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Doing the Maths on School Zones

For families trying to find the ideal address, location within a particular school zone is often of paramount importance, and can have a major effect on the value of a property. While private schools are generally not restricted by designated zones, their convenience and proximity to an address will often have an affect on that property’s attractiveness and price. However, it’s accessing Melbourne’s best state schools that can cause the biggest dilemmas for homebuyers.

For many years, the Victorian Education Department has sought to prevent overcrowding of popular government schools by creating ‘catchment zones’ for both primary and secondary schools, effectively restricting applications based on geographic location. While the boundaries for high schools are broader than their junior counterparts, being in the ‘right’ zone can add thousands to the value of a home. Put simply, the higher up the VCE performance scale your local school is, the more you’ll be expected to pay for your home.

High schools in Victoria are ranked by their VCE performance. Individual student achievement is calculated within a 0-50 band, and then averaged out across the particular school. A school score of 30 is about average, and a score of 40 or above equating to approximately the top 8% in the state.

A 2015 study published on propertyobserver.com.au found that for every 1% increase in the study score above the 40 mark, a property could add almost $20,000 to its value. A similar study noted that a house just inside a popular high school zone could fetch a 14% premium above its neighbour, which sat out of the same catchment area.

Of course, the school zone ‘premium’ is a very important factor for any new homebuyer to consider, because, even if falling within a desirable catchment area is not on your list of priorities, it will still affect the price (and of course the potential return) of a property you might be interested in.