Renting may be better option when aiming for a school

Parents looking for a home near a school of their choice so that their children may stand a better chance of acceptance need not buy in the neighbourhood as it may sometimes be better to rent the property.

By the end of this month, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will complete this year’s Primary One Registration Exercise. If you are a parent, where you live could affect your child’s chances of admission. If the number of applications to a primary school exceeds the number of vacancies, the school fills the available spots based on home-school distance in order of the following priority: (1) Within 1km; (2) between 1km and 2km; and (3) more than 2km.

In a previous commentary, I reported on the price per square foot (psf) of private apartments in the neighbourhoods within 2km of Singapore’s 190 primary schools.

The median psf ranges from about S$700 to S$1,824.

For a 1,000sqf home near River Valley Primary School, the median price is more than S$1.8 million. Radin Mas Primary School, one of the country’s most popular schools based on take-up rates, is in a neighbourhood that has a median price of more than S$1.5 million.

What if it does not make sense to buy in the neighbourhood of the primary school of choice? Some parents have benefited from renting instead. For homes in the neighbourhoods of all 190 primary schools, the median psf rentals range from S$2.17 to S$5.08, or a monthly rent of S$2,170 to S$5,080 for a 1,000sqf unit.

For a young family, it might be financially more viable to rent. For example, the median price of a four-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat in Bishan in June was S$518,000, SRX data shows. This is about one-third the price of a private home near Radin Mas Primary, which is in District 4.

The family can rent out the HDB flat for the median Bishan rent of S$2,500 and then rent a 1,000sqf private apartment near the popular primary school for S$4,630. The “property cost” to send the child to the school is the difference in the two rents or S$2,130 per month.

Naturally, the more children you have, the lower the cost per child.

SRX has posted the neighbourhood median rents and home prices for all 190 primary schools on http://srx.com.sg/research. A quick perusal of the tables will help you decide whether it is better to buy or rent. In my next column, I will look at home prices and rents around international schools.

By Sam Baker – co-founder of SRX, an information exchange formed by leading real estate agencies in Singapore to disseminate market pricing information and facilitate property transactions.

Source : Today – 8 Aug 2014

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