Easy access to a good school is the single most important consideration when parents with school-age children decide where to live, but homes with access to high-quality schools come with a significant house price premium attached, a survey by Savills Research has shown.

Homes in the vicinity of the top-performing 25% of secondary schools now cost 16% more than their county average, up from 13% in 2007.   At the extreme, homes in areas with a combination of good state and independent school options can be worth two or three times their county average.  In stark contrast, house prices around schools in the bottom quarter of the performance tables averaged 10% less than the county average.

During the recent downturn, property prices around the top-performing 25% of schools fell by just under 16% but prices for homes in the vicinity of the bottom 25% of schools dropped by more than 19%, suggesting that good schools can help to recession-proof a home.

‘On the face of it these are not massive differences, but they’re significant,’ says Lucian Cook, director of Savills Research.  ‘That’s a 21.5% difference in the size of the price fall between houses near the most successful schools and those near the worst performers.  It’s hard to conclude a direct cause and effect but it is clear from our analysis that a good education – state or private – almost invariably comes with an added cost in terms of the price of local property.’

Savills has identified educational super locations which offer a choice of at least five schools – both state and private – from the top quarter by academic performance, including at least one top-performing comprehensive school.  The locations have then been ranked by town and city suburb listings as shown below.

The average house price premium rises to 10% for the educational super towns.

Leatherhead (premium over Surrey average is 59%)

Winchester (premium 37%)

Tunbridge Wells (20%

Harrogate (20%)

Fareham, Bishop’s Stortford and Woking are the bargain locations for great educational choice, with house prices at a 17%, 5% and 4% discount compared to their county average.

Educational Super Suburban areas

Cities are harder to analyse so the researchers have drilled down to suburban areas, but here the results are distinctly more dramatic than for the towns, with good schools in the top quarter of the league table adding an average 37% to the value of a home.  Even more tellingly, house price premiums around the individual top-performing schools in the top ten educational suburbs average almost 70% above the city average.

Top of the educational super suburbs is Altrincham where house prices are more than twice the Greater Manchester average, while those in Hallam in Sheffield, Clifton in Bristol, and Solihull and Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands all have values at 50% above the city/metropolitan average.

And as the market recovers?

Data for the period of upturn of the past few months is to thin to draw any conclusions, says Mr Cook, but he expects the educational hotspots to lead the way when a sustained residential market recovery sets in.  ‘Areas around good schools tend to attract the more affluent buyers with more equity, and they’re the ones we expect to lead the way in any upturn.’

Giles Lawton, Savills Oxford: ‘Oxford is renowned for its many excellent schools, in both the independent and state sector: The Dragon, Rye St Antony, St Edward’s, Oxford High, Matthew Arnold and Magdalen College School, to name but a few. Couples move into the area even before their children are born to make sure they are in the right place when the time comes. If the Dragon School closed tomorrow property prices would immediately drop by 25%’.

William Peppitt, Savills Cranbrook, Kent provides a classic example of the demand that tends to build around desirable grammar schools such as Cranbrook. ‘It looks like a public school; the academic success and the sporting facilities are those of a public school. The only difference is that if you live within 10kms of the school gate, entrance is free. As a result, two-thirds of our buyers seek out catchment properties.’

Toby Cockcroft, Savills Harrogate, points out that the town has several good schools, both state and private. ‘The catchment area for Harrogate Grammar School is so tight that people move in and around town purely by street to send their children there. I’d say around 30% of the people moving to the area are coming purely for the schools.’

Richard Winter, Savills Esher, Surrey: ‘The area appeals to families making the move out from South-West London.  There are high performing infant, state primary and secondary schools in both Weybridge and Esher  and the excellent choice adds at least 10% to property values, sometimes more if the house falls into the right state school catchment area.’

Clive Moon, Savills Wimbledon: ‘Wimbledon boasts top independents King’s College School and Wimbledon High and I have yet to come across a buyer who is not moving for the schools.’

Paul Jarman, Savills Barnet: ‘The proliferation of excellent local schools, both state and independent, has for many years been a major driver of choice for new residents, with over 60% of the young families we see moving because of education.  Indeed, some of our clients have moved only a couple of roads to get into the catchment area of some of the smaller, state schools.  Among the leading schools are: Queen Elizabeth School for Boys, Barnet, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, Elstree, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys, Elstree, St Albans School, St Albans and North London Collegiate for Girls, Edgware.’