Kensington’s prime property market driven by top schools

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is widely regarded as one of prime central London’s most coveted residential areas for families, partly due to the area claiming the highest proportion of OFSTED-rated Outstanding schools in the UK at 61.5%.

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Property Reporter
6th October 2022
Kensington 722

Close proximity to some of the best private and state schools in the country also has a marked impact on property values and is a driving force behind the annual cycle of the Kensington market, according to one of the area’s longest-established estate agencies Russell Simpson. Recent figures from the Department of Education reveal that house prices are typically 8-10% higher near the best performing private schools and on average 6-8% higher within the catchment area of the top-ranked state schools.

Bertie Russell, Director at Russell Simpson, says: “There are a lot of aspects to Kensington that make it one of the most attractive areas to live in London, however, the collection of excellent schools is a major draw for families and has an impact on market activity through the year. We regularly receive enquiries for homes close to specific schools, whilst we see a spike at certain points, such as when applications open and placement decisions are made.”

Application dates for state schools in Kensington, such as Fox Primary and St. Mary Abbots CofE primary School, typically close in mid-January, which fuels market enquiries at the beginning of the year, with places announced in April that sparks an Easter flurry. The process for fee-paying schools, including Pembridge Hall, Wetherby-Pembridge and Thomas’s School vary through the year but often see applications open in Spring with places revealed at the end of the Summer term.

Hermione Russell, Sales Negotiator at Russell Simpson, Kensington, added: “The majority of families buying in the area take the long-term view that paying a ‘school premium’ is a good investment, not just for their children’s education but also from a financial point of view for the future. Homes near good schools will often hold their value in a challenging market and tend to sell faster if the market stalls, simply because there will always be demand from other families willing to pay the premium for their children to have access to some of the best educational centres in the world.”

One of Kensington’s most popular and exclusive addresses is Victoria Road, a tree-lined cul-de-sac characterised by a collection of charming early 19th Century stucco-fronted houses and villas and the location of Thomas’s School. Current and prospective residents are attracted by the prestige of being within walking distance of the school, particularly when oversubscribed schools may have admission policies that can favour those living closest.

Another school that has a marked impact on the local market is Fox Primary School, widely considered one of, if not the, best state primary school in the UK. Situated in Hillgate Village, living within catchment of a state-of-the-art school that boasts a Michelin-starred chef providing school meals and typically receives thousands of applications for a limited number of places, is crucial to some families.

Bertie concludes: “Demand for homes close to Fox Primary typically focuses on properties suitable for small families, as well as rentals, with some looking to set temporary roots to get into catchment. Once places are confirmed and if their children are accepted then we start to see those that rented look to buy and the whole cycle resets and begins again.

“Another trend we see is those that live in Chelsea, but opt for a school in Kensington, look to move close by to avoid the commute across the borough. Interestingly, we also receive a lot of interest from U.S. buyers in Notting Hill as they seek to live within easy reach of the American school in St. John’s Wood.”

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