Demand for schools, demand for homes

Parents in Herts are being encouraged to plan ahead as they consider the best secondary school for t

Parents in Herts are being encouraged to plan ahead as they consider the best secondary school for their child - Credit: Archant

Before the school term ended for the summer, the demand for property (both lettings and sales) in the town centres of Harpenden and St Albans was growing at an unprecedented rate due to the proximity of properties to the schools in the area.

In May, Julian David, an Associate Director at Savills in Harpenden, said: “The town market has been extremely busy all year and demand has been further exacerbated by a lack of quality stock becoming available between £500,000 and £1 million. This typically tends to be the family house market and, because of the quality of schools, it is rare for property to become readily available. The demand is such that when something does come up for sale, we receive a high level of viewings and offers from competitive parties, often completing a sale within a small time frame and at or just above guide price.”

Roger Pollard, Head of Savills Home Counties Residential, added at the time: “The result of the General Election ought to bring with it renewed political stability and economic confidence and we are hoping that we will see an increase in the quantity of high calibre stock at this level of the market place as the year progresses.”

Did it?

House prices were reportedly increasing by £100 per day shortly after the Conservative victory last spring. Values were averaging at £179,817 - almost £9,000 higher than the previous year. The average London house price was up £47,000 and grew 10 percent in 28 of the capital’s 33 boroughs.

Managing director of Garrington Property Finders, Jonathan Hopper commented that it is “encouraging to see how well prices held up in April”, when it was unclear if a new government would bring new property taxes. “Since the election the market has quickly become much more free-flowing, with energised buyers and supply improving dramatically. Buyer demand and confidence are robust.”

The lettings market has been healthy in the area as well, from May through to now.

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Bernadette Oliver, Head of Savills Harpenden Lettings, said four months ago that “this year, with increasing competition to secure a place in a good school, we are finding that demand is being further catalysed by many local families who are willing to consider the hope it will better improve their chances of securing a place at a local school. Historically tenants have always been drawn to this area by the quality of the schools and at this time of year we usually see an upsurge in demand as tenants want to settle their families before the start of the new academic year in September.”

September is now upon us. Does this mean the demand settles, or is the quality of education in the region something that draws potential residents throughout the whole year?

Speaking to the Herts Advertiser today, Ms. Oliver commented that “Harpenden has such an excellent reputation for state schooling there is an attraction all year round. However it is significantly increased leading up to the start of the new year in September which reflects the demand for family homes around the school catchment areas.”

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, buyers will pay - on average - an 8 percent premium on a property located within the catchment area of well reputed school, which further explains the surge in the Herts towns and villages.