1 in 10 parents buy houses based on schools

Research by Nationwide demonstrates the increasing desperation of parents scrambling to secure what they see as the best education for their children.

Nearly a quarter of UK parents of children of school age would be prepared to pay between 2% and 10% more for a new home – potentially thousands of pounds extra – in order to be in the catchment area of a good state school, according to research by Nationwide.

In a sign of the growing desperation of parents scrambling to secure the best education for their youngsters by living close to the top state schools, nearly one in ten (8%) admit they would shell out a premium of more than 10% extra for their house, while 8% would pay up to an additional 2%.

The research, published today by the UK’s largest building society, the Nationwide, and carried out by YouGov, also shows that parents are already making house purchase choices based on schools. Nearly one in five parents (18 %) admit that a school league table or school Ofsted rating has influenced where they chose to live. It comes as parents are currently doing the rounds of open days held at primary and secondary schools, for admission next year.

The link between high house prices and good school catchment areas is already established, but this is the first research to try and gauge just what level of premium parents say they are prepared to pay – regardless of whether or not they can afford it…

Richard Napier, Nationwide’s divisional director for savings and mortgages, said: “Choosing the right school for your child is possibly one of the most important decisions a parent will make and it appears league tables and Ofsted reports play a significant part in that decision.”

He said competition for places at the UK’s best state schools continued to increase and “although household finances remain stretched, it is significant that a number of parents are willing to pay more on the price of a new home to ensure their child goes to a good school. Taking the cost of a typical UK home, any parent willing to pay 10% more would need to find an additional £17,000 on the total cost of the house, which is a lot of money in the current climate. And, this is before you factor in the cost of items such as uniform, PE kit, lunch and even travel to and from school.”

YouGov surveyed 1,012 UK parents of children aged 5-16 years whose child will be attending school in the next academic year. The online survey was carried out between 7 and 13 August.

I suppose this doesn’t come as a huge surprise to many people, especially when you consider certain areas will be higher performing than others, other areas will have more school places. In the current climate this becomes even more the case, with the alleged shortfall in places due to the current baby boom we’re in. I still find it amusing how we’re in a baby boom straight after a recession. It’s almost like someone goes ‘right we’re in a bit of a tight spot. Our incomes aren’t getting any higher, and the cost of living is increasing. I know what we should do! Let’s have a baby.’ I really am weird sometimes …

In all seriousness I’m surprised it’s only around 1 in 10. I would have thought with the scramble for places that it would be significantly more. But then again, with household incomes on the downslope, less people will be able to buy houses unless they borrow money, which is relatively cheap at the moment due to the Bank of England’s low interest rates. Borrowing money isn’t so cheap if you use Wonga.com though (I still don’t see why people actually go for these businesses).

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