An agent from a housing agency walks in front of a school-district with a price board in his hands. (Photo: Li Hao/GT)
Mark Gao, a white-collar worker in his 40s in Beijing, paid more than 5 million yuan (5,437) several months ago for a house near the primary school affiliated to Renmin University of China in Haidian district, an elite primary school in Beijing, so that his 3-year-old daughter would be eligible to enroll there and get a better education. “Although it is an old house, it has exceeded 100,000 yuan per square meter,” he said.
The reason why the house is so expensive is that it is a “school-district house,” which is a house that is located within the admitting range of primary or secondary schools and ensures a place in schools within the respective regions for the owner's children.
Similar to Gao, many parents believe that key schools, with better teachers and more funding, are extremely important for their kids to gain access to renowned universities and have a bright future, so they are so keen to buy the nearby houses and do not hesitate to invest huge amounts of money.
Li Wenqiang, a 25-year-old data analyst of a Beijing-based real estate agency, noticed that a main reason that the average price of the houses in Xicheng district and Haidian district can be around 10,000 yuan higher per square meter compared to houses in Dongcheng district and Chaoyang district is that there are more key schools in the former two districts.
According to the statistics from Lianjia, a real estate agency, in February, the average price of some houses near Taoranting in Xicheng district, where several key schools are located, increased by more than two percent compared with last month and reached as high as 134,837 yuan per square meter.
School district housing is not only popular in China, but also in other countries, like the UK and the U.S.
An article from bbc.com on March 20 noted that a location near a key school could directly lead to a higher housing price and the price of the houses near the top 10 percent of the primary schools in London was almost 342,884 yuan higher than the average price, citing a report from the Department for Education.
Linda Qi, a sales manager in her late 30s, has been planning to buy a school-district house in London since her son was born two years ago. Graduating from a university in the UK, she has a belief in the quality of education in the country and hopes that her child can go to a British school.
She has been carefully searching for information on various real estate websites over the past year. “After I choose the districts and the house type I prefer, the websites would list the suitable houses while showing their nearby schools and their rankings,” she said.
Penny Liu, a mother of two in her early 40s, recently bought a house near a good school in the New York City borough of Queens in the US. “It cost nearly a million more than a regular house,” she said.
She thought about renting a house nearby, but it was not cheap either. The rent for a two-bedroom apartment could cost more than 20,000 yuan per month, so she finally decided to buy one.
However, she believed that the extra money she paid for a school-district house was well spent, because it could help increase the probability for her children to get into a famous university in the future.
According to an article on February 28 from the Xinhua News Agency, in the New York City borough of Queens, a school district house could be twice as expensive and 20 percent to 30 percent more expensive than other houses in the borough of Manhattan.
However, it noted that the price of the houses near key schools could hardly be sky-high, because most buyers pay attention to a range of factors when buying houses, such as medical treatment, community services and public transportation, rather than simply the choice of schools.
Qi also talked with some friends of hers who have already bought a house near a key school. “We share similar thoughts and that is to get our children the best education, no matter how much we need to spend,” she said.