Sope Creek Blog

Connecting You to East Cobb

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.

Cobblestone Manor Progress Report

April 15th, 2014

We get a lot of site traffic with people looking for updates on the Ashton Woods’ Cobblestone Manor community being built on Johnson Ferry Road in East Cobb.  Since I drive by the community several times a day and it has been a while since I last wrote about it, I thought I would write a quick update.

I last reported that there was litigation between Francis Perkins (member of the family that recently owned the property), the land developers involved, and Ashton Woods Homes over the sale of the raw land.  A recent check of the Cobb County Superior Court Clerk web site indicated that the suits were dismissed on March 25th.  With that major obstacle out of the way, I expect that Ashton Woods will close on the first group of lots in Cobblestone Manor soon and begin construction of the sales model and possibly the clubhouse and amenities package.

As of yesterday, about a third of the lots are completely developed (graded, sewer stubs, blacktop on the roads, and water cutoff boxes set near the street).  The curbs and gutters are completed throughout the community and they have put up fencing around the retaining ponds.  The most noticeable progress at the community over the past few weeks is the brick and stone veneer added to the wall around the community perimeter along Johnson Ferry Road.  Cobblestone Manor - Ashton Woods Homes East Cobb on Johnson Ferry

I reached out to the VP of Sales at Ashton Woods for any official comment regarding the resolution of the law suit and timing of the community opening.  His response was mum and he didn’t address the law suit or provide any new information.  If this project is like all the other Ashton Woods communities, they will probably have every detail finalized, the sales model staged with music playing, standard features ironed out, and the community pool ready to use before they offer the first home for sale.  Stay tuned for further updates and if you would like to be added to our list to stay informed on the progress, please add your name to the Cobblestone Manor update list or call Mason at 404-964-9257.

Sell Now! – Part 2

April 10th, 2014
The Sope Creek market is low on inventory...that translates into more money for sellers and a shorter time on market!

The Sope Creek market is low on inventory…that translates into more money for sellers and a shorter time on market!

Need yet another reason that now is the time to sell your house?   I just pulled the numbers and it confirms what we already knew…there isn’t much for sale in Sope Creek Elementary School district.  If no new homes came on the market, we would run out of housing inventory in:

  • 3 Months (homes priced below $500K)
  • 3 Months (homes priced $500K – $750K)
  • 6.4 Months (homes priced $750K – $1M)
  • 22.6 Months (homes priced $1M-$1.5M)
  • 18 Months (homes priced $1.5M – $2M)
  • 30 Months (homes priced $2M+)

So what does that mean?  A balanced market occurs when there is 6-7 months of housing inventory.  Less than 6 months is considered a seller’s market and more is considered a buyer’s market.

While the market for houses over $1M is still soft, the conditions for selling below $1M are the best we have seen in a very long time making the conditions right for a quick sale for top dollar.

If you are considering selling your house, give Mason a call at 404-964-9257 for a complimentary market evaluation.

Sell NOW!

April 9th, 2014

There is no question that we are experiencing one of the hottest real estate markets in a long time!  Do you know somebody that thought about selling or even attempted to sell their home a few years ago and was unsuccessful?  There is a pretty good chance that they would be successful in today’s market!

I was looking through some of the past year’s sales in East Cobb and came across a number of examples of homes that failed to sell several years ago and then were successful in today’s market…many sold in a few weeks or less and sold for more money than what they were listed for several years ago!  Click on the report below for 3 of the many examples of homes in the Sope Creek Elementary market that had recent success after being unsuccessful a few years ago:

Sell Now Report

 

We are here to help you or your neighbor reach their real estate goals.  Contact Mason at 404-964-9257 for a complimentary market evaluation of your home’s value…who knows, the Eldridge Team might even have the right buyer for your home!

Q1 2014 Sope Creek Elementary Market Report

April 9th, 2014

The Spring market is getting into full swing and we have the latest market stats for the Sope Creek Elementary real estate market.  I pulled all the single family sales from Q1 of 2014 and compared it to the same period for 2013.  Here you go:

Q1 2013

Q2 2014

% Change

Number of Sales

35

29

-17.1%

Average List Price

$536,017

$537,997

0.4%

Average Sale Price

$505,165

$510,677

1.1%

Average SP/LP %

96.9%

96.8%

-0.1%

Avg Seller Paid CC (% of Sales Price)

0.7%

0.8%

0.1%

Average Total DOM

103

87

-15.5%

Average Price/SF

$126.2

$133.42

5.7%

We are still in a very healthy seller’s market and I expect that will continue through the prime 2014 selling season.  While fewer homes sold in Q1 2014 (there are potentially 3-5 more that closed in FMLS but have not been updated), I don’t have any concern there…less inventory is influencing this and also helped improve the average DOM (days on market).

