East Cobb High School SAT Scores

East Cobb High School SAT Scores

East Cobb High School SAT Scores led all Cobb County Schools in 2019! The Cobb County School District released 2019 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores on Tuesday, and four East Cobb high schools lead the way in 2019.

Walton High (1,288), Pope High  (1,220) and Lassiter High (1,212) the perennial East Cobb favorites which consistently rank the highest all had average class wide scores exceeding 1,200, while Wheeler High (1,196) came close. While all these schools are excellent, it is important to check into a schools programs and not just focus on the highest test scores (especially when they are so close) to assure a good fit for your student as each school will differ somewhat in educational style and special programs offered.

Wheeler’s jump of 49 points was the highest of the 16 high schools in the Cobb County School District.

“Wheeler continues to focus on providing the best overall learning experience for ALL students,” Wheeler Principal Paul Gillihan said in a statement issued by the school district.

“We strongly believe that SAT scores do not define our students nor our school but only provide evidence of the work that is being done daily to prepare our students for college and careers.”

Walton’s score is up 20 points from 2018. Full district scores and details can be found here.

Read more

Looking for more info about East Cobb schools, lifestyles, or homes – reach out to East Cobb resident and veteran East Cobb Realtor and Broker/Owner Robert Whitfield here, or text Robert at 404-561-7546.

East Cobb Home Inventory February 2017

East Cobb Market Snapshot – February 2, 2017

As the following slides show, East Cobb Home Inventory February 2017 in the top three high school districts, Walton, Lassiter, and Pope is low in many price ranges – this continues a trend that we have seen over the least several years. It means that buyers will have to compete hard for the best homes. This is a market when you want to hire the best local broker you can find – trying to be your own broker is never smart since buyer brokers are free, but in this market trying the DIY route is the best way to loose out on your dream home to a better equipped buyer – one who has expert representation.

The data can also be used to help you determine the likelihood that you will be able to find a certain priced home in a particular school system – for example homes under $300K in the Walton High District are in very short supply – always. Also, while this graph doesn’t show it, New Construction Homes in the Walton High District are almost non existent under $700K+.

Contact me to get the edge on all East Cobb micro market opportunities –

Robert Whitfield 678-585-9691

East Cobb Inventory By High School February 2017

East Cobb Inventory by Price and School – February 2, 2017


East Cobb Luxury Inventory by Highschool February 2017

East Cobb Luxury Inventory by Price and School – February 2, 2017


East Cobb Sold Homes 90 Days Ending January 31, 2017

East Cobb Sold Homes Volume z- 90 Days Ending January 31, 2017


Prospect Mortgage, Keller Williams, and ReMax Fined For Illegal Kickbacks

Respa ViolationsThis practice is egregious – and so wrong. Consumers are supposed to be able to rely on their agents to be a trusted and non biased advisor – this just goes to show you cannot select an agent simply because they work for a large well known national franchise brokerage firm.

I want all our clients and prospects to know Advantage Realtors, a small specialized boutique brokerage in East Cobb, has never sought or accepted a kickback fee for referring any vendor. We have refused all such offers from vendors – mostly inspectors and home warranty companies. Our referrals of vendors is based strictly on the quality of the vendors service – and we refer several never just one. Our vendor relationships have been developed over time and our vendors are proven, trusted, performers that are tops in their industry. Advantage Realtors provides unmatched and personalized services and we expect the vendors we refer to do the same.

We have encountered a similar questionable practice pointed out in the article among some listing brokers here in Atlanta – namely the requirement in the broker comments section of a listing that buyers must have a pre-qualification from a specific lender in order to make an offer – even if they already have a letter from a reputable lender! This is an absurd practice known as “writing in”, and it reeks of an unhealthy under the table lead generation arrangement. We advocate for our clients that they do NOT need to get a “second pre-qualification” in order to submit an offer, and we have been successful so far.

Like every agent or broker who knows what they’re doing and how to run a business, Advantage Realtors requires all buyer clients we represent to be pre-qualified by a lender at a minimum, or better pre-approved for a loan or we don’t represent them. The resulting “lender letter” is sufficient evidence for all parties, sellers, banks, etc that our buyers are qualified to submit an offer in a certain price range and not a waste of anyone’s time. Moreover, having buyers get what is known in the industry as a “pre-qual” can be done with minimal effort and a brief phone conversation. It is just sound business practice to assure a buyer is actually qualified to look at certain priced homes – especially since we don’t just meet buyers at homes and open doors – we exert a significant amount of extra time performing extra due-diligence to better inform and protect our buyers – services like micro market price trend and valuation checks, free building structural, workmanship, and major system evaluations, and even monitoring of new homes under construction and advocating for our clients with regard to contract, inspection defects, and new construction quality issues – services other agents don’t provide and in most cases are not qualified to provide, and not allowed by their broker to provide.

Robert Whitfield – Broker/Owner Advantage Realtors


RISMedia January 31, 2017

Prospect Mortgage, LLC, a major mortgage lender, and two real estate brokerages have been ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to pay more than $3.5 million in civil penalties and consumer compensation for participating in an “illegal kickback scheme” for mortgage business referrals.

