How schools impact buying decisions

Private Property South Africa
Adrian Goslett

Ask any property expert what the most important element is when looking to purchase their primary residential property and most would say location.

The age old mantra of location, location, location is as relevant as always and stands firm in today’s market, however the question is what determines a good location and how do those elements impact on buying decisions?

“One aspect that affects whether an area is regarded as a good location in terms of property investment is the proximity to amenities such as shopping malls and medical facilities. Another very important element that is playing a massive role in where people choose to purchase property, and therefore driving demand in general, is the proximity to schools. While buyers are concerned with the appreciation potential of their property, many family buyers are more concerned about how the area they live in could impact of their children’s education,” says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

He notes that most government schools have specific feeder areas, which means that children from those areas will get preference when enrolling at the school. While some schools may consider a parents work address, depending on whether they have space available in the school, as a general rule it is the child’s home address that will determine zoning. “Zoning rules are influencing buying decisions as many buyers are choosing the suburb the want to live in based on the school they want their child to attend,” says Goslett.

The Department of Education stipulates that schools must prioritise enrolments by the parent’s residential address, which includes parents who reside at their place of employment, as in the case of a domestic worker.

Next on the list would be children whose parent’s employment address are within the feeder zone, followed by all other applicants outside of the feeder areas that will be assessed on a first come, first serve basis subject to availability. Once all available spaces have been filled, the remaining applicants will be placed on a waiting list. The provincial Department of Education has an obligation to find all children on the waiting list a placement; however it obviously may not be at the parent’s first choice of school.

Goslett says that family buyers that have a particular school in mind can research and find out which areas fall within the feeder zone, in order for them to narrow down their property search within that specific region. “Even if a buyer does not currently have children, but plans to in the future, it is important to look at the schools in the area and plan for the eventuality of becoming a parent. Purchasing a property should be viewed as a long-term commitment, so buyers will need to have an idea of what they plan to do in the future and how the area or property they purchase could impact on those plans,” says Goslett.

He notes that in the instance where homeowners make the decision to send their children to private schools or independently owned learning institutions, acceptance feeder zones will be far less of a concern as these schools will have their own unique criteria for the admission of students. “However,” says Goslett, “even though the feeder zone will not apply to the private school system, buyers may still need to travel to and from the school each day, which will factor the property’s proximity to the school back into the decision-making process.”

Buyers will be able to get information on schools and their feeder zones by contacting their provincial Department of Education or visiting their website. The Department of Education has a nationwide database of all government schools that will be of assistance to family buyers. The database contains information such as the school address and contact details. Information on private and independent schools can be obtained from the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa.

“Purchasing a property is a big commitment and needs to be looked at as a long term investment. As such, homebuyers should choose their location and property carefully with all possible information at hand to ensure that if fits in with their future plans and their children’s education plan,” Goslett concludes.

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