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House prices can be 33.5 per cent higher for the best local primary schools

Geographers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Williams College, USA, gave the first precise estimate of the cost of house prices for good quality local schools at the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) on Thursday 4 September.

A study of the Reading area in Berkshire has given the opportunity for an accurate prediction of the price premium for houses in the catchment areas of popular primary and secondary schools. The research estimates show that the value of moving to the best possible secondary school catchment area would be an increase of £23,750 - or 18 per cent. Moving from the worst to the best possible primary school area would have increased the house price by £42,550 - or 33 per cent.

But only the best schools commanded major money, according to Paul Cheshire (LSE) and Stephen Sheppard (Williams College, USA) who conducted the research. There were no real price differences for houses in the catchment areas of average schools compared to those assigned to the very worst schools.

The estimates were made from a sample of 490 houses sold in the Reading area during 1999 and 2000. School quality was measured by performance in Key Stage two tests and GCSE exams in the period leading up to the house sale.

The researchers used cutting-edge geographical technology called Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to identify the exact location of every house in the sample and match each house to the LEA assigned school. GIS also let the researchers merge in information about amenities, such as local open space, noise disturbance, how big the garden is or whether the house is beside the Thames.

Co-author of the study, Paul Cheshire said: 'Estate agents have been telling us for a long time that house prices are higher if there is a good local school. Our study gives a precise estimate of this increase. From a wider perspective our results confirm that getting your children into a better school is conditioned on income. Certainly in places like Reading it does not matter whether good schools are provided 'free' out of taxes or through the private market in education. If you cannot afford the fees you will not be able to afford the house that gets your kids access to the best state school either.'


For further information please contact 

  • Tina Gardner, Royal Geographical Society, on 020 7591 3019, mobile 07733 22 7896 or email press@rgs.org 

To read press cuttings on this research, click here|

Notes to editors:

1. Paul Cheshire, professor of economic geography at LSE, is available for interview. The paper is given jointly by Professor Cheshire and Professor Stephen Sheppard (Department of Economics, Williams College, USA). The paper is entitled Capitalised in the housing market or how we pay for free schools: the impact of supply constraints and uncertainty and was presented on Thursday, 4 September.

2. Geography Serving Society and the Environment is the theme of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)'s Annual Conference 2003. During the conference approximately 600 papers will be presented by top researchers throughout the international geographical research community. F

3. The Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body representing geography and geographers. It was founded in 1830 and has been one of the most active of the learned societies ever since. It was pivotal in establishing geography as a teaching and research discipline in British universities, and has played a key role in geographical and environmental education ever since. Today the Society is a leading world centre for geographical learning - supporting education, teaching, research and scientific expeditions, as well as promoting public understanding and enjoyment of geography. 

5 September 2003