When schools are more important than pools

Stuart Harris, partner and head of residential sales, Carter Jonas Cambridge

Location, location, location is the estate agent’s mantra and while it’s key to any house purchase, those looking for a holiday home have criteria which contrast well with where they want their main residence to be situated.

With school almost out for the summer for the long holiday stretches before our young people but for those in the property market who are parents, school remains top of mind.

In the two Cambridgeshire cities and in our market towns and villages we have some very good state schools and a lively independent sector which is evolving with school federations and new academies coming on-stream.

But still, the right property in the right proximity to a school can command a percentage premium in comparison with an equivalent property not in a catchment area for, or accessible to, a key school.

It’s a premium that is, in the main, across the fee-paying and state education system alike because it is all to do with proximity.

Given good commuter transport links to London – direct trains from our cities and stopping services through market towns, as well as the A1 and M11 road routes in to the capital – for those parents moving into Cambridgeshire out of the capital, the desire to be close to or in the catchment area of a good school is one of the driving factors which initiates the move in the first place.

And what’s more, to complement the good network of schools, this part of the county has a really good residential property stock in terms of variety and, crucially, quality.  There is something for every property preference whether in town or village location.

To state the obvious, being in the catchment area of good schools really does not feature when it comes to searching for a holiday home.  Whereas being in the vicinity of a pool does.

Even for those who do not want a seaside home, a property with a swimming pool comes high on the list of priorities in a way it only does for housebuyers at the top end of the property market here in the UK.

Where there are similarities in the search for the right property at home or abroad is whether it’s town or country.

Generally, people who love living in towns in the UK do opt for holiday home complexes or suburban developments abroad with access to shops, bars and restaurants nearby.

Whereas those who enjoy a rural life in the English countryside, are often seeking the same tranquility of a property in the mountains and hills on the continent.

One feature which is a constant of buying a property at home or abroad for the purposes of school or pool is getting the finances, legal obligations and implications understood at the earliest possible stage.

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