Primary school zoning pulls buyers and may be pushing up house prices

Lydia and Rob Joyes with their kids Angus, Edward and Matilda live in Hawthorn and are in the zone for Auburn South Primary School. The Age. Photo: Angela Wylie. November 11 2014.

Julia Hinde

It’s a well-known fact that buying in the catchment of a top performing government secondary school can push house prices through the roof.

But what was once a phenomenon of coveted secondary schools might now be flowing onto primary schools, with parents beginning to pay a premium to be in certain primary school zones.
“It’s drifted down,” explains Arch Staver, sales director at Nelson Alexander. “It was always about high school, is it in the university high zone?

“People are getting an early start. The My School website is beginning to have some impact.”

He says in his area, parents are particularly keen to get their children into Clifton Hill Primary School on Gold Street. “Gold Street is one of the most coveted schools in the inner city. It’s always been my experience that bidders are more enthusiastic in the Gold Street zone.”

He adds that, “we do find more and more tertiary-educated people who become parents like to have an active involvement in the primary school”.

Di Henderson, business manager at Clifton Hill Primary, confirmed the school currently only takes students where they are the closest school. She adds that for the past two or three years, people have been moving into the area for the school.

Across town in Boroondara, a number of primary schools are affecting house prices, according to David Gillham, director at Noel Jones. He cites specifically Auburn South, Camberwell South, Hartwell and Camberwell Primary schools, the latter of which offers a French immersion program. “People will pay extra to get into the zone,” says Mr Gillham.

When mum of two Sing Hii moved house last year, it was very important to her that she bought in the zone of Camberwell Primary School. “We sold and bought in zone,” she explains, adding that she believes she paid a premium to be in zone. With a child starting prep in 2015, Mrs Hii says, “Of the schools I have seen and heard about, it comes out tops.”

She said she was impressed by the results and by what she heard. “We had a lot of friends in playgroups who could send their children to Scotch who chose to send their children to Camberwell and raved about it. It was very important to me.”

Further out, Doncaster Gardens Primary School is another school having a positive impact on house prices, according to Dallas Taylor, director of Jellis Craig in Doncaster. “It’s an exceptional school,” he says. “All families want to get in there. It seems to have a strong pull, particularly from the Asian community.”

He suggests prices in zone may be increased by five to ten per cent.
Lydia Joyes moved with her husband Rob and three children into the Auburn South primary zone in June 2013 just before her oldest Angus started prep. She liked the general area. Being in the catchment of Auburn South was a bonus. “I think it does impact house prices,” she said.

“You do pay a premium.” She adds that prices in some parts of the zone are “out of control”. “I don’t know if it’s the park or the school or the combination,” she says, adding that, “If you were looking at a school like Auburn South compared to private school fees, maybe it’s worth investing in real estate.”

Also having an impact on house prices are Hampton and Black Rock primaries, says Kate Smith, of Hocking Stuart in Sandringham. “People definitely want to be in zone. It’s supply and demand so obviously it will affect prices. It’s not the only reason but it’s definitely a contributing factor.”

Andrew Wilson, senior economist at the Domain Group, is more cautious about the general impact of primary schools on house prices. He notes there are some niche schools like Camberwell Primary. “But I am not sure it creates the same sort of energy as a Balwyn High,” he says.
He adds that people are choosing to move into certain primary school zones which then feed into high performing government secondary schools. “People start to decide on secondary school at primary school level,” he explains. “They decide to get into the area early.”

Some schools with pull:

  • Caulfield South
  • Ripponlea
  • Camberwell
  • Camberwell South
  • Clifton Hill Gold Street
  • Spensley Street
  • Auburn South
  • Hartwell
  • Hawthorn West
  • Canterbury
  • Doncaster Gardens
  • Serpell
  • Hampton
  • Black Rock