How School Catchment Zones Impact Property Values

April 14th, 2022 - by Brad Gillespie

School catchment zones have become a big factor for families looking to buy a new home – and they’re driving up property prices across Australia.

We explore why and the impact it’s having on families, investors and renters in the inner city and inner west.

Why school catchment zones matter

School catchment zones determine where a child can be accepted to attend a public primary or secondary school.

A student living in the designated catchment zone has a guaranteed place at their local public school. Students living outside the catchment zone can also be accepted if the school has the capacity for “out of area” enrolments.

But that’s the problem. In popular areas such as Sydney’s inner city and inner west, many public schools have already reached capacity.

And public school enrolments are expected to grow another 20 per cent to nearly 966,000 students by 2036.

Buying a home within a school catchment zone has become a critical enrolment strategy for parents trying to secure a place for their child in their preferred school.

How are property prices impacted?

School catchment zones can have a significant impact on property values, particularly for schools that are highly regarded and have a strong academic record.

Research by Domain found house prices in one Sydney school catchment zone grew 10 times faster last year than other homes in the same suburb.

Almost one-third of NSW school zones recorded house price growth up to 10 per cent higher than the suburbs in which they are located.

The impact was slightly higher for secondary schools, with researchers highlighting several likely factors behind the increased demand for public high schools.

Private school fees at a time of escalating house prices, weak wages growth and economic uncertainty of the past year has weighed on some household budgets,” they said.

What this means for the inner city and inner west property market

In areas such as Erskineville and Alexandria, where median house prices range between $1.78 million and $1.9 million, paying even a small premium for a home in the desired school catchment can add around $50,000 to the purchase price.

The inner city and inner west is a big drawcard for families, featuring many of the State’s most highly regarded primary and high schools.

Among the top-ranked primary schools in the area are Summer Hill Public School, ranked 22, Newington College, ranked 39, Ashfield Public School, ranked 85, and Trinity Grammar School, ranked 98.

Top ranking high schools include Sydney Girls High, ranked 4, Sydney Boys High, ranked 6, Fort St High, ranked 10, Trinity Grammar, ranked 47, Newington College, ranked 49, Tempe High School, ranked 74, and International Grammar School, ranked 88.

In addition, Alexandria Park Community School and Sydney Secondary College have highly sought-after selective streams, while Newtown High School of the Performing Arts and Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design cater to students with creative interests and have competitive entry criteria.

While not all the schools listed above have specified catchment zones, many families choose to base themselves close to their children’s schools, potentially pushing up property prices.

Investors should also take school catchments into consideration, as properties in these areas may also command higher rents.

To see the catchment areas for inner west schools, visit the Department of Education’s School Public School Finder page.