If you’re moving to Surrey and have children, one of your criteria for finding a house will be schools. Fortunately, Surrey is lucky enough to have some of the best state and independent schools in the country, but that does have an impact on the local property market.
In many areas housing near popular ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ state schools comes at a premium. The Department of Education (DoE) published a study earlier this year that found that prices are on average 8% higher close to top performing primary schools, and 6.8% of the best secondary schools.
So when starting your property search, and organising your finances such as mortgages, you’ll need to factor this in. Don’t take the average property price in a Surrey town as a benchmark for budgeting your house move. If you hope to send children to a popular school you might have to find an additional £40,966 to finance your move*.
Of course this could be a lot more in expensive areas of the county, less in the more affordable areas of Surrey.
Catchment Areas And Buying Property
It’s not just about catchment areas either. If a school is oversubscribed it doesn’t matter that your property is within the defined catchment area as the school will take those closest first – and those that meet other criteria. Therefore to increase your chances of getting a place at your chosen school, you’ll need to buy as close as possible to the school building.
This can result in a ripple effect in the property market with those houses closest commanding more than properties towards the outer edges of the catchment area. You could find that you can get an extra bedroom for the same money if you’re prepared to buy further away.
Buying close to a popular school is no guarantee of a place either. I’ve come across many parents who’ve found themselves moving to a desirable street close to the school of their choice, only to find themselves on a waiting list for an available place. It’s easier to secure that place if you’re applying at the same time as everyone else; however you will have had to have moved into your new home by the admission deadline.
So where do you start when trying to buy a family home in Surrey and ensure your children get a great education?
Buying A Family Home In Surrey
Mortgages and finance – first off find out exactly how much you can borrow to finance your move. There is little point in pinning your hopes on a top performing school if you’re priced out of the market in that area. If you’ve been on the mortgage lenders’ websites and haven’t managed to get quite enough to buy, it may be worth speaking to a mortgage broker or financial advisor. They may be able to find a way to get that extra money you need – within reason.
Research the property market – having identified a school/s you would like your children to attend, find out how much property is selling for close by. Speak to the local estate agents who will be able to advise you on the best roads to buy on, and what radius around the school you should concentrate your search.
The closer the better, but bear in mind that if you don’t get that school you could then be travelling much further afield to your 2nd choice.
Surrey County Council also collate data on the furthest distances each Surrey school has offered places to in previous years, you can search for this information here.
Speak to schools – the admissions office at your preferred school should be able to give you an indication of your chances of getting a place. If your children are looking to join the school ‘in year’ the admissions office will be able to tell you if there’s a waiting list.
Unfortunately even if you’re told that you’re at the top of the waiting list that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the first place that comes up. If another child applies for a place and meets other criterion that is more of a priority, you’ll get bumped.
Time your house move with the admissions dates – where possible try to buy and move into your new home before the deadline for applying to schools passes. You’ll need to do this by October 31st for secondary schools and January 15th for primary school entries.
If you move after the deadline there is a 1 month period where you can apply with evidence of your new address and not be treated as a late application. After this date, applications are treated as late (‘on time’ ones are allocated first). If you move 3 months after the admission deadline you’ll be put on the waiting list/s unless a place is already available.
Have a plan B – as you can see there are a number of factors that make buying a house and getting a place at a popular school quite challenging. For this reason it’s good to have a plan B. Fortunately many Surrey towns are blessed with several good schools – they may not all be ‘outstanding’ but they are all delivering a highly quality education and pastoral care. For this reason I would recommend that you don’t get too hung up on one particular school over others. Keep your options open so that you can widen your property search; find a home that doesn’t overstretch your finances; provides the space and lifestyle factors you want; as well as being within a school catchment area that offers a good chance of a place.
To find out how different schools in Surrey are performing, click on this link.
If you are struggling to find a mortgage that will allow you to move close to the school of your choice, give me a call and we can explore your circumstances in more detail. Call 01252 759 233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
* The average house price of £512,072 in Surrey would go up £40,965.76 near one of the best primary schools and £34,820.90 near one of the top secondary schools.