We are here to help you out.  If you are considering selling your home, please give Mason a call at 404-964-9257 and he will be happy to assist you in evaluating all of your options.

Dantanna’s Sandy Springs Coming Soon

April 7th, 2014

dantannas logoOn my trip down Abernathy Road yesterday, I noticed the renovations have begun in the old Applebees location at the corner of Roswell Road to make room for a new Dantanna’s Sandy Springs location.  After searching for some decent upscale sports bar options in East Cobb to watch March Madness, the Dantanna’s Sandy Springs location will be a welcome addition.  Hopefully they will offer the Sunday brunch they have become famous for at their Buckhead location.

 

East Cobb School Rankings – Middle Schools

April 7th, 2014

2013 Cobb County CRCT Results

School name

6th Grade: Mean Score State of GA Percentile

7th Grade: Mean Score State of GA Percentile

8th Grade: Mean Score State of GA Percentile

Average across all Grades

Cobb County Rank

HIGHTOWER TRAIL

99.7%

99.0%

98.7%

99.1%

T1

DICKERSON MIDDLE

99.6%

98.2%

99.4%

99.1%

T1

DODGEN MIDDLE

98.5%

96.4%

99.0%

98.0%

3

SIMPSON MIDDLE

96.1%

97.3%

96.7%

96.7%

4

MABRY MIDDLE

97.1%

94.9%

96.1%

96.0%

5

LOST MOUNTAIN

93.3%

94.0%

90.2%

92.5%

6

DURHAM MIDDLE

91.3%

90.4%

90.3%

90.7%

7

LOVINGGOOD MIDDLE

90.5%

91.1%

88.3%

89.9%

8

MCCLURE MIDDLE

89.0%

88.4%

87.5%

88.3%

9

MCCLESKEY MIDDLE

90.4%

77.7%

84.5%

84.2%

10

PALMER MIDDLE

76.2%

76.1%

83.3%

78.6%

11

AWTREY MIDDLE

83.1%

75.9%

71.8%

76.9%

12

DANIELL MIDDLE

77.9%

71.3%

65.7%

71.6%

13

BARBER MIDDLE

79.2%

68.4%

57.5%

68.4%

14

PINE MOUNTAIN

56.1%

61.5%

52.1%

56.5%

15

EAST COBB MIDDLE

59.3%

42.6%

54.7%

52.2%

16

TAPP MIDDLE

70.0%

48.3%

37.8%

52.0%

17

GRIFFIN MIDDLE

42.7%

42.1%

49.2%

44.7%

18

COOPER MIDDLE

44.5%

43.2%

42.2%

43.3%

19

CAMPBELL MIDDLE

47.4%

36.5%

45.4%

43.1%

20

IMAGINE INTERNATIONAL

44.9%

44.8%

29.8%

39.8%

21

FLOYD MIDDLE

38.8%

37.2%

33.3%

36.4%

22

LINDLEY ACADEMY

30.2%

32.7%

38.5%

33.8%

23

SMITHA MIDDLE

33.2%

33.1%

30.5%

32.3%

23

GARRETT MIDDLE

26.2%

26.5%

17.4%

23.4%

25

So I think I have self-diagnosed a case of insomnia after spending the Spring Break week in Colorado two time zones behind…I’m not sure if anything else would drive me to want to compile the Cobb County Middle School rankings this soon after returning to work.

After putting the time into the research, it comes as no surprise that the top 5 Cobb County middle schools are East Cobb Middle Schools.  Not only that, Hightower Trail, Dickerson Middle, Dodgen Middle, Simpson Middle, and Mabry Middle are in the top 5% of the approximately 550 middle schools in the State of Georgia!  The top 3 schools all had some very impressive showings compared to all the other schools in the State of Georgia: Hightower Trail finished #1 in the state for 6th grade, #3 for 7th, and #6 for 8th.  Dickerson tied #2 in the state for 6th grade, #9 for 7th grade, and #2 for 8th grade. Finally, Dodgen finished #5 in the state for 6th grade, #16 for 7th grade, and #4 for 8th grade.

