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Top-performing schools draw buyers to the Western Cape

09 Feb 2016

It is well known that the Western Cape has come out on top in the country for matric passes in 2015. No less than 27 schools obtained a 100% matric pass rate for the fifth consecutive year.

This four bedroom house in Rondebosch, Cape Town, has a lounge with fireplace, underfloor heating, an entertainment area, and landscaped garden. It is on the market for R11.75 million - click here to view.

The Cape is renowned for its excellent selection of private and government schools, not just in the upmarket suburbs, but in or close to just about every neighbourhood across the metro and surrounding areas.

This is according to Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff group, who says this is one of the key driving factors for the housing market. Even buyers that migrate to the city from areas such as Johannesburg tend to be drawn to suburbs and areas with excellent schools.

Seeff says the competition for space in schools - not just in private, but also government schools - is such that there is tremendous demand for homes close to or within the catchment areas of good schools. So much so, that buyers are often prepared to pay a premium of 20% to 40% for such a property.

“The desire to live close to schools is also something that cuts across the demographics as most parents, regardless of their income bracket, now want to reside within the catchment area of a good school. And there is no shortage of good schools across the metro and surrounding area,” says Seeff.

“When we look at the list of 27 schools that obtained a 100% matric pass rate, we note that these are not just schools located in the R5 million to R10 million-plus suburbs either.”

He says these schools are also in middle-class areas such as Parklands and Sunningdale in the Blouberg area, along with Strand, as well as in Boland towns such as Paarl and Stellenbosch, and even in country towns such as Bonnievale and Riversdale.

Seeff says it generally does not matter where you buy when it comes to the Cape, as you are likely to be within relatively close proximity to a good school.

This home in Newlands offers four bedrooms, lounge with gas fireplace and outdoor entertainment area. It is on sale for R6.9 million - click here to view.

For example, the Southern Suburbs residential belt that stretches from Rosebank and Rondebosch to Tokai, boasts about 160 schools in all - the highest concentration in the country.

Seeff’s licensee for the area, James Lewis, says it therefore comes as no surprise that the area is home to no less than ten of the schools that boast a 100% pass rate for 2015.

Ronbebosch tops the list, with five schools in the area boasting a 100% pass rate, namely Bishops, Rondebosch Boys’ High, Vista Nova High, Rustenburg Girls’ High and Star International High School in the Sybrand Park area.

Charmaine Scott-Wilson, agent for the neighbourhood, says there are about 16 private and government schools in the Rondebosch area alone.

Aside from the high concentration of schools, there is also the University of Cape Town (UCT) that adds to the high demand for homes in this area.

Scott-Wilson says the demand for a home near a school or close to the university is such that there are now almost no houses on offer below the R3 million price band.

“Even those priced to around R6 million are snapped up quite rapidly and seldom need to be advertised,” she says.

“We battle to keep up with the demand, especially during the early part of the year, and it is still an excellent period for sellers here. Houses close to top schools such as Bishops can now sell for upwards of R8 million to R12 million.”

This five bedroom house in Strand North, Strand, has open-plan living areas, air conditioning, underfloor heating and built-in braai. It is on the market for R4.995 million - click here to view.

Given the excellent performance of schools in the area, she says she expects the market to remain resilient, despite what is set to be a rather challenging year ahead.

Neighbouring Newlands is home to two of the top performing schools, Sans Souci Girls’ High and Westerford High.

It is now quite common for homes in this area to sell for upwards of R5 million to as much as R15 million. Here too, there is now almost nothing to buy under R3 million in terms of freehold houses and it remains a good phase for sellers.

Lewis says other top schools in the area that have made the 100%-pass rate list include Herschel Girls’ School in Claremont, Springfield Convent in Wynberg and Constantia Waldorf School.

Johan Meyer, licensee for Pinelands, says this area boasts a top school, Cannons Creek, along with Pinelands High which had excellent results last year. The suburb is popular with family buyers, with younger buyers now moving here in greater numbers.

Meyer says unlike the neighbouring Southern Suburbs, Pinelands still offers plenty of homes in the R2.5 million to R4 million price bands. Some 60% of all sales over the last year were, in fact, still below the R3 million price mark.

Another area where the prevalence of top schools is a major driver of the demand for property is the Blouberg area, says Wouter Pentz, Seeff’s local licensee.

For example, Pentz says there are about 20 schools, including a number of private schools. Three schools in the area made it to the top pass rate list, namely Parklands College, CBD St John’s and Elkanah House.

This property in Pinelands, Cape Town, has three bedrooms, study and wooden floors. It is available for R3.495 million - click here to view.

Demand is likely to remain high as the area is still seen as affordable despite the excellent price growth over the last few years. For example, Pentz says you can still find a nice family house for R1.2 million to R1.6 million. There is also an excellent selection of new homes that are still selling for under R2.3 million.

“Aside from freehold homes, the area is renowned for its many security complexes that offer an excellent selection of homes suitable for families. Luxury buyers have plenty to choose from in the R5 million to R10 million range, with homes close to the beach now priced to around R20 million,” he says.

“No matter which suburb you choose in the Blouberg area, you are likely to be close to a good school.”

Alten Vermaak, manager and agent for the Strand branch, says this area boasts excellent schools, with at least two making the 100% pass rate list. Here too, it is the relaxed seaside lifestyle and top class facilities and infrastructure that draws buyers, not to mention the affordability. For example, you can still find a nice family home for around the R1.2 million to R2.2 million price mark.

Top-end buyers looking for more space, luxury finishes and added extras such as a sea view or golf estate location, though, also still have plenty to choose from as there is now a superb selection of top end homes priced to around R10 million, says Vermaak.

The Boland towns of Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester also boast top-pend schools that made the 100% matric pass rate list. This includes Boland Landbouskool, La Rochelle and Paarl Girls’ High in Paarl, along with Bloemhof and Rhenish Girls’ High Schools in Stellenbosch and Pioneer School in Worcester.

Five of the Cape’s country towns also made the list of top schools. These are Bonnievale, Heidelberg, Lutzville, Riversdale (Oakdale Landbouskool) and Porterville.

While not immune to economic challenges and certainly set for a challenging year ahead, Seeff says he expects the Cape property market to continue its solid performance. High demand areas, including those with top schools, are likely to continue seeing strong demand and good prices for sellers, provided they remain realistic with their price expectations.
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