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Intown Atlanta Real Estate Blog

School ratings on IntownElite.com

Finding objective information about the quality of public schools is not always easy. There are a number of independent websites which rate public schools, but they often give contradictory information. So to get a full picture, you end up having to visit multiple school review sites to determine a consensus of the ratings they provide for each school. Isn't there an easier way? There is now!

On our Atlanta School Guide page, we have consolidated the ratings for each public school in our market area from three different independant rating sites, GreatSchools, Niche K-12, and SchoolDigger. Each school page also shows all the homes for sale in the attendance zone for that school. Below is an explanation of each of these ratings, as explained by their respective providers.

Overall Niche Grade

Niche GradeGrades are assigned based on how each school or district performs compared to all other schools included in the ranking by using the following distribution of grades and z-scores. While most rankings generally follow this normal distribution, there are slight variances across each ranking, so the actual counts and distribution may vary. Learn more.

GreatSchools Rating

GreatSchools ratingThe GreatSchools Rating is a simple tool that helps you compare schools based on test scores and other available data, including student academic growth and college readiness....

Even Atlanta's most exclusive zip code, 30327, has affordable options

A recent article in Curbed describes describes 30327 as "the Most Expensive, Exclusive Zip Code of Atlanta." The story includes the typical descriptions, "Beverly Hills of the South," "Georgia's most expensive zip code" and factoids such as it being the second wealthiest zip code in the South behind Palm Beach's 33480.

Yes, it's true when Forbes reports the median home price in 30327 is about 1.5M, but is it really "exclusive?"

Exclusive adjective
  1. excluding or not admitting other things
  2. restricted to the person group or area concerned
  3. catering or available to only a few, select people; high class and expensive

30327 The truth is, unlike other other high-priced areas around the country; 30327 actually has affordable housing options, too.  For example, right now there are 2-bedroom, 2-bath condos listed for sale from $135,000. So, for a very reasonable price, one can live in the same "exclusive" zip code as multi-millionaires, and have access to the same highly sought-after public schools in Buckhead. Many of these affordable condos are in Cross Creek, which is a gated community complete with with an 18-hole golf course, three swimming pools and tennis courts. It also has a clubhouse with a health club, restaurant and lounge with both indoor and covered outdoor deck seating, which overlooks the pond...

Reduce your Atlanta commute, improve your life

As if you needed another reason to move from the 'burbs to Intown Atlanta, you can add to the list growing evidence that your commute is killing you. If you live in the suburbs of Atlanta and work in the city, you know how miserable the commute can be. But are you fully aware of the very real effects of that commute on your overall health and happiness? Long commutes can contribute to obesity, neck pain, stress, insomnia, even loneliness and divorce. If you don't have time to read the full article, this infographic sums it up nicely:

commute For more interesting reading, visit the source of the infographic, which discusses how some government housing policies can be a major contributor to wealth inequality.

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Atlanta a top market to invest in residential real estate

Photo Courtesy of Laura Miller Photo Courtesy of Laura Miller A recent report shows Atlanta to be one of the top markets in the country to invest in a home. Ingo Winzer, president and founder of Local Market Monitor, said in a statement released by the company, "These markets also have strong home price appreciation, but are still underpriced by as much as 28 percent." Of course, if you're looking in highly-sought-after Intown Atlanta neighborhoods or Buckhead, you may have a more difficult time finding a deal. These areas have already rebounded in price due to strong demand. By contrast, some of the suburbs are still playing catch up, but the trend is positive.

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Atlanta real estate Sold prices

What price did that listing end up selling for? Now you can find out on IntownElite.com

Ever wonder what that house down the street sold for? You know what the list (asking) price was when it went under contract, but what was the final sale number? Previously, our local MLSs, who provide the listings on our site, wouldn't allow agents or brokers to display sold listings or their prices. There were some national portal sites which would show sold prices, but they got their data from public records, which were several months behind, and had some issues with accuracy.

That all changed with a recent decision by the National Association of REALTORs®. NAR changed their IDX policy to recommend that MLS's make sold listings and their prices available for agents and brokers to display on their websites. (IDX, or Internet Data eXchange, is the system by which agents and brokers share their listings on each others websites.) Although neither of our local MLSs are governed by the NAR, they both have decided to allow sold listings to be displayed on our websites for properties that have sold within the last 3 years. GAMLS was the first to go forward with this, and their sold listings can already be seen on our site. FMLS followed along later, and those sold listings should be available shortly.