For parents considering middle school options all over the metro area, I thought it would be useful to also provide a report that contains some of the other the top performing middles schools from other counties in the immediate Metro Atlanta area.  Click on the link to access the full report of the Metro Atlanta’s Top Middle Schools – 2013 CRCT Rankings.

Before you shoot me an email about the process of compiling the information or basing a home move on a quantitative value aggregated from CRCT scores, please read my previous post on the East Cobb Elementary School Rankings as I have followed the same process for this one and I believe a lot more should go into the process of deciding where to live.  Again, I have taken 2013 CRCT test result data from the Georgia Department of Education and tried to create a objective reference point for people looking for current information to begin their school search process.  For the full data set, click the link to download the 2013 CRCT – All Middle School Data.

East Cobb School Rankings – Elementary Schools

March 25th, 2014
Rank School Name Avg. Percentile Rank Across all Grades
1 Timber Ridge 97.77%
2 Sope Creek 97.74%
3 Mount Bethel 97.09%
4 Tritt 95.83%
5 East Side 94.71%
6 Shallowford Falls 93.95%
7 Mountain View 93.45%
8 Murdock 92.65%
9 Garrison Mill 90.73%
10 Addison 84.80%
11 Kincaid 84.65%
12 Sedalia Park 71.78%
13 Eastvalley 63.19%
14 Brumby 41.95%
15 Powers Ferry 26.18%

Are you looking for East Cobb School rankings and not having any success finding objective current information?  I found myself in the same situation a few years ago when we were considering a move from Smyrna as Trey approached Kindergarten.  At the time, I found the Georgia Public Policy Foundation had some good information online that ranked schools by school system or by grade.  The problem with this site is that the study was prepared in 2010 and based on data from 2009 and doesn’t give parents an accurate picture of today’s school rankings.

There are plenty of web sites like GreatSchools.org is pretty user friendly but it too uses 2010 CRCT data.  I realized there is a real lack of current information available about school rankings and East Cobb School Rankings in particular.  For that reason, I recently devoted a great deal of time to putting together a comprehensive analysis of the 2013 Georgia CRCT data (this information was downloaded from the Georgia Department of Education) so that parents can compare the different school options and determine which area of town they want to focus their search on.  In this blog post, I’m going to focus on the East Cobb School Rankings for Elementary schools and subsequent posts will look at Middle and High school rankings.

I want to preface the report with the following: this is just an analysis of standardized test result data provided by the Georgia Department of Education.  Test results do not necessarily mean one school is better than another…it just means that students at that school performed better on the material tested on the day of testing.  There is great debate that schools put too much emphasis on “teaching to the test” so that the school shows well in the test results.  If you are considering a move to East Cobb or anywhere in Georgia because of schools, you should consider other factors including whether or not the school is near or over capacity, is the physical classroom environment right for your child, does the school have special programs in a specific area that are a good fit for your child (ex STEM or International Baccalaureate program), etc.  Before you decide that you want to move to a particular school district, take a tour of the school along with a few others and see if one feels like a better fit for your children.  We used the standardized test results and school rankings as a starting point to narrow down our consideration set.  Sope Creek Elementary was one of the schools we considering and the proximity to Sandy Springs and access to 75 along with a tour of the school helped solidify our decision.

I’m sure the table I posted above is going to ruffle some feathers and somebody who is a bigger nerd is going to poke holes in the methodology I used to come up with the ranking.  I will be the first to admit that the method used to prepare the ranking probably has some holes in it (each school received an average percentile score for the 5 categories by grade test score (3rd, 4th, & 5th) and then I averaged the score across all 3 grades).  What I do want to point out is there is an ever so slight difference in score between Timber Ridge, Sope Creek, and Mount Bethel and 9 of the 15 schools on the list are in the top 10% of elementary schools in the state.

