We all know that location is critical when buying a new home – not only for the convenience of amenities but also for schools in the area. New school feeder zones have made this a hot topic in the property market, especially in Gauteng.
Although having children may not be on your agenda in the immediate future, buying a home is a long-term investment and it’s important to do some research into schools in the area before buying a home.
There is a saying that goes: “The best school for your child, is the one nearest your home.” Definitely rings true when selecting an area in which to live if you are planning a family or have a family already.
It’s a no-brainer that living close to your school of choice simply makes life easier in terms of travel time from school to work and attending after-school activities. This has resulted in “property hotspots” around the top-performing schools around Johannesburg – and where prices are generally higher than other outlying areas. (It’s the same in the UK, where this premium ranges between 3%-12%.)
Globally, experts agree that house prices are directly affected by the quality of the schools in the area, driving prices up around the most sought-after academic institutions. It also means property owners can achieve higher rental income, with tenants happy to sign longer-term contracts in order for their children to complete their schooling before relocating.
Leadhome property professionals believe properties close to good schools (both public and private) will retain their value, even in a fluctuating market.
In South Africa, there are a number of established public schools with a proven track record, achieving the best matric results, sports performances, or offering coveted arts programmes – places at these schools are in high demand.
Historically, school governing bodies have admission policies that favour families living in the suburb or area on a first-come, first served basis. Many parents have to jostle to enrol their children into the best government schools as preference is given to families living, or working, within a 5km radius of the school feeder zone*. Those living outside of that radius go onto a B list.
But now the Department of Education is extending the school feeder zones to include children living further afield. In Gauteng, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi announced last year that, from the 2020 admissions process, these zones will be widened to include children living within a 30km radius of a school.
More than 330 schools contested their new feeder zones but their concerns were addressed and resolved, according to the MEC. Lesufi said the feeder route extension would “play a significant role in ensuring that access to our schools is fair, transparent, and conducted in an equitable manner” and ensure that non-racialism becomes entrenched in all schools. The maps of the new 2067 feeder zones will be reviewed every three years.
However, there are still concerns about whether existing schools have the capacity to allow for increased applications. It’s too soon to see the implications of the new feeder zones, but the fact remains, it is always a good idea to buy a home in an area where the schools have a glowing reputation.
(*The current school feeder zone system does not apply to private schools or special-needs schools.)