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Choosing Schools...Buying Real Estate

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By : Nick Viner    99 or more times read
As buyers agents in Sydney, one of the most popular questions we are asked by homebuyers navigating the spectrum of different suburbs to choose from when buying real estate is “where are all the good schools?

This growing trend of parents who look for properties in close proximity to good schools when buying real estate was highlighted by the Sydney Morning Herald in its article, “Parents Make Moves on Top Schools” on 28 January 2009. It was reported, “Parents are buying real estate in areas close to desirable schools and intervening more than ever to ensure their children are positioned for success in their education.”

This article was largely based upon the research carried out by Craig Campbell, Helen Proctor and Geoffrey Sherington for their book, School Choice: How Parents Negotiate The New School Market In Australia, published by Allen & Unwin, 2009. The findings told us that, “Many of our interviewees thought about the schooling of their children before buying a house. The suburbs with acceptable schools or easy transport accessibility then determined where the search for a home would occur.”
Proximity to good schools is considered to be important for two main reasons for parents when buying real estate.

Firstly, no parent wants their child to be travelling long distances to and from school every day. The main concerns are that travelling too far can cause unnecessary tiredness and separation from local friends. The availability of good public transport is also a factor in determining travel time to school and can be a consideration used to determine the best place for buying real estate.

Secondly, where catchment zones apply, it is essential to live within the right zone to ensure enrollment at the right school. This is why statements about the accessibility of certain schools are a common feature of real estate advertising in some areas in Sydney.

For parents to select the right schools for their children, there may be a multitude of different academic, ex-curricular, cultural, religious and other criteria to consider. Perhaps regarded as controversial in some circles, the new “My School Website” ( has been established by the Federal Government to provide a variety of different information and statistics on close to 10,000 Government and Non-government schools in Australia. One of the main purposes of the website is to help parents to select the right schools for their children.

Without delving into the pros and cons of the new website, the homepage tells us that the site,
“Uses a new index of student and school characteristics, developed specifically for the purpose of identifying schools serving similar student populations. This enables schools’ results on national tests to be understood in a fair and meaningful way, and enables schools seeking to improve their performance to learn from other schools with statistically similar populations.”

Users of the site can search for schools by name or alternatively all the schools in a particular suburb or postcode. The search results provide a variety of different data on each selected school. Accordingly, the website can be used as a helpful tool in the selection of suitable schools and corresponding suburbs by parents considering buying real estate. However, the website does not provide geographic information on the location of schools outside the selected suburb. It also does not provide a means to compare all the schools within wider geographic areas such as all the best schools in the North Shore versus all the best schools in the Eastern Suburbs or the Inner West for example.

Another helpful resource for parents to use in buying real estate based on the location of good schools may be the school rankings of the annual HSC results. A review of the top 100 schools in 2009 reveals that the highest concentration of schools in the top 100 in New South Wales is to be found in the Eastern Suburbs (18), followed but the Upper North Shore (13). The Western Suburbs (11) scored a higher concentration of schools in the top 100 than the Lower North Shore (10) and the Inner West (9) although this should not come as a huge surprise given the size of Western Sydney (please see However, this list is far from conclusive and allows a comparison only of schools in respect of the performance of their year 12 students.
Nick Viner is the director of Buyers Domain. Buyers Domain are leading Sydney property buyers agents specialising in sourcing and purchasing quality homes and investment properties. For further information, please see

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