English parents are willing to pay more than £26,000 to buy a home in the catchment area of top the state schools, according to research by Santander Mortgages.

House prices close to the top 100 state secondary schools in England carry a 42 percent premium compared to surrounding areas. And to ensure their child gets a coveted place in the best the state can offer education-wise, a fifth (20 percent) of families have had to downsize to secure a property in that catchment area.

Almost a quarter (24 percent) say they’ve had to work longer hours to finance their move while the same percentage are now forking out much more on commuting costs because they moved further away for a better school.

Game the system to gain a place

According to Santander, properties in the catchment area for England’s top 1,000 state primary schools also carry a price premium, albeit much smaller at 8 percent above the surrounding area.

On average, parents would pay an extra £26,860 to buy a house that guarantees a spot for their children at a top state school.

And as well as being willing to fork out a substantial extra amount for a home, parents also admitted the lengths they are willing to go to for their children’s education.

The Santander research reveals how they game the system by moving their child into the home of a friend or relative already living in the school catchment area or register their child at a property when they don’t live there.

Sacrifice a lot for children

Miguel Sard, managing director of mortgages at Santander UK, said: “Living in the vicinity of a top-ranked school carries a significant house price premium. If families are looking to move into a catchment area specifically to boost their chances of getting into an elite school, they can expect to pay a hefty price.

“It is important when considering purchasing a property that people understand the true costs as the house price is just one of many. Stamp duty, solicitors’ fees and moving costs mount up.

“Parents are prepared to sacrifice a lot to give their child the best start in life.”