Sope Creek Blog

Connecting You to East Cobb

Zestifail – Dissecting the Zillow Zestimate

March 23rd, 2017

As a Realtor, I take great pride in my ability to accurately determine the value of a listing (in 2016, our listings sold for an average of 99.0% of their Original List Price), Zestimates are the bane of my existence.  According to Zillow, “The Zestimate® home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimate is calculated from public and user-submitted data, taking into account special features, location, and market conditions.”

The problem for Realtors is that the public often anchors their opinion of a home’s value off of a Zestimate using it as the basis for setting a list price when selling a house or offer price when buying. I prefer to refer to them as Zestifails because they are often wildly inaccurate.  Zillow even publishes Zestimate Accuracy information that confirms how bad they are.  They currently claim that for the Atlanta metro area, Zestimates are within 5% of the sales price 51.7% of the time (see published table below for recent accuracy information).

Zestimate Accuracy Information

How accurate are Zestimates for the Sope Creek Market? My research shows that on average, Zestimates for sold properties are off by an average of 14% during 2016!  My accuracy research also shows they were within 5% of the final sales price only 24.2% of the time, within 10% only 51.6% of the time, and within 20% only 73.6% of the time!  This means that more than a quarter of the Zestimates for Sope Creek homes are off  more than 20%!  Zestimates are a two way street…55 of the 91 (60.4%) were 5% or more ABOVE the final sales price and 14 of the 91 (15.4%) were 5% or more BELOW the final sales price.

Zillow had a major Zestifail for 275 Dickerson Road.   On November of 2015 the Zestimate was $619K, it listed on 2/15/16 for $975K, and then went under contract in 8 days for $967.5K.  At the time of this post the Zestimate value is still way off at $678,391.

The greatest Zestifail I came across was for 4512 Chattahoochee Way in Chattahoochee Plantation.  The Zestimate value on 8/31/16 was $799K, it was listed that day for $500K and sold 7 days later for $451K.  Zillow was off on the value by a little more than 77%!  They have since adjusted the value to $717K despite the fact that a flipper has been trying to sell the house with updates since 12/2/16 and currently has it listed for $675K.

How can Zestimates be so wildly inaccurate?  Based on my observations, Zillow probably calculates Zestimates using tax record information, past sale data, recent sales from the surrounding area, and some form of a home price index.  A variable from the tax records like property ZIP probably has more weight in their formula than an elementary school district (school districts are not referenced in the tax records and I suspect have no weight on the Zestimate formula).  On top of that, Zestimates don’t have condition information for properties, level of finish information, and can’t factor in other improvements not noted in the tax record.

For an area like Sope Creek Elementary district (rated 10 out of 10 on www.greatschools.com) where the large majority of the homes are located in 30067, Zestimates are more likely influenced by other sales in 30067 than by other Sope Creek Elementary sales located in 30068.  30067 also includes Powers Ferry Elementary (2 out of 10), Brumby (4 out of 10) and Sedalia Park (6 out of 10).  The median price for all homes sold in 30067 in 2016 was $330K while the median price of all homes sold in Sope Creek Elementary was $530K.  Do you think ZIP or school district is a bigger influencer on value?

If you are planning on buying or selling a home, you should use a Zestimate as a barometer to monitor where values are going but it is more important to consult a Realtor who can accurately assess the value of a home and negotiate the best price for you.  Call us at 770-676-1786  for a complimentary market evaluation.  If you have questions about my research, download my Zestifail White Paper.

East Cobb Dining Spotlight

February 23rd, 2017

This week is a busy week for the growing East Cobb dining scene.  First off, Camps Kitchen and Bar opened up this past Monday off Johnson Ferry in the Paper Mill Village space previously housing Paper Mill Grill.  Camps is a new concept from the owners of Hearth Pizza in Sandy Springs featuring a wood fired oven.  I have yet to try out Camps however I understand it features many off-menu wood-fired entrees from Hearth.  I’m especially excited about this addition to the area’s restaurant lineup since it is within walking distance and fills a void at Paper Mill Village caused by the closure of Paper Mill Grill and Valenti’s.