Since our data comes directly from the MLS you can be assured that it will be both timely and accurate. MLS rules require agents update the system within 3 days of closing, so the sale price will be available on our site quickly, sometimes even the day of closing. Also, all of the listing photos remain available, so you can get an idea of the condition of the property. This is yet another reason why our site is superiorto the national portals, which typically don't...

Our site now includes GAMLS listings, in addition to FMLS

You probably know tGAMLShat an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is a system that agents use to market their listings to other agents. Through something called IDX (Internet Data eXchange), agents can display all of the homes listed in the MLS on our websites, so you as a homebuyer can participate in your own home search. You may or may not be aware, but we have two MLS's in the metro Atlanta area, First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS) and Georgia Multiple Listing Service (GAMLS). Most Intown Atlanta agents use FMLS as our primary MLS. Everything in our geographical market niche is in the FMLS "mandatory" area, meaning agents who list properties in Intown Atlanta are supposed to enter their listings into FMLS. So, our website has always pulled listings from FMLS, since that should capture all of the homes and condos listed for sale in Intown Atlanta. But sometimes I see Intown Atlanta homes listed in GAMLS and not FMLS. In theory, that shouldn't happen, but in reality, sometimes it does. Often it's when agent from the south suburbs (where GAMLS is more prominent) comes into Atlanta and lists a property. It's also common with REO (bank-owned foreclosures), and either their agents don't know this is an FMLS mandatory area, or they're actually not members of FMLS.

Either way, we want IntownElite.com to be your go-to site for Intown Atlanta real estate, so we need to make sure our site has all of the listings. So, we added GAMLS to our IDX feed, meaning we have all listings from both local MLS systems, so you don't miss any listings. It's one of the things that makes IntownElite.com better than the big national...

Why IntownElite.com beats Zillow, Trulia, et. al.

When it comes to websites, bigger does not always mean better. That's certainly the case with real estate websites. I think most would agree that, aside for ease-of use, the most important aspect of real estate websites is the accuracy of its data. You want to see all the listings available for sale, and no "stale" listings that are no longer on the market. Nothing is more frustrating to a home buyer than either missing out on available listings, or finding out that awesome listing you're looking at actually sold 2 months ago. Unfortunately, those scenarios are all too common on Zillow, Trulia and similar sites. Meanwhile our website does not suffer the same problems, as I'll explain below.

First I'll explain the classification of real estate websites. Zillow, Trulia and similar sites are considered "aggregators" or "portals." They get their listings via an amalgam of sources, including various listing syndication services, manual entry by agents or home owners. Not every agent sends their listings to them, and there is no regulatory authority presiding over them to ensure timeliness or accuracy. By contrast, IntownElite.com is a brokerage site. As a licensed real estate brokerage, we are members of the local MLS service. As such, we get a direct feed of listings from the MLS, including listings of all other local brokerages (not just our own listings), through an arrangement called IDX, or Internet Data Exchange. This listing feed is updated in nearly real-time, at least every 15 minutes. So, when a new listing goes active in the MLS, it's on our site within minutes. Similarly, when a listing is marked "Contingent" or "Pending" (meaning under contract) or "Sold" in the MLS, that listing is indicated thusly on our website within minutes. And finally, when the listing expires, it is removed from our website within minutes. pending...

Another report praises Atlanta's walkable urban development

Atlanta Midtown, one of Atlanta's most walkable neighborhoods. As we reported in a previous blog post, Atlanta is getting a lot of attention lately for the rising amount of "walkable urban development" that's underway in the city. Now, another report from the George Washington University School of Business ranks Atlanta number 8 in the nation in this category currently, with a projected future rank of #5. We think the report validates what we've been saying for years, that Intown Atlanta real estate is a better bet than suburban real estate. The report states,

...the residential housing market has already shifted; the highest-priced zip codes are the close-in neighborhoods directly adjacent to downtown, many of which were low-income areas 20 years ago. It used to be that the up-and-coming neighborhoods were located outside Interstate 285, also known as the Perimeter; today these neighborhoods are located inside the Perimeter.

        To read the full report click here.      

Photo credit downeym on Flickr. CC license.

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Intown trend spells the end of sprawl in Atlanta

Could it be that, along with the increasingly popular trend of living "intown," now sprawl in Atlanta has ended?  That's the conclusion of a report from the School of Business at George Washington University. Report author Christopher Leinberger, a professor of urban real estate and chair of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University told USA Today, "Atlanta has reached peak sprawl. This is the end of that trend."

