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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.


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.


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.


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,...

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 ...

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...

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...

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...

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:


Atlanta Skyline Building Guide

We've received a number of complements on our recent website makeover, and we're flattered to hear that it's been so well received. A number of you have asked about the stylized skyline outline in the website header, and whether it really represents Atlanta. It does, in fact, and it was inspired by the photo below. This spawned questions about this building and that, which got us thinking - maybe we should put together a guide to the buildings of the Atlanta skyline. So here goes!

Bank of America Plaza AT&T Midtown Center 2 Peachtree Street 1180 Peachtree 1100 Peachtree Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta Promenade II...

Atlanta Lingo - How to Speak Like a Local

New to Atlanta?  Don't seems like almost everyone in Atlanta is from somewhere else!  This diversity of backgrounds is one of the things that makes Atlanta great.  If you don't want everyone to know you're new in town, you may want to familiarize yourself with some of the terms below.

Midtown Atlanta

Traffic Terms:

Brookwood Split: Where I-75 and I-85 split heading northbound, in the vicinity of the neighborhoods of Brookwood and Brookwood Hills, forming the south boundary of Buckhead.

Cobb Cloverleaf: Intersection of I-75 and I-285 on the northwest side of town, in Cobb County.

Downtown Connector: The section of highway where I-75 and I-85 join as one and pass through downtown.  Often shortened to simply, "The Connector."

East Freeway: Another name for I-20 from downtown through the east side of metro Atlanta.

Financial Center Tunnel: Section of Georgia 400 that passes under the Atlanta Financial Center, in Buckhead.

Freedom Parkway: Parkway running from the Downtown Connector to Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Friday 500: A reference to Friday's worse-than-usual evening rush hour which seems resemble a NASCAR race.

Grady Curve: Giant curve in the Downtown Connector, near Grady Hospital, tends to slow traffic when heavy.

Inner Loop: The inside lanes of I-285, heading...

Virginia-Highland Summerfest this weekend

Well, we've had a fun bunch of festivals this spring, and now the Spring Festivals are over.  But don't despair,  now it's time to celebrate the beginning of summer at this weekend's Virginia-Highland Summerfest!  This is one of Intown Atlanta's best festivals, and includes a little something for everyone.

Virginia-Highland There will be the usual juried artist market featuring works from over 200 artists in various media, as well as lots of live music. Runners can enter a 5K race on Saturday morning, after which parents can bring their 5-and-under kids to the "Tot Trot" at the Inman Middle School field.

The festival is held on Virginia Avenue between North Highland Avenue and Park Drive in the popular Virginia-Highland neighborhood of Intown Atlanta. Admission is free and open to the public for the events on Saturday and Sunday, but there are some festivities on Friday that are reserved exclusively for Virginia-Highland residents.  These include a quirky parade (6:30pm) where residents dress up as their favorite movie character, followed by a dinner and an outdoor movie (8:30pm).

Another great attraction is the Neighborhood Acoustic Street Party at "Virginia-Highland Island" (Virginia Ave & N.Highland Ave) on Friday (8 to 11pm) and Saturday, June 5 (9 to 11pm).  For a break-down of all the events and activities, click here.

Be safe and have fun!


Another Four Intown Atlanta Festivals this weekend

The Spring Festival season is not over yet, with more coming this weekend.  Several Intown Atlanta neighborhoods are holding events this weekend, including Brookhaven, Downtown, Kirkwood and Virginia-Highland.

The event in Brookhaven this weekend is not a festival per-se, but a 5k run/walk/stroll through beautiful Ashford Park.  Dubbed the Brookhaven Bolt, the $20 entry fee gets you a commemorative T-Shirt, and the proceeds go to help the Ashfor Park Elementary School.  Also part of the event is the Kids Fun Run, a 1/2 mile run/walk for children 13 and under.

Downtown Atlanta hosts the Georgia Kite Festival in Centennial Olympic Park.  In addition to the attraction of a myriad of fun kite designs flying over the park, there is also a Sound Stage with performances by musicians of various genres.  The free festival also features is The Kidz Zone, where kids 3 to 12 can enjoy face painting, clowns, kite coloring and other games, and The Kite Construction Corner where children and adults can learn...

More festivals this weekend

There are more festivals in Intown Atlanta this weekend. Today and tomorrow is the Sweet Auburn Springfest celebrating this historic district in Downtown Atlanta. In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, successful African-American-owned businesses and entertainment venues thrived on Auburn Avenue.

The festival is produced to support the business development, branding and marketing of the district. Major projects are envisioned, including transforming the Auburn Avenue viaduct into an outdoor international music café and arts and craft market, and establishing Auburn Avenue as the Beale Street / Bourbon Street / Church Street Station of Atlanta.

