Bilingual primary schools are the talk of the property market

Media release
02 September 2020

An Australian-first study from Deakin Business School has revealed that a bilingual primary school can boost house prices in the school's catchment area by nearly nine per cent.

Lecturers in Property and Real Estate Dr Kang Koo and Dr Jerry Liang tracked house prices in the two years before and after Brunswick South Primary School in Melbourne's inner-north transitioned to become Victoria's first Italian bilingual school in 2017.

They compared this property data to that in catchment areas of nearby schools, other schools with similar academic performance, and 12 other bilingual schools in Melbourne including Camberwell Primary School (French), Footscray Primary School (Vietnamese) and Abbotsford Primary School (Chinese).

Recently published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, the study showed conversion to a bilingual school led to an increase in house prices of 7.8 per cent to 8.7 per cent in the school catchment area.

Dr Koo said that while it is well known that property prices are influenced by school enrolment zones, particularly those for high performing public schools, the role of bilingual schools in property prices is less understood.

"This study adds further weight to the evidence that parents are willing to pay more to access a better education for their children, not just based on results but also on the type of education that’s offered," Dr Koo said.

Dr Koo said the study showed government policy aimed at improving the educational system could lead to unanticipated outcomes in the real estate market.

"The Victorian Government is currently investing money to encourage more schools to adopt bilingual education, and our study shows this investment does have wider benefits than increasing education opportunities alone," he said.

"We show this kind of investment in schools can drive house prices and encourage wealthier families into the area. In the case of Brunswick South Primary School, even those without an Italian background were encouraged to move into the area to enrol in the school.

"In fact, the school found a dramatic increase in applications as it transitioned to a fully bilingual school in 2017, exceeding its intake capacity."

Dr Liang said that as more families re-evaluate the cost of their children's schooling due to the financial impact of COVID-19, a school's status as bilingual may just be the deciding factor in choosing a place to live.

"The majority of bilingual schools are outperforming other public schools, with some, like Camberwell Primary School, consistently listed among the top schools in the state," he said.

"For many parents, the advantages of a bilingual education – improving memory, strengthening problem-solving skills and enhancing creativity – provide an overall positive education experience that's worth moving house for."

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James O'Loan
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