Walkable intown communities are preferred by young professionals and by high-tech businesses over automobile-dependent suburban neighborhoods. As we've mentioned previously, neighborhoods near downtown Atlanta have seen a 61 percent surge in young professional residents who have at least a four-year degree since 2000. These kind of communities, which comprise less than 1% of the Atlanta region's land area, accounted for 60% of the growth in income-generating real estate (offices, retail spaces, rental apartments and hotels) over the past four years, Leinberger said. This trend has steadily and rapidly increased in each of the last three real estate market cycles. Further, real estate products in established walkable intown communities command rents that are 112% higher than those in drivable suburban areas.

Of course, this doesn't mean that all of the sprawl that has occurred over the last several decades will somehow magically vanish. A drive from Lake Lanier to the airport during a Friday-500 rush-hour will remain an experience you'll want to avoid at all costs, if you wish to retain your sanity. So that won't change, but...

In real estate, experience matters

How much does experience matter when selling your home? According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, about 12% of the price of your home. In other words, experienced agents sell homes for an average of 12% more than rookie agents. The figure is based on a study by Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. A "rookie" was defined as an agent with less than 2 years experience.  From the article: HomeValues"The more experience you have, the more likely you are to sell the properties that you list, the more likely you are to sell it at a higher price and the less time it stays on the market," Prof. Waller says. Prof. Waller became interested in quantifying experience when he noticed an increasing number of agents who chose not to renew their licenses after two years. Real estate has "very, very, very low barriers to entry," he says. But brokers then face a steep learning curve and many struggle to reach a level of expertise that is profitable, he adds. Two-thirds of properties listed by veteran agents sold, while only half of properties listed by rookies did. That 12% works out to about $25,000 for an average home.  If your home value is above average, obviously that 12% can amount to much more money. Unless that amount of money doesn't matter to you, then it would certainly behoove you to consider your real estate agent's experience when selling your home. If you're considering selling, have an experienced agent complete an Comparative Market Analysis to determine how much your home is worth by clicking...

Will the Internet eliminate real estate agents?

The rapid advancement of technology has impacted nearly every facet of our lives. As every child of the 80's knows, video killed the radio star. The music industry has seen much disruption since that song was released in 1979, from MTV to Napster to the iPod and now streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, the industry will never be the same. The internet has caused similar disruption in the travel and financial services industries, allowing consumers to shop and purchase travel tickets and securities without travel agents and stock brokers. So why hasn't the internet caused similar disruption in the residential real estate industry?

BrowserWell, it's not for lack of trying. Many companies have started with that intention, only to find that it's more difficult than they expected. Two of the largest companies that could be considered to be in that category are Trulia and Zillow. Many thought they would derail the traditional real estate agent - client relationship. Perhaps they themselves thought that at the early stages of their companies. If buyers and sellers simply had free access to information, they wouldn't need agents, would they? Well, it appears that in real estate, access to information is not the panacea that some may have thought. Zillow now compares itself to WebMD. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff recently said;

“You have as much information sometimes as the doctor, but you are still seeing the doctor because they are the expert.”


Now it's clear that, far from eliminating agents, their primary business is actually selling advertising and other services to real...

Crime in Atlanta - Perception versus Reality

When speaking to people who live OTP, I often find that their perception of living intown is markedly different than the reality that I experience every day. Three of the most common misperceptions I hear about are the crime, traffic and schools -  they're all worse than the 'burbs, right?  Well, I've covered the topic of schools before, so in this article I'll tackle crime, and we'll save traffic for a later article. Often times people who grew up in the metro Atlanta area have their opinions forged over decades past. There is a tendency, as we get older, to have nostalgia for the "good ol' days" of our youth, and think that everything is going downhill now. However, what many may not realize is that, in reality, things have dramatically improved over the last couple of decades.

Police car at Atlanta Underground

Let's speak for a moment on a macro scale. Because of the 24-hour news cycle and the tendency to sensationalize bad news, many people think we are living in an era of declining morals and increasing violence and crime. In actuality, that's not the case. Stephen Pinker makes the case in his book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," that we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. You might say, "Interesting book, but I bet the statistics say otherwise." Actually, no, statistics confirm that ...

