Posted on 6th December 2013

Are Education Hotspots Turning up the Heat for families?

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential PropertyAs new research reveals that middle class parents are prepared to pay up to 170 pc property price premiums to live close to Britains top primary schools, we ask if education hotspots are here to stay.

According to the study by property website, aspirational families are willing to pay an extra £91,000 to live near to better performing primary schools. Here in Darlington we have first-hand experience of a property in a particularly desirable school catchment area where the sale price achieved was almost a 20 pc increase on the original asking price. As places at schools ranked by Ofsted as outstanding or even good become like gold dust, the pressure on parents to ensure their children get the best possible start in life only looks set to increase.

Separate research by Lloyds Bank has found that property prices close to Englands top 30 state secondary schools were on average £31, 500 or 12 pc higher than those in neighbouring areas. The study found that nine out of the top 30 state schools were in locations where house prices were as much as £80,000 more than similar properties in surrounding areas. The study calculated the premiums on house prices in the postcodes of the top 50 fee-paying and top 50 state primary schools outside London against the average property price for the country.

The market town of Yarm, which has been dubbed the Riviera of the North, has become something of an education hotspot. Many families are drawn to the town by the success of Yarm School, which has topped the school league tables for all state, independent schools and sixth form colleges in County Durham and Teesside.

The latest data shows that while North East house prices are still not showing signs of real movement in the right direction, those looking for a property investment in more economically robust areas like Yarm are choosing to seize the moment. The average house price in the town in 2013 is now £204, 418, compared to the national average of £164, 000, and it is one of the few areas in the region where property prices are resurgent rather than simply stable.

While independent schools do not have a catchment area, many parents prefer to move as close as is practical to a school so that the school run is shorter or even so that their children can walk to school. Its almost as if parents, if they are able, feel the need to make a pre-emptive strike by moving closer to school, so that once their children reach school age they are able to attend the school of their parents choice.

At the end of the day, however, what parent does not want the very best for their children? As the gap between better performing and failing schools seems to widen year on year and a good start in life increases in importance, education hotspots do seem to be here to stay.