Editorial, The Age, 12/07/2014
Competition for property in sought-after school areas is intense – some buyers say, “zone first, house second”.
These days, securing a seat in a classroom at a low-cost but high-performing government school is as much a real estate drawcard as sparkling en suites, backyard pools and posh postcodes.
Homes in established zones, including those for Balwyn, Camberwell and McKinnon secondary schools, have long been in frenzied demand with mum and dad buyers. But there are emerging school hot zones across Melbourne, according to agents.
Parents who desire a quality education for their kids – but without elitism – are driving up the price of top school-zoned properties, even in suburbs that are not traditionally classed as blue ribbon, according to agents.
Buyers keeping one eye on real estate ads and the other on VCE and NAPLAN results will do everything in their power to secure a house in a leading government school zone, agents say.
With limited housing available within tight neighbourhood boundaries, ferocious bidding and bullishly fronting agents at packed open for inspections is not uncommon.
And agents say with competition pumping up prices by 5 per cent in emerging zones like Alkira Secondary College in Cranbourne North, and by up to 20 per cent in traditionally in-demand pockets like Balwyn High School, that means budgets are sometimes pushed to the limit.
The price difference between a home in a desirable zone and one outside the zone, even just a street away, can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to buyers’ advisors.
Northcote High School and Alkira Secondary College – formerly Casey Central Secondary College – are more recently in-demand government school zones, driven by consistently strong academic results.
As a school’s reputation improves, agents feel the trickledown of demand almost immediately, said Nelson Alexander sales director Arch Staver.
He said houses in sought-after school wedges almost always outperform the median price for the suburb.
“Some people who I have spoken with, they want the academic equivalent of a private school but perhaps without a sense of eliteness,” Mr Staver said. “They want to capture the academic standard of a private school with an earthy and more local environment.”