Next, Sage Social Kitchen will be hosting judge Mario Rizzotti from “Iron Chef America” this evening for a meet-and-greet followed by a 4 course meal.  The event begins at 5:30 with dinner starting at 6:30.  Cost is $125 per person and a limited number of tickets must be purchased in advance by calling Sage Social Kitchen at (770) 874-8330.

Finally, Drift Oyster Bar in The Avenues of East Cobb is approaching their one year anniversary and announced a Terrapin Beer Dinner to celebrate the occasion.  The event will be Tuesday March 7th from 6:30 – 9:30 and will feature a 5 course menu with Terrapin Beer Co pairings.  The cost is $84 per person and advanced tickets can be purchased here.

 

House literally underwater? Check the new Cobb flood maps.

February 9th, 2017


Who remembers the epic floods in September of 2009?  Crazy to think that was only 7 years ago and the DOW was under 10K.  We were living in Vinings at the time and I remember Canoe restaurant looked like an island surrounded by the that had topped the banks of the Chattahoochee. Many people were completely caught off guard by the flooding.  Even worse, many didn’t have flood insurance and had no idea they were vulnerable to flooding.

How can that happen? When you purchase a home and apply for a mortgage, your lender checks the national flood maps to determine if the house is in a flood zone.  Many of the flood maps (especially Cobb County) were old and out of date.  On top of that, the maps are not an exact science and are taken from aerial surveys of topography.  As more development occurs, more land becomes impervious to rainfall from new roads, driveways, rooftops, etc.  As a result, more rainfall ends up directed to creeks, streams, and rivers like Sope Creek and the Chattahoochee River.  For this reason, FEMA periodically updates the flood maps but often not frequently enough.

Buying a home that is located in a flood zone? Lenders require flood insurance.  The additional insurance varies widely in cost depending on the risk.  Just because the home is not listed as a flood hazard by the maps does not mean it can not flood.   If you are considering a house near a creek, stream or river OR your current home is located near one, it is a smart idea to check the updated Cobb County flood maps to see if you will need flood insurance or are located near a 100 year flood zone.  Even if you are not required to purchase flood insurance you can purchase optional flood insurance if flooding is a concern.

Welcome back!

February 9th, 2017

Chrissy and I have been so busy selling real estate that it has come at the sacrifice of sopecreekblog.com.  This week we were recognized by Keller Williams Atlanta North (KW’s East Cobb office on Roswell Road) as the #2 Team in the office of 278 agents for 2016!  Unfortunately we have neglected to post any new content on this site for quite a while and things have gotten stale 🙁  We are going to make a concerted effort to update the out-of-date neighborhood pages and add at least one blog post per week relevant to our area of East Cobb.

Sometimes coming up with new things to write about can be the hardest part.  Is there something going on that you are aware of but don’t have the inside scoop?  Seen a new restaurant, retail space, or residential construction project popping up and want to know more?  If so, email me at mason.eldridge@kw.com or call/text at 404-964-9257 with a topic and we will research to bring you the answers in the form of a future blog post.  Thanks for checking back in with us!

Cobblestone Manor Update!

May 3rd, 2014

We received a major update from Ashton Woods regarding their Cobblestone Manor community on Johnson Ferry in East Cobb including initial pricing, floor plans, and community opening date.  Additionally, we learned that the community will be served by Mt. Bethel Elementary School.

If you previously registered through the Contact Us form, we will be contacting you in the next few days to provide you with additional details.  If you would like for us to contact you with more information on the community, please use the Cobblestone Manor Update List form and provide a phone number.

Thanks,
Mason

Taste of East Cobb 2014

May 2nd, 2014

Taste of East Cobb Logo

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for a way to enjoy the beautiful weather outside tomorrow, stop by the Taste of East Cobb from 11 – 5 on Saturday May 3.  The event will be held at the Fountains of Olde Towne (736 Johnson Ferry Road) just north of the intersection of Johnson Ferry and Lower Roswell Roads.  Admission to the event is free and ticket for restaurant bites will be on sale for $1 each with restaurants charging between 1-5 tickets per tasting.  

