School zones impact property prices

School zones impact property prices

When the eagerly anticipated catchment for the Inner Sydney High School was announced just before Christmas, many in the local community were disappointed to find that streets a stone’s throw to the west are excluded from the zone.

The new school, currently under construction in Sydney’s Surry Hills, is due to open its doors to Year 7 students in 2020.

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Price growth in the catchment zones for top ranked schools is generally better than average right across New South Wales.

So are some local homeowners missing out on a windfall? Surry Hills real estate agent David Servi of Spencer Servi says the effects are harder to measure in the inner city.

“School zones are a big selling point in some parts of Sydney such as the north shore, where they’re used as one of the main marketing tools,” he says.

“But until now that hasn’t been the case around the inner city.

“The population is traditionally a more transient one and there just haven’t been any schools close enough to make a difference.

“That’s all changing, however, as more families are enjoying the inner city lifestyle. It’s hard to say if the new school will affect those properties that are out of area — but being in the zone will definitely be a benefit to vendors.”

Further west in Newtown, Charles Bailey from Urbane Property says competition for homes in the catchment for Newtown Performing Arts High School is stiff.

“In the inner west, our schools are bursting at the seams so there’s no chance of getting in if you’re out of area. Newtown Performing Arts is top of the list for many buyers and it has a tiny catchment, so the right location can have a big impact on the number of potential buyers and the price of a home.”

But even the best laid plans can go awry. The Department of Education changes school catchment areas from time to time, often to make them smaller as the school-age population grows.

A new school at Bella Vista, built to accommodate spiralling primary school enrolments in Sydney’s Hills District, has meant that catchments for the 2019 intake have been adjusted at three other local schools. One real estate agent estimates that this translates to an average $50K boost in value for homes still in area over those that are now excluded.

The NSW Department of Education said in a statement that the “catchment boundary adjustments process is independent of any positive or negative impact on real estate value of individual dwellings”.

Meanwhile, back in Surry Hills, state education minister Rob Stokes has asked the department of education to urgently review the school’s boundaries to ensure a “fairer enrolment catchment”. A response is expected by the end of January.

Parents — and homeowners — nervously await the results.

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