Festival attendees can enjoy several attractions including an Artist Market, Business and Technology Expo, a Health and Fitness Fair, an Active Senior's Pavilion, Sports Carnival, a Literary Marketplace, Just For Women’s EXPO and the Kids Fantastic Fun Zone. Live music performances will be held on eight different stages.

Another celebration of a different historic district is the Atlanta West Fest, in the West End. Attractions include a benefit concert at the Wren's Nest, a festival in Gordon-White park, and West Fest's first annual dog parade. For those of us with real estate on our minds, there is a tour of 10 historic homes, many of which are over 100 years old.

Tonight and tomorrow night are the last nights to catch Georgia Shakespeare's popular "Shake at the Lake". "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be presented overlooking Lake Clara Meer in Piedmont Park in Midtown.

The performance is free, but you'll need tickets (well, actually wristbands). Around 900 wristbandswill be available...

Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes

Well, we had a blast at last weekend's festivals, but there are still more to come.  This weekend brings us the Inman Park Festival.  A preview of the Inman Park Tour of Homes begins on Friday, while the festival proper is Saturday and Sunday.

Inman Park neighborhood in Intown Atlanta Inman Park neighborhood in Intown Atlanta As in year's past, there will be live bands and entertainment under the tent on Euclid Avenue, in Delta Park and Poplar Circle.  Other popular attractions include the Dance Festival in the Trolley Barn as well as the Arts & Crafts Show / Street Market in various booths along the streets of Inman Park.  

But the biggest draw of them all must be the parade, featuring a notorious selection of Atlanta’s craziest groups, including the the "Trash Monarch" and "Inman Park Precision Attaché Drill Team." After whetting your appetite on the Tour of Homes, be sure to come back and visit our Inman Park neighborhood page to see all the Inman Park homes for sale.  Hope to see you there!


Intown Atlanta Spring Festivals

Well, what seemed like Atlanta's worst winter in over 20 years is over, and spring has finally sprung.  That means, among other things, that spring festivals are just around the corner in many Intown Atlanta neighborhoods.  The first four major events kick off this weekend.

The biggest event this weekend is the popular Atlanta Dogwood Festival.  Held at Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta, this annual celebration of the blooming of the Dogwood trees has been a perennial favorite in Atlanta for over 70 years.  In the 1970s an art show was introduced to the festival, and the juried Fine Art Market has played a big part in the festival ever since.   The 1980s saw the tradition of live music begin at the Dogwood Festival, and this year is no exception with well over a dozen acts playing this weekend.

Another fun even this weekend is the 6th annual Sweetwater 420 Festival, a two-day music and arts festival.  It's free to attend and enjoy live music and activities, and $5 gets you a wrist band that allows you to buy all the wine and Sweetwater beer you can "responsibly enjoy."  A portion of the proceeds go to back to the Candler Park neighborhood which hosts the event.  A big part of the event is "Planet 420", which sponsors local, regional and national non-profits and environmental organizations.  Exhibits and forums will be presented including diesel to grease demonstrations, sustainable living forums, solar...

The streets of Atlanta and their special annoyances

House hunting can be fun and exciting, but it can also be frustrating at times, especially if you're in a strange new city. We love Atlanta, but if you're new to town, you'll have some special annoyances to get used to as you drive around the various Intown Atlanta neighborhoods shopping for homes.

Getting to know Atlanta can be difficult to the newcomer for a number of reasons. One of the first things you'll notice is that it's very common for the street that you're driving on to change names without notice. There are examples of this all over Atlanta; Monroe becomes Boulevard, Briarcliff becomes Moreland and E. Rock Springs becomes N. Decatur.

It can get even more confusing. In Midtown, Spring Street is one-way southbound, but in Downtown, Spring Street is one-way northbound! Don't worry, you don't have people crashing into each other, because Spring Street in Midtown isn't even the same street as Spring Street in Downtown. The southbound Spring Street in Midtown becomes Centennial Olympic Park Drive in Downtown. The northbound Spring Street in Downtown turns into West Peachtree in Midtown.

That segues nicely into our next pet-peeve: multiple roads with variations of the same name. And "Peachtree" is the most common example. According to Wikipedia, there are 71 streets in Atlanta with some version of "Peachtree" in their name. There's Peachtree Street, West Peachtree Street, Peachtree Road, Peachtree Drive, Peachtree Park Drive, Peachtree Circle, Peachtree Lane, Peachtree Walk, Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, and ... we'll, you get the idea. Peachtree is guilty of the previous annoyance too, in that...