The right time to move if you need to live closer to the schools you prefer
If you need to relocate so you can get your child into a particular school next year, now's the time to do so, says Rudi Botha, CEO of SA's leading bond originator BetterBond.
"It currently takes between three and four months to sell most homes, and an average of three months to register the transfer of a new home, so parents should count on a six-month process to secure a new address in the feeder or catchment area of their chosen school," he notes. "And since online applications in some provinces are already closed and most schools won't consider even late applications or transfers after September, now's the time to get going if you want to be able to apply in time for 2020 - or maybe even 2021."
Botha says there are many SA parents who can't afford to send their children to private schools, and others who don't want to do that for various reasons, but who obviously still want their children to obtain the best education possible and, when it comes to high school, to do well in matric.
"To try to ensure this, these parents will naturally concentrate their efforts on getting their children into those public schools that have built up a reputation for academic excellence, sporting tradition and great matric results - as parents do all over the world - with the result that many of these institutions receive thousands of applications a year, for just a few places available."
To solve this over-subscription problem, he says, many school governing bodies have written admission policies that give preference to applicants for whom the school is literally the nearest one to where they live, on a first-come-first-served basis. Proof of address is usually required, and the effect of this has often been to restrict the feeder area for each school to the same suburb or perhaps one or two immediately adjacent.
"In addition, parents increasingly prefer to live close to the schools their children attend, in order to avoid traffic during the morning when dropping them off, and also to be within easy reach of after-school activities and weekend sports matches.
"And this has all led to the evolution of property 'hotspots' around the most sought-after schools, where homes for sale are generally in short supply and prices generally show faster and higher growth than properties in the surrounding areas."
These include suburbs such as:
- Universitas, Westdene, Waverley and Brandwag in Bloemfontein;
- Wynberg, Newlands, Rondebosch, Rosebank, Claremont, Mowbray, Kenilworth, Bellville and Durbanville in Cape Town;
- Die Hoewes, Eldoraigne and Zwartkop in Centurion;
- Glenwood, Musgrave, Westville, Durban North, Virginia and Hillcrest in Durban;
- Stirling, Selbourne and Vincent in East London;
- Parktown, Parkview, Greenside, Victory Park, Kensington, Bedfordview, Observatory, and Glenvista in Johannesburg;
- Walmer and Summerstrand in Port Elizabeth; and
- Waterkloof, Lynnwood, Brooklyn, Arcadia, Menlo Park and Garsfontein in Pretoria.
Botha says there are indications now that the feeder zones for government schools around the country could soon be extended to give more learners a chance to attend the most sought-after institutions. This is certainly already the case in Gauteng, where it was recently announced by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
"However, while this will also be good for parents in that it will give them a bigger choice of suburbs in which to buy in order to access certain schools, and probably take some of the upward pressure off prices in the top 'school suburbs', we foresee that it is going to further boost the number of applications for entry to these schools, making it even more imperative to move home and apply as early as possible."
One of the best ways to speed up the process, he says, is to consult a reputable bond originator like BetterBond and obtain bond pre‑approval before you go house hunting. "This will assist you to determine your buying capacity and concentrate on homes that are in your price range. It will also let sellers know that you are a serious buyer and give you more power in price negotiations.
"Then once you have made an offer to purchase, we will use our multi-lender application process to make sure you get your home loan at the best interest rate and on the best terms possible - at no extra cost to you. This is very important because even a small rate difference can save you many thousands of Rands over the lifetime of that loan."
At the moment, says Botha, the average variation between the best and worst interest rate offered on a bond application is 0,5%, and on a 20-year bond of R1,5m, for example, that translates into potential savings of more than R120 000 over the lifetime of the bond, as well as a total of about R6000 a year off the monthly bond instalments.