Festivities include tastings from many local restaurants, kids activities (bounce houses, sand art, face painting), live music, raffle, silent auction and more.  Some of the participating restaurants include Chick-fil-A, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Seed Kitchen and Bar, Mellow Mushroom, Common Quarter, Small Cakes, Baked, Bradley’s Bar and Grill, D’Lites Emporium, Georgia Rib Company, Jersey Mike’s, Keegan’s Irish Pub, Marlow’s Tavern, Mirko Pasta, Whole Foods Market, Zeal Modern Eatery, Sun Dried Restaurant, A Little Bit of Heaven, Quiznos, Trader Joe’s, and Tijuana Joe’s Cantina.

When you are done tasting the wares of the local restaurants, check out one of the many garage sales in neighborhoods throughout the area.  Seems like every neighborhood has a multi-family sale this weekend.

Weather Forecast 5-2-14

Brixx Pizza East Cobb

April 27th, 2014

Brixx Pizza East Cobb

We decided to check out the new Brixx Wood Fired pizza located in the Avenues of East Cobb.  The buildout of the restaurant is beautiful with a large open kitchen featuring the pizza oven in the center.  Tables and booths around the left wall have chalk board walls for the kids to draw on.  You know it is also a family friendly restaurant when they bring the kids pizza dough to play with while they wait for their food.  The restaurant has several flat screen TVs including some 60″ or larger ones where we were able to watch the Manchester United soccer game. There is a long bar overlooking the open kitchen and they recently got their liquor license and now feature 24 beers on draft and 14 wines by the bottle or the glass.

Brixx bar in East Cobb

The restaurant also features a large open air patio.  We elected to sit at a table then my son and I moved up to the bar to watch the soccer game.  Our service at the table was underwhelming however I think it just happened to be the luck of the draw on the server we go because the bartender was great even though we had not ordered under his ticket.  He told us that Brixx is based in Charlotte and has opened up 2 other locations in the metro Atlanta area.  He pointed us to some of the weekly food and beverage specials (see below) and also suggested liking their Facebook page where you can receive BOGO pizza offers.  We lobbied for a “family night” where they should have discounted kids meals and judging by the number of empty tables in the restaurant, I suspect they will need to step up their promotions if they want to be in business a few years down the road.

Brixx East Cobb Weekly SpecialsAs for the food, they have a very extensive menu of pizza options and  I chose the spicy BLT while Chrissy had a Margarita Pizza.  They were good but at $10-$13 per personal pizza, but if it is a Saturday and you are having to pay full price, I’d prefer to go somewhere else where you can get a large family pizza…certainly not Fritti or Antico which are our favorite wood fired pizzas in Atlanta.  If it is a weekday and I can take advantage of the drink specials and BOGO offers, Brixx would be a front runner to fill a pizza craving.

Overall, food was pretty good, atmosphere is great, service was mixed, and the menu was pricey for what it is.  I’ll be back again on a weekday…if you go in help lobby for a family night.

 

Taste of Marietta this Sunday

April 25th, 2014

Taste of Marietta 2014If you are looking for something to do on Sunday, check out the Taste of Marietta on April 27th from 11 – 7 in the Historic Marietta Square.  Admission to the event is free and they have musical performances lined up throughout the day on multiple stages (Taste of Marietta schedule).  Parking information for the Taste of Marietta can be found at their site.  In addition to sampling food and drink from more than 75 different vendors, festival organizers also have Kid’s Alley with multiple moonwalks and games, sand art, face painting and more as well as Sports Corner where you can test your skills and mingle with some of Atlanta’s finest sports teams and mascots.

Cobb County High School Rankings

April 22nd, 2014

The Georgia Department of Education recently released 2012/2013 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores and we have compiled the Cobb County High School Rankings along with information to show how the East Cobb High Schools fared against other area high schools.  To learn more about the CCRPI and recent changes over previous years, view the CCRPI Overview and the CCRPI Changes Explanation and Rationale.  To access the searchable CCRPI database for all the schools in the State of Georgia, visit the Georgia Department of Education site.  I also came across this interactive map on the AJC site that lets you display the Elementary, Middle, and High schools along with a color coded score.

