Melbourne schools creating property hotspots

Melbourne houses

Danny Baggs

Posted May 10, 2022


Whether or not you have kids, it’s important to consider school zones when purchasing property in Melbourne.

Public school catchments can drive up your potential property’s value. In fact, Melbourne school rankings often dictate the next suburban property hotspots. Stay ahead of the trend with this guide to Melbourne’s top schools and their resulting property markets.


How does public school zoning work in Victoria? 

School zones or catchment areas refer to the Department of Education and Training Victoria’s ‘lines’ on the map that tell schools where they must accept students from. Any student within a catchment area can attend the relevant public school.

School zones change regularly to help manage enrolment numbers, and changing school zones are always controversial when properties are ‘rezoned’ into different school catchment areas. If rezoned into a zone for a more desirable school, homeowners may receive windfall property value-adds. On the other hand, being rezoned could also mean that your assigned school is further away from your house.  
 
It can be difficult to get your child enrolled in a school outside of your catchment area due to limited capacities, and growing demand for enrolment places at the state's best schools.

Take the desirable McKinnon Secondary College zone, in the suburb of McKinnon, 12 km south-east of Melbourne's CBD. To keep up with the number of households wanting to live within the school's zone, more medium-density housing was constructed. But the higher number of eligible students living within the area meant that McKinnon had to restrict its zone. In 2022, however, McKinnon’s zone expanded again because it opened a new campus. This allowed for parts of Murrumbeena inside South Oakleigh’s zone to be allowed into McKinnon.

How do school catchment areas affect property prices?  

Kay & Burton Managing Director Ross Savas confirmed that school catchment areas can increase property prices. “People want to live near school catchment areas, so demand outweighs supply,” said Mr Savas. “Around the Boroondara area, we find a huge demand for the suburbs surrounding the leading schools."

Domain Group’s latest School Zones Report reveals that property prices in top-ranking public school zones have risen by between 20-40% over the 2020-1 period. The trend is set to continue, so if you have a preferred school for your children to attend, it may not pay to wait on purchasing a property in the relevant catchment area.

Some families lease out their own house, then rent within a desirable school zone until their children graduate. This is acceptable to schools, but these other tricks are unlawful:

  • Using the address of an investment property that you do not live in

  • Using the address of a property that you have rented but do not live in

  • Using the address of a friend or relative who you do not live with.

Schools may even conduct early morning address checks to remove families who have used false addresses to enrol in the school.

woman walking her school aged children to school

Property prices in some school zones have risen up almost 40%. Image: Getty


Top Melbourne school zones driving up property prices 

A recent report from Domain revealed the Melbourne primary and secondary schools that are driving up property prices. The fastest growing primary school zone property prices included Richmond Primary School (+ 39.6%), Heidelberg Primary School (+ 36.7%), Valkstone Primary School (+ 35.4%) and Glen Waverley Primary School (+ 33%).

Meanwhile, secondary schools that are rapidly driving up property prices include Diamond Valley College (+ 33.2%), St Helena Secondary College (+ 25.5%), Edgars Creek Secondary College (+ 25.3%) and Werribee Secondary College (+ 24.9%).

Is it still cheaper to send children to public schools? 

The number of students attending private schools in Victoria has flatlined as private school fees continue to rise. More families are choosing to send their children to public schools, which can save parents up to (or even more than) $30,000 a year.

That said, the more students attending public schools, the stricter zoning becomes and the competitiveness to land a property within budget in the right area to attend a preferred school, is driving up prices. Research from Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has shown that sale prices surge up to $446,000 higher for properties within a desirable catchment area as opposed to a similar house just outside the zone. 

Unlike private school fees, however, investments made into a public school zoned house can be ‘refunded’ by selling the house once your children’s schooling is complete. 

two dads watching their daughter run to school

Sale prices surge for properties within a desirable school catchment area . Image: Getty


How to land potential property bargains 

If you don’t have kids, you could land a great deal on a property in your preferred suburb by looking at houses that fall just outside of a catchment boundary. Properties just a few minutes’ walk apart might mean a massive difference on your mortgage repayments. 

With this simple trick, you can avoid competing with parents and investors looking to snap up any suitable property within the boundary.

School zones can and do change over time to better handle enrolment numbers, so you might even end up selling your property for a better price that reflects its current catchment area. On the other hand, you could also look for properties that have recently been removed from a catchment area for a good deal.

Which Melbourne suburbs should you consider? 

You may be able to predict the next suburban property hotspots by staying on top of new school openings. Investors can look to buy in areas where new schools are coming, in order to sell at a better price once demand for houses within that school’s zone increases. 

Proximity to the CBD is another key consideration. “Any suburb around Fitzroy, North Fitzroy, Collingwood, North Carlton are still great value for money, taking into account the proximity to the CBD,” said Mr Savas.

It would also be a smart idea to trawl My School, the Australian government’s school ranking website. My School publishes key data on the performance of every school in Australia. Using this free resource, you can better understand which schools are gaining in performance. Those schools will soon see more demand for nearby housing.

 

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