Government school zones or catchment areas are a restriction placed on the number of students a particular school can take based on a geographical boundary around the school. These zones require that a student’s permanent residential address be within a specific neighbourhood to be eligible for a place.
Due to top Melbourne government schools (such as Melbourne Girls College and Balwyn High) being in such high demand, most schools require parents to provide bills and lease agreements as proof of their residency within the catchment area to enrol their child. Some schools have even been rumoured to hire private investigators because of cases of address fraud by desperate parents.
As a result of these highly sought after strict catchment areas, properties within Melbourne’s top public school zones are fetching premium prices in comparison to real estate located just outside the zone.
Research by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has revealed that homes located in the ‘right’ public school zones can increase their value by almost $600k, when compared to prices in neighbouring suburbs.
Geoff White, REIV CEO, said access to high quality amenities and services- particularly schooling and education- is a key driver of price growth Melbourne wide.
‘Rather than paying private school fees, parents of school-aged children are increasingly investing that money in the family home and buying into areas zoned for top performing public schools’, Mr White said.
The ASG Planning for Education Index revealed the cost to send a child through private school in Melbourne in 2016 would be $15,280 a year for primary and $26,957 for the year at secondary level.
Paying a ‘school zone premium’ seems to make a lot of sense. Melbourne parents are smartly opting to invest in public school-zoned houses rather than paying exorbitant private school fees, where once the kids finish their schooling they can sell up their asset for big money.
It’s seemingly a win-win. Your child receives some of the best education in the state while your asset (the family home) appreciates in value over the duration of their schooling.
However, whether you can buy into one of the top school catchment zones is another matter, with strong competition from fellow parents wanting access to high quality education.
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