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Proximity to school now a priority for a third of young housebuyers

More than one-third of property buyers in the 25 to 45 age group are moving house on the grounds of securing proximity to a target school or to locate in its catchment area, it can be revealed.

Agents with both of Ireland’s largest estate agency networks said that increased pressure on school places through the last five years has meant school catchment was achieving unprecedented priority among homebuyers today.

Across city locations especially, agents are now commonly reporting “catchment premiums” – increased home values thanks to location in a favoured catchment area – of up to 12pc. This can add €42,000 to the value of a standard €350,000 residence in Dublin.

“Across our branches we estimate school catchment is in the top two priorities for purchase in about 60pc of cases in the 25 to 45 age group. We would think schools take top precedent in over a third of cases, ahead of location,” Mark Stafford of DNG said.
The priority becomes heightened in “younger” locations where home building has been taking place. Carole Ross of Sherry FitzGerald’s Templeogue office in Dublin deals with properties in Templeogue, Rathfarnham and Ballycullen.

“A hundred per cent of family buyers ask about catchment. In perhaps 40pc of cases I’d estimate it’s the main priority for buying. Schools have become such a concern you’re seeing people moving home just to get into the right catchment area. I myself moved house across post codes to get into the catchment area of the school we wanted. Were it not for that, we would have happily stayed put.”

In some suburban locations where schools are under extreme pressure, agencies are suggesting almost half of sales are school prioritised – that is, undertaken with the prime objective of locating in a favoured school’s catchment area.

Primary school catchment areas are a factor in more than 45pc of house purchases in south east Co Dublin, according to Ed Dempsey of REA Ed Dempsey Real Estate.

“We are seeing instances now where parish catchment boundaries are becoming more of a driver than postal addresses,” he said. “We sold a house in Clonskeagh this week where purchasers were looking because it was in the Mount Merrion parish catchment area. We are finding there is a 10pc premium closer to a good school.”

So urgent has the need for specific schools become that for the first time, buyers are seeking homes in catchment areas before they have children.
“We are definitely seeing a lot of first-time buyers with no children insisting on certain school catchment areas,” said Barry McDonald of REA McDonald in Lucan.

“Ten years ago, this requirement was not on the radar of young couples with no children. A basic three-bed semi that might sell for €320,000 in one parish will fetch €360,000-plus in a neighbouring one, a ‘school premium’ of over 12pc.”
The ‘catchment effect’ has caused values to split even on the same roads. Conor Gallagher of Gallagher Quigley, which specialises in sales in Clontarf, Howth, Sutton, Fairview, Baldoyle and Killester, said where catchment areas split, there is as much as 3pc difference in the value of identical houses.

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