Atlanta homes are selling fast

If you're involved in the Atlanta residential real estate market in any capacity, buyer, seller, agent or other, you've noticed that something has changed over the last year. The market has shifted significantly. Homes are selling fast, and I mean crazy-fast.  What's "crazy-fast?"  Days.  Sometimes just one day.  Sometimes not even a day. Often with multiple offers.  I've experienced faster than expected sales recently on both sides of the transaction, on my own listings and when representing buyers.  And from speaking with other agents around time, I'm not alone.  "Sure," you might say, "that's anecdotal evidence, but is it really true for the Atlanta market as a whole?"  I looked at the numbers and here's what I found.

I checked the FMLS records over the last 3 years to see how many homes sold each year in various days-on-market brackets. For the purposes of this blog post, I'm just using single-family homes sold in the city of Atlanta. Below are the numbers:

Homes sold in 14 days or less in Atlanta:

  • 2010: 919

  • 2011: 922

  • 2012: 1453

 Homes sold in 7 days or less in Atlanta:

  • 2010: 399

  • 2011: 406

  • 2012: 691

Homes sold in 3 days or less in Atlanta:

  • 2010: 127

  • 2011: 137

  • 2012: 269

Homes sold in 1 day or less in Atlanta:

  • 2010: 49

  • 2011: 65

  • 2012: 103

Inventory of homes for sale in Atlanta, GA April 2013  As you...

Murphey Candler Park - Featured Atlanta Park

Today's featured Atlanta park is Murphey Candler Park. This is a 135-acre public park located in the neighborhood (soon to be its own city) of Brookhaven. Not to be confused with Candler Park (sans Murphey), which is an Intown Atlanta neighborhood and a park of the same name. Murphey Candler, for whom the park was named, was a state Representative and Senator, who's son was DeKalb County commissioner. The park is owned and operated by DeKalb County Parks and Recreation, and was opened in 1954. Murphey Candler Park is home to many youth sports programs, including baseball, softball, football and swimming. In addition to the sporting amenities, the park also has a playground, picnic areas, walking trails and a lake. Murphey Candler ParkMurphey Candler Park lakeMurphey Candler Park fields...

Tanyard Creek Park - Featured Atlanta Park

Atlanta has a unique feel compared to similar sized cities owing much to its ample tree canopy and collection of parks. It has earned the nickname of  "the city in the forest"  based on the fact that its tree coverage is the highest of all major US cities. Atlanta also has 343 parks, gardens, nature preserves and public greenspaces, totaling 3,622 acres. This blog post is the first in a series that will profile the various parks and greenspaces around Intown Atlanta and Buckhead. Today's featured space is Tanyard Creek Park

Tanyard Creek Park is located in the southern portion of Buckhead, between the neighborhoods of Collier Hills and Ardmore Park. Tanyard Creek Park  has a little bit of something for everyone. There is a paved path that runs the length of the park from north to south, which is part of the Atlanta Beltline project. This path is stroller-friendly and suitable for running and biking as well. On the east side of this path is a huge, open grassy area. Here you'll often see groups of people playing frisbee or tossing a football around. This area has become sort of an unofficial off-leash dog park, though technically Atlanta's leash law applies, so use your discretion. On the west side of the path is a large playground area with swings, slides and other play equipment. The northern end of the path runs up to southern extremity of Bobby Jones Golf Course....

Lower your Atlanta Water Bill by getting new toilets ... For Free!

Atlanta has frequently made news, in both the local and national press, about it's sky-high water bills. Though many residents were faced with inaccurate bills, even accurate bills are high, as Atlanta's water rates themselves are among the highest in the country. Why? The water rates have mushroomed in recent years in order to help pay for the Clean Water Atlanta Program, a $4 billion federally mandated overhaul of the City’s aging and deteriorated sewer systems. So what can an Atlantan do to conserve water (and therefore money)?

Money down the drain Your old toilet is flushing money down the drain. Photo credit: Images_of_Money on Flickr. CC License One of the biggest water wasters in the home is the toilet.  This is especially true in the older homes in Buckhead and Intown Atlanta neighborhoods. Depending on the vintage, and older toilet can use 3 to 8 times more water than newer low-flow toilets. Of course, regardless of the money, using less water is the right thing to do, and is an important step if you want to have a green home. But I'm sure there are some number crunchers out there who are asking where the break-even point is on the expense of replacing your...

