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WORDS: KIT HEATHCOCK IMAGES: SUPPLIED & SHUTTERSTOCK

Good schools have always been the defining factor of a family-friendly suburb. You only have to look at Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs with its preponderance of top schools to see the historic popularity of property within the catchment areas of those schools.

Today with growing populations and shortages of schools it’s even more important to choose the right area. “Competition for space in good schools is increasing annually and there’s usually a waiting list,” says Samuel Seeff, chairman, Seeff Property Group. “Proximity to schools has become one of the top drivers of property demand in most areas.”

And as traffic congestion rises together with petrol prices, the attraction of living within walking distance of the school of your choice, saving time on the school run and driving to after-school activities, grows apace.

“As a result of the demand, properties close to good schools generally achieved a premium of around 20% to 40% more compared to properties which are not close to schools,” says Seeff. “Interestingly, while schools are a great advantage and selling point for family buyers and people with children, they’re a deterrent and disadvantage for older buyers who don’t want to live close to school noise or traffic.”

Newlands

Current property climate

In a property market that is currently slow, the top school catchment areas are proving the most resilient. “Homes close to good schools and universities have proven to be a good investment, tending to hold their value better in challenging economic times. School-belt suburbs are also popular for rentals and hence offer good investment prospects, the same for university precincts. During an economic decline, rental demand tends to peak, so school areas are likely to currently experience high demand,” says Seeff.

In Rosebank, Joburg, Frikkie van Eeden, broker/owner of RE/MAX Advantage, is seeing this factor play out. “We’ve had a slowdown in the mid- to luxury segment of the market. Anything above R3m has not been easy to sell. But we’ve seen that sales close to the top schools were the ones attracting the buyers. Anything within walking distance from Jan Cilliers, probably the most sought-after Afrikaans primary school in Joburg, has been in great demand.”

Lonehill

New suburbs

As suburbs grow and new lifestyle estates spread out from the fringes of cities, the addition of new schools is essential to creating new family-friendly property enclaves. Des Hauser, sales manager, Pam Golding Properties Alberton and Johannesburg South, sees this happening with the proliferation of secure estates in his area. “Johannesburg South is in essence a hub, with scholars commuting from far and wide and families relocating here for quality of life. The supply and demand for schools in these areas are in its infancy and corporate private schools not yet present are scouting and investing aggressively in our area.”

Gareth Bailey, Pam Golding Properties area principal, Durban Coastal, highlights the importance of schools in new development areas. “While our North Coast property belt is developing at a relentless rate, fortunately there are sufficient plans in place to deliver quality schools and tertiary institutions to meet the educational needs of these suburbs. The establishment of quality schools and universities in areas such as these will have a significant effect on the strength of these property markets in the long run.”

Pretoria – Woodhill Estate home

Well-established estates are demonstrating the truth of this. Inge de Klerk, Pam Golding Properties Silver Lakes says, “Silver Lakes Golf and Wildlife Estate, one of Pretoria’s top-performing suburbs according to Lightstone, offers direct access to Curro Hazeldean. The estate is also located close to the German School, hence the area is popular with German clients. Information about schools is normally one of the first questions buyers ask. We find that there’s a price difference of between 10% to 15% of similar properties in and outside the school catchment.”

Hurlingham

Long-term investment

Whether you’re buying a home for a growing family or as an investment property, it’s the nearby schools that define that all-important location, location, location factor, and that’s not likely to change.

“Owing to entrance requirements based on proximity, many buyers with young families choose a suburb purely based on the schooling district they want to be in and will refuse to look at properties that lie outside of these areas,” says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO, RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “For this reason, those who are looking for properties purely based upon investment value ought to consider properties within one of the catchment areas of a reputable schooling district as the demand for these properties will always exist as long as the school maintains its reputation.”

What the Agents say…

Cape Town Schools

In addition to the fabulous coastal location, Sunningdale and Parklands offer a family-friendly environment with about 20 top schools including private schools such as Parklands College, CBD St John’s, Elkanah House, Curro (Parklands North) and a new Rallim. There’s also an international school in the area. CLINTON MARTLE, SEEFF BLOUBERG

Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs are home to about 160 schools and the highest concentration of top-performing schools in terms of matric pass rate. Newlands and Rondebosch offer access to 18 top schools including Bishops, Rondebosch Boys, Westerford High, SACS (South African College School) and Rustenburg Girls’ High School, Sans Souci Girls’ High, Westerford High, Herschel Girls’ School, Waldorf School, Reddam and more. JAMES LEWIS, SEEFF SOUTHERN SUBURBS

Joburg Schools

Bryanston, Atholl and Hurlingham are close to the Sandton CBD and fantastic primary and high schools which include a choice of excellent government schools along with top-ranked private schools such as Crawford, Redhill, St Davids, Roedean, Brescia House, KES (King Edward), St Johns, St Stithians and the Waldorf School (in Bryanston). CHARLES VINING, SEEFF SANDTON

Blessed with a number of good schools, families and investors are flocking to the northern Joburg suburbs. Upper Houghton and Houghton Estate currently have a booming high-end rental and sales market; partly because of their proximity to the commercial hubs of Joburg, but also because of schools such as King Edward VII and St John’s College. Parkview and Greenside have also been popular with Afrikaans-speaking households who are lured to the area by schools such as Jan Cilliers and Helpmekaar. FRIKKIE VAN EEDEN, RE/MAX ADVANTAGE, ROSEBANK

Pretoria Schools

Pretoria is home to the well-known Pretoria University as well as Onderstepoort, regarded as the top veterinary school in SA. Plus high demand schools such as the popularly known ‘Affies’ – the Afrikaans Seuns Hoër and the Meisies Hoër Schools – and a host of other top schools. Woodhill Estate, Mooikloof Equestrian Estate and Silver Lakes Estate are popular for their close proximity to excellent schools such as Woodhill College, Curro, Redford House, Laerskool Tygerpoort, Tyger Valley College and Abbotts College. GERHARD VAN DER LINDE, SEEFF LICENSEE PRETORIA EAST

Durban Schools

Often, clients are drawn to the Upper Highway area purely owing to the lure of the top-quality private schools such as Kearsney College, St Mary’s, Thomas More, Curro and Highbury SHANE PEARSON, RE/MAX ADDRESS IN HILLCREST

Morningside is spoilt with good schools, such as Clifton (private for boys), Durban Girls’ College in Essenwood and Maris Stella. Homes and apartments near these schools are generally sought after, sell for great values, and quickly too. MICHELLE BURGER, AREA PRINCIPAL, PAM GOLDING PROPERTIES DURBAN