain 2015 School Zones Report shows properties around Strathfield Girls High School ? number 86 on the HSC ranking list ? has had the most growth for secondary school catchments zones at 38.6 per cent growth.

However, catchment zones for some primary schools had even higher growth.

Parramatta’s 56.6 per cent growth could be largely because of other factors though in Sydney’s south, PRDnationwide agent Jack Huggett said Oatley’s public school, at number three on the Domain list, is certainly a drawcard there.

Properties in the school catchment area had an average 44.9 per growth in the median house price over the past 12 months.

“Normally the Chinese buyers like to be close to the transport and the schools,” Mr Huggett said.

He has a three bedroom home at 35 Louisa Street, Oatley, up for auction on July 25, which is advertised on Domain as “just a moment’s stroll … to Oatley public school.”

“We’ve had stacks of interest,” he said.

“Some people were buying investment apartments in the area just to lock their children into the catchment area.”

Dr Wilson said in Sydney’s north-west more buyers were targeting schools.

This may be due to the large Chinese community, for whom education is worth a premium, but it is also because of finances.

“Private school fees are high and growing ahead of the inflation rate … sometimes it’s not possible to do that and pay the fees so the alternative is public schools.”

The Australian Scholarships Group modelled the expected cost of private schooling in Sydney through primary and high school years to a total of $541,275 per child.

“It might work out cheaper to buy a house in a public school zone area than to pay private school fees, which are already rising above inflation rates and are already at high levels.”

There’s also stacks of interest in Epping, at number five on the list, which has an assortment of public schools, explained Cale Property Agents sales agent Sharon Curran. This has seen the median property price soar 41 per cent over the year.

“If you have a double brick home in the school zone, you’re on a gold mine,” Ms Curran said.

Ray White Epping principal Dennis Nutt said the schools are a major drawcard, with families gravitating towards it from nearby Concord and Eastwood to get into the schools.

For Balmain, seventh on the Domain list with property prices up 34.8 per cent, Cobden & Hayson agent Peter Gordon said some buyers are even willing to downgrade their expectations to get into the school zone.

“Some are buying a two bedroom terrace where [outside the area] they might buy a three bedroom freestanding house,” he said.

Balmain and Epping public schools ranked in the top 50 across NSW by the Federal Government.

SMH / July 16, 2015