Click on the report above to view the PDF version of our 2013 CRCT 3rd Grade Summary

Click on the report above to view the PDF version of our 2013 CRCT 3rd Grade Summary

Click on the report above to view the PDF version of our 2013 CRCT 4th Grade Summary

Click on the report above to view the PDF version of our 2013 CRCT 4th Grade Summary

 

Click on the report above to view the PDF version of our 2013 CRCT 5th Grade Summary

Click on the report above to view the PDF version of our 2013 CRCT 5th Grade Summary

According to the Georgia Department of Education“the CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in the state mandated content standards in reading, English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The assessments yield information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system, and state levels. This information is used to diagnose individual student strengths and weaknesses as related to the instruction of the state standards, and to gauge the quality of education throughout Georgia.”

On to our analysis…click on the pictures below to download our reports.  The 3 reports above only include the schools in East Cobb and allows you to compare their results in the 5 categories tested to the Georgia averages, Cobb averages, and see what percentile they placed in each category.  If you are curious to see the raw data which contains all 1247 Elementary schools tested in the State of Georgia, download the 2013 Georgia CRCT Excel spreadsheet which contains the percentile rankings we have added in.  The information might help you decide that another part of Metro Atlanta is right for you.  As you will see, an overwhelming majority of the schools in East Cobb ranked above the 90th percentile and often there is not a bad choice when trying to decide.  The raw data from the GA DOE was untouched and anything added for analysis purposes was highlighted in yellow with a solid black box around it.

Sibley Pond at Sope Creek park

March 23rd, 2014

As the Spring weather continues to be spectacular, I look for any chance to enjoy the outdoors…even if it is for a short walk around one of the many local sections of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  2014-03-22 14.09.24

The Sope Creek unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is one of my favorite places to visit this time of year.  Located off Paper Mill Road just West of the the Sope Creek bridge, the area has a number of hiking and biking trails connecting you to Sope Creek as well as the trails along the Chattahoochee River.  Parking can sometimes be difficult when the weather is nice however there were several open spaces when we arrived on Saturday around 2.

Sibley Pond - Sope CreekMy favorite part of this section of the NRA is Sibley Pond which is located just a few hundred feet from the parking lot.  Sibley Pond is a little bit over 2 acres in size, has crystal clear water allowing you to see the bottom, and is home to a lot of wildlife.  My kids love going here because you we always see plenty of fish, turtles, ducks, frogs, and other animals.  On various trips, I’ve seen water snakes swimming, one snake sunning after its winter hibernation, and even saw a hawk fly down and swoop up a smaller snake.  After you cross over the earthen dam, there is a large wooden dock that is ideal for fishing or just relaxing and enjoying the tranquility of the pond.

During our visit yesterday, we enjoyed the music of a bamboo pan flute played by one guest.  If you live in the area and visit the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area on occasion, the annual parking pass is a must have and is available for $25.  Without the pass, visitors must pay a $3 parking fee per visit and this location does not have the automated machine that accepts credit card payment.

If you are looking for something to do outdoors during this beautiful Spring weather, don’t forget Sibley Pond and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation area…it is one of the many things that makes the Sope Creek Elementary area such a great place to live.

Fatal car accident on Paper Mill

March 23rd, 2014

If you were anywhere near the intersection of Paper Mill and Johnson Ferry yesterday late afternoon, you probably heard the continuous sound of sirens as police, ambulances, and fire trucks responded to an accident on Paper Mill near the entrance of Atlanta Country Club.  Although local media coverage of the accident has been limited, I was able to locate one report on wsbtv.com.

Summarizing the news article and several Facebook posts, an antique roadster flipped over and landed on its roof on Paper Mill near Atlanta County Club Drive.  The driver of the antique car was not wearing a seat belt and died at the scene.  Two passengers were in the vehicle and people who first arrived at the scene were able to lift the vehicle and pull them from beneath.  No details were released about what caused the accident, the name of the deceased, or the status of the two passengers riding in the vehicle.  Paper Mill remained closed for several hours while police investigated the accident scene.

UPDATE: Additional details have been released about the accident.  East Cobb resident Eddie B. Strickland (age 67) was the driver of the 1929 Model A Ford and passed away as the result of the accident.   His wife Lynn Strickland was a passenger in the vehicle and was rushed to Wellstar Kennestone hospital with serious injuries.  A 3 year old was also a passenger in the vehicle and didn’t suffer serious injuries.

The accident was caused when the Model A was struck from behind by a VW Jetta causing the car to veer into the oncoming lanes, roll over, and collide with an oncoming minivan.

The Stricklands live off Woodlawn Drive just south of Lower Roswell Road.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and those involved with the accident.