Intown Atlanta and Buckhead schools to be rezoned

As mentioned in a previous blog post, Atlanta has some fine public schools. But, like most other cities, there are also those that are underperforming. This has a predictable effect on people's behavior, both in terms of real estate as well as the attendance of the schools. Home buyers are attracted to the Intown Atlanta and Buckhead neighborhoods that have the best schools in Atlanta. This bolsters home values in those neighborhoods, but also leads to overcrowding in those schools. This overcrowding is exacerbated by the 61% surge of young professionals living in Intown Atlanta. In decades past, most young couples would move to the 'burbs when they settled down. Now many of them are staying intown. Meanwhile, other schools end up under capacity. Simple solution; just move kids from the overcrowded schools to those that are under capacity, right? Not so fast.

A portion of one of the proposed options The Atlanta Public Schools district is in the early stages of studying how to remedy this situation. The demographers have come up with 4 options on how to ...

New Home Search features

We keep adding new and improved home search features here on IntownElite.com, and the latest additions are pretty slick! You may have noticed these already, but I hadn't blogged about them yet. One is the "autocomplete" location search box. This box can accept almost any type of location information, such as Cities, Zip Codes, Neighborhoods, Condo names, etc.  But now it can also accept addresses, MLS numbers and Schools. It works somewhat like Google's Instant Search,  just start typing and it starts figuring out what you're looking for. You'll see that autocomplete search box on our home page, in the right sidebar of pages that have one, and in the left sidebar of our home search.  

Below that search box is where you set your search preferences. The neat improvement here, is that as soon as you start entering in your criteria, the results to the right immediately starts displaying the listings that match those specifications. You can select price, bedrooms, baths, etc., and instantly the listings displayed on the right will automagically refine to display only those listings, and the green "Properties Found" keeps a running count of how many listings that meet those preferences.  Once you've set your preferences, you can mouse over property icons on the map, or see the listings displayed in a list or gallery format. Well, we think it's pretty cool, and we hope you will too. Bottom line, it empowers you to help you find a home that's perfect for you. Click here to try it out! Now, if you prefer not to do all the hunting yourself, we're here to help. Feel free to contact us and we can set up a custom search just for you.

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Good Public Schools in Atlanta? Yes!

Now that we have a kid on the way, we sometimes hear some of our our suburban friends say, "Well, now you have to move OTP!" We actually had one friend-of-a-friend stridently exclaim, "You can't raise kids in the city!" (Gasp!) Oh really? Why's that? Of course everyone has their biases, but putting those aside, the subject that often seems to come up is schools. Some of the more "open minded" suburbanites would concede that it might be OK to raise kids in the city, but one would have to send their kids to private school. But is this true? Are there really no good public schools in the city of Atlanta?

The recent, well-publicized APS cheating scandal did much damage to the image of Atlanta Public Schools. But let's not throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. There are still several excellent public schools in Atlanta. For the most part, the schools which were implicated in cheating to improve their test scores, still had poor test scores overall! By contrast, the highly-rated schools that were not involved in the cheating scandal continue to post high test scores. Below is a list if highly-rated public schools inside Atlanta's perimeter.  Click on the school name for info & test scores.  To see school ratings and search homes by school district / attendance zone, vist our Atlanta School Guide.

In the Atlanta Public School district:

Elementary:

Yet another reason why neighborhoods matter

Of course we all know that neighborhoods are important for many reasons; friendly neighbors, community support, etc. And we all know there are many reasons to choose a particular neighborhood; location, style, affordability, etc. However, from the perspective of your wallet, there's another important benefit the right neighborhood can provide; price stability.

A recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University showed that higher-priced homes are less susceptible to bubbles than are lower-priced homes. Higher-priced homes don't appreciate as quickly in a run-up, but neither do they fall as quickly in a downturn. According to analysis of Standand & Poor's / Case-Shiller home price data, prices of lower end homes in Atlanta fell by nearly 50% from the 2007 peak to December 2010. The drop for higher-end homes fell by less than half that percentage. Of course, this is a macro look at the entire Atlanta metro area, in which "low tier" homes were qualified as those under about $122k and "high tier" homes were those above approximately $221k. You might extrapolate from this data that even higher-tier homes in desirable neighborhoods may have lost even less value since the 2007 peak. You'd be right. A quick check of the sought-after Intown Atlanta neighborhood of Morningside shows an average sale price of $668,952 in 2007. The average sale price in 2010 was $582,339, a 12.9% decrease from the peak. That's certainly a lot better than the national average. Checking the Buckhead neighborhood of ...