School – System

Score

State of Georgia – Average of all High Schools

71.8

Cobb County – Average of all High Schools

77.4

Walton High School (Cobb County)

92.8

Pope High School (Cobb County)

92.6

Lassiter High School (Cobb County)

92.6

Wheeler High School (Cobb County)

73.2

Sprayberry High School (Cobb County)

80.1

Allatoona High School (Cobb County)

82.9

Campbell High School (Cobb County)

61.9

Harrison High School (Cobb County)

90.6

Hillgrove High School (Cobb County)

90.2

Kell High School (Cobb County)

80.3

Kennesaw Mountain High School (Cobb County)

82.4

McEachern High School (Cobb County)

70.2

North Cobb High School (Cobb County)

76.3

Oakwood High School (Cobb County)

55.4

Osborne High School (Cobb County)

59.2

Pebblebrook High School (Cobb County)

63.7

South Cobb High School (Cobb County)

64.5

Other Area and Competing Schools
Dunwoody High School (DeKalb County)

79.1

Riverwood High School (Fulton County)

73.5

Roswell High School (Fulton County)

84.4

Northview High School (Fulton County)

93.9

Alpharetta High School (Fulton County)

87.1

Chattahoochee High School (Fulton County)

93.8

John’s Creek High School (Fulton County)

92.4

Milton High School (Fulton County)

90.7

Lambert High School (Forsyth County)

90.9

North Forsyth High School (Forsyth County)

81.7

South Forsyth High School (Forsyth County)

91.0

West Forsyth High School (Forsyth County)

84.1

Cobb County Age 62 Tax Exemption

April 16th, 2014

Uncle Sam with moneyThere are very few times of the year when I pay much attention to taxes…this happens to be one time of year where I can’t stop thinking about taxes.  If you need 1 more reason to love living in East Cobb, it has to be taxes.  Our 6% sales tax rate is 1-2% lower than pretty much anywhere else in the Metro Atlanta Area.  Property taxes are also low compared to most everywhere else…especially if you are 62 years old or older.

Many people new to the Atlanta area don’t know how much of a benefit living in Cobb can be once they reach the magic 62 number…it is astounding!  In their infinite wisdom a number of years ago, Cobb County lawmakers realized that seniors are not benefiting much from the Cobb County public school system and decided they shouldn’t have to help fund it.  Cobb seniors do not have to pay the school tax or school bond millage rates associated with their property tax bill!

So what does this really mean?  I looked up 3 comparably valued properties in the tax records just to illustrate the point…1 East Cobb property without the senior exemption, 1 East Cobb Property with the senior exemption, and 1 property just a few miles away on the other side of the river in Sandy Springs/Fulton County.  Below is what they pay:

  • Property 1 (East Cobb – No Cobb County Age 62 Exemption): Home was purchased in 2011 for $600,200, has an assessed value of $213,420 and they paid $6130 in property taxes in 2013
  • Property 2 (East Cobb – WITH Cobb County Age 62 Exemption): Home was purchased in 1978 (same neighborhood as #1), has an assessed value of $214,664 and paid $1425 in property taxes in 2013
  • Property 3 (Sandy Springs – Fulton County): Home sold in 2012 for $609,500, has an assessed value of $198,600 and paid  $8255 in property taxes in 2013 ($7102 to Fulton County and $1153 to Sandy Springs)

So the Cobb property with the Age 62 exemption paid about a quarter of the taxes that the guy down the street with a comparably valued home (without the exemption) was paying and paid only 17% as much as the guy on the other side of the river!  Also interesting to note is that the guy in Cobb without the exemption paid 26% less property taxes than the guy in Sandy Springs with a comparably valued home!

Cobb County homeowners who are 62 or older as of January 1 (of the current year) may file for the School Tax Exemption (Cobb County Age 62 Tax Exemption) by completing and submitting the Cobb County Exemptions Form on or before April 1 of that year.  Please visit the www.CobbTax.org site for the most current forms and filing instructions.

If you are looking for a house in East Cobb with a master on main, check out these properties and give Chrissy a call at 404-423-1122 to put her to work to find you the right house.