Catchment areas and the moving home process

Property Reporter
20th November 2020

Moving home is rarely straightforward, especially when you're on the hunt for a home in the catchment area of a good school. And although it may seem early, parents will need to make decisions by mid-January about their children’s primary school for 2021.

If you’re thinking of moving to be near a good school or in a different catchment area, you’ll have to move fast and be sure it’s the right decision to find an area that you feel good about calling home.

Choosing a home and a school are two big decisions that are often linked for parents. Luckily, to help out on both, Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Strike, has detailed everything you need to know if you’re considering it, including advice on how to speed the process up.

Don’t get too focused on a single school

Before looking at houses, you’ll need to find the right area. It’s easy to fall in love with one school and move to that catchment area, but just moving to the right area isn’t a guarantee you’ll get a place. Instead, try to find an area that covers a few different schools you like the look of — and where you want to call home. It’s a big decision, after all.

If you’re just starting out your research, websites like Rightmove have made the process easier by adding a list of schools in the area of each property, alongside a link to their Ofsted report where you can find out more. It’s a great starting point, but you can always visit the local school to make sure they feel like the right fit.

Speak to your agent

It’s easy to forget that an estate agent’s job isn’t just showing you around a home — they should be experts in the area. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

They should have a wealth of information about the local facilities, including schools. Don’t be shy — you should use their guidance to your advantage.

Act fast

If you are thinking of moving to a better catchment area before your child starts school, then now is the time to act.

School decisions approach quickly, and for those parents whose children were born between September 2016 and August 2017, you will need to pick your school by 15th January for a September 2021 start.

When you apply to the school you have to use a permanent address, so you must be living in the new area by then. If your children aren’t ready to start school next year, it’s still good to keep the deadlines in mind — they come around sooner than you think. It’s never too early to start planning.

Speeding up the process

If you haven’t even put your property up for sale yet, don’t panic. It’s going to be tight — but you do have options.

You might be in a fortunate position of not needing to sell your current home to put a deposit down on the new one. If that’s the case, it could be worth cracking on with finding a property — especially if you’re trying to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

If you do need to sell first, renting in the new catchment area until you’re able to sell your current home could be another way around it.

For a quick and easy process to selling, go online. Online estate agents like Strike will be able to get your listing online immediately, meaning potential buyers can view it as soon as possible. Especially when lockdown restrictions have meant a lot of the journey has gone digital.

Don’t try to cheat the system

Some people might be tempted to cheat the system to get in at a certain school — moving to a catchment area and then leaving or using a friend’s address on the forms. Don’t do it. You should only move to be closer to schools if you really want to build a new life there. Plus, trying to get around the requirements is actually fraud — and you could be investigated.

If you do run out of time, it could still be worth cracking on with the sale anyway there’s always a chance some parents will turn places down and extra spots can open up.

Plus, if you are thinking of moving regardless of schools, or ahead of the next school intake deadline, moving in the next few months means you’ll be able to make the most of the stamp duty holiday.

Long story short? It pays to plan ahead. So be aware of the deadlines and make sure you’re looking for an area you love — you’ll be calling it home, after all.

Related articles
More from Property
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Commercial Reporter
to our newsletter

Join a community of over 30,000 intermediaries and keep up-to-date with industry news and upcoming events via our newsletter.