As many families scramble to move before the new school term in September, the demand for family homes is growing.
“There are not enough family homes on the market,” says Lisa Mackenzie, Regional Sales Director, South West London who estimates that 50% of the buyers in her region are looking for houses.
The criteria for buying a family home varies but some of the most sought after houses are those close to good state schools. According to analysis from property website PrimeLocation, London homes within well-regarded school catchment areas, carry an average premium of 7% (though it can be more).
A three bedroom Victorian terrace within the catchment area of Furzedown primary in Tooting, costs approximately £550,000 to £650,000.00. Just outside this area, prices are up to 10% lower. “School catchment is most relevant with £500,000 to £700,000 priced houses,” says Mackenzie, who adds that it becomes less of a criteria, the more expensive the home is.
Prices in areas such Wimbledon and Earlsfield have risen so quickly – a three to four bedroom home in Wimbledon can be in the region of one million pounds - and become so popular that catchments areas are less important. Though some families still buy in the catchment area of popular state schools others choose homes in these suburbs to be near the good private schools.
Arguably the best value homes, are those near faith or selective schools but which are not “catchment dependent”. Many of the large Victorian and Edwardian villas in Streatham fall into this category and are in demand. The four and five bedroom homes which cost roughly £900,000, are spacious, at 2,500 square feet, often have large, 100 foot gardens and offer good value. On Wandsworth Common, a six minute train journey away, the same size home would be well in excess of £1.5million.
More affordable boroughs are also popular with people wanting to trade areas. Robert Cornthwaite, Manager of KFH Streatham branch, sees many buyers swop a big house in Balham for a similar size but significantly cheaper home in Streatham, to free up money for private school fees. Cornthwaite says, “There is a buyer for everything at the moment”.