PROPERTY prices for homes surrounding Scotland's top state schools are around £100,000 higher than the Scottish average, new research has revealed.
The study by estate agent Savills also suggests that the premium for buying a home in sought-after catchment areas has risen by 26 per cent in the last four years.
It now typically costs £261,966 to buy properties around the best local authority schools in the country - while the average house price is just £165,661.
East Renfrewshire boasts the greatest number of top performing states schools with three with Glasgow City and Dunbartonshire both home to two.
Faisal Choudhry of Savills said: “A huge proportion of our buyers cite children’s education as a key factor in their decisions about where to live and our new research reveals homes near well performing state schools attract a significant premium.
"House prices in areas surrounding Scotland’s top ten performing state secondary schools are 58% above the average for Scotland as a whole.
"The gap between average residential property prices in areas surrounding Scotland’s top ten schools and those in Scotland as a whole has widened significantly.
"However with average day fees being £10,773 and £27,936 for boarders per child, it is little wonder that many parents choose to wear the one-off premium to buy in areas where there is a top performing state secondary.
"The decision is also driven by the fact these hotspots are often also characterised by good communication links and have high quality amenities such as cafes, shops, restaurants and leisure facilities, of which are all of great appeal to growing families."
The study prompted calls for action to tackle inequality in education standards so that parents are not forced to pay large sums to ensure their children get the best opportunities.
Liz Smith, shadow education secretary said: "These figures demonstrate the huge premium that parents are paying to get into a good secondary school.
"It only serves to highlight the need for a Scottish Government which has the ambition to ensure all schools raise their standards, so that a great education is available to all, and not just those who can afford good catchment areas."
Alison Payne, research director of the think tank Reform Scotland which warned two year ago that sending children to private school can cost Scots parents less than buying a house near the best local authority-run schools, also called for action.
“Scottish education remains highly inequitable," she said. "This is not about ‘good schools’ and ‘bad schools’ but about our failure to tackle disadvantage effectively. Until effective action is taken, parents will quite naturally try to buy educational success.”
The Reform Scotland study suggested homes near eight of the top 10 performing schools cost at least 34% more than the local average price.
It said that in some cases it would be more cost effective to pay thousands of pounds for education.
Mr Choudhry said that buyers may need to pay more in the catchment areas of the best state schools, but when it is time to sell, and as long as the school continues to perform well, their home is likely to hold its value well.
He also pointed out that homes in education hotspots were largely cushioned from the price falls of the housing market downturn.
But he also warned that the demand for homes in education hotspots was also impacting on the price of development land resulting in developers paying more and passing the premium on to new homebuyers.
The typical annual private school fees north of the border is now £10,773, up 19 per cent from £9,048 in 2010, according to analysis by Lloyds Bank, which warned that some professionals are forking out a third of their income for each child’s fees. Boarding school fees were up by three percent to stand at £27,936.
Among the most expensive schools is Gordonstoun, in Moray, where Prince Charles was educated, which charges £23,658 a year for standard day fees and £35,160 for boarders.
Fettes in Edinburgh, where Tony Blair studied, cost £31,245 a year for a senior boarding pupil.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There are good schools and good teachers right across Scotland – and we are determined to substantially close the gap between the attainment of young people from Scotland’s least and most deprived areas.
“The Scottish Government is taking action to keep housing more affordable for all. We are investing £3 billion to deliver an additional 50,000 affordable homes of which 70% will be for social rent.
"We have also replaced the UK Stamp Duty with a fairer Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and introduced a housing infrastructure fund to aid unlocking new sites for private development.”