Prospect Mortgage, headquartered in Sherman Oaks, CA., Corvallis, OR. based Keller Williams Mid-Willamette and Ventura, CA.-based RE/MAX Gold Coast all three violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), according to the CFPB, which prohibits real estate agents and brokerages from recommending settlement services, such as title insurance, appraisals, inspections, and loan origination, to consumers in exchange for payment from these service providers.

“Today’s action sends a clear message that it is illegal to make or accept payments for mortgage referrals,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “We will hold both sides of these improper arrangements accountable for breaking the law, which skews the real estate market to the disadvantage of consumers and honest businesses.”

For More Info…

Atlanta Ranks 3rd Nationally for Failed Buyer Transactions

Atlanta ranks 3rd nationally for failed buyer transactions in 2016

The Risks of Using a Poorly Qualified Real Estate Agent – or No Agent at All!

I live and work in North Atlanta and find it sad that Atlanta ranks third nationally for Failed Buyer Transactions and the total percentage of failed deals for 2016.

The 10.4% quoted in Trulia’s report is an outrageous number of fails – clearly, someone does not know what they’re doing. This report highlights first time buyers as the largest group affected, however the fails also include a significant number of fails by experienced move-up and even luxury home buyers.

I find it interesting that no data was put forth on what percentage of these buyers went into the deal on their own without the help of an experienced buyers agent, but I’ll bet it’s a significant number. Lately I have seen industry reports citing a growing number of buyers (in all price ranges) getting into dual agency situations by trying to buy real estate on their own, often with a poor understanding of what was happening as problems occurred.

Apparently an increasing number of buyers are dealing directly with the builders or sellers listing agent on their own and that is of course risky, but since buyers agents are free, and no money is saved by trying to represent yourself, it’s a pointless undertaking and shows a lack of understanding about basic real estate in general, and especially how Buyers can protect their own best interest!

Too many buyers “do a little online research” and assume they are market experts and can handle a purchase transaction on their own, but in my experience, even experienced buyers lack important skills. A big difference is most experienced buyers recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know, and hire an agent. Those who do try to go it alone, are in my opinion (*and the GA Court Systems opinion) being irresponsible, and bear real risks that they may have little legal recourse when things go wrong – even if “they feel” another party did not enlighten them or look out for them. *Since 2000, GA Courts have held that if you enter into a real estate transaction without adequate representation, you are on your own, and absent provable fraud, most complaint cases will not move forward.

Appraisal issues and home inspection problems have always been two major areas that derail deals. While very few agents know how to spot building and structural issues and warn their buyers, too many agents simply don’t do an adequate job justifying the sellers list price and the result is wasted time and money submitting offers the appraiser can’t justify.

CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) can help – if done right – but a better understanding of the appraisal process and how to properly value property would help both sellers and buyers by preventing seriously overpriced properties.

Major issues occur when properties are priced using the wrong square footage, and if you don’t understand how to measure a house and what counts as square footage, you really don’t know what the price should be.

As I have said for almost 20 years, there is no substitute for vetting agents and then hiring the most skilled Buyers Broker you can find.

To view the full report see Trulia

For Atlanta’s most experienced and comprehensive Buyer Representation contact me, Robert Whitfield 678-585-9691, and I will put my over 35 years of experience as a GA Broker/Owner, ICC Certified Building Inspector, and New Home Construction expert to work on your behalf to assure you see the best homes available, make a sound purchase, and get the best possible price and terms. My buyer clients receive more insight and information about three important aspects that facilitate really smart purchase decisions – the properties physical condition, micro-market conditions, and what a realistic price looks like – regardless of the sellers listed price.

I enjoy being able to provide buyers with the extra information necessary so they are empowered to better recognize the best home for them when they see it, and make better informed and confident decisions to purchase one home versus another, including when NOT to purchase a certain home! Part of my industry leading service includes straightforward advice when I identify any property (new or existing) that I suggest you avoid when conditions warrant and that call is in your best interest. There is no fee for any of these elite level services and protections – I accept the standard buyers agent fee all builders and sellers offer to any buyers agent in MLS.

Danger Report – Time To Clean House


Danger Report - Poorly Qualified Agents

The DANGER Report – Poorly Qualified Agents are more the rule than the exception!
In an industry where practitioners (agents and realtors) own actions have increasingly caused concern about the quality and value of agents from the general public’s perspective, it is nice to see that concern has been reported to the major industry trade association – (NAR) the National Association of Realtors. The comprehensive report was recently released and distributed to industry associations, realtor boards, mls systems, and brokers and agents – it allows the industry to take a sobering internal look at present problems and possible future events that can impact and even change the way real estate operates in the future – especially if the industry does not make appropriate changes.

To NAR’s credit, they commissioned the DANGER report which was performed by the independent industry think tank the T-3 Group headed up by Stephan Swanepoel to assess the current state of the real estate industry and develop a list of impending threats to the real estate industry as a whole, and categorized these dangers by the level of impact, the likelihood of the event, and time frame the event might make an impact.

The Number 1 Danger to The Industry – Incompetent Agents!

The report found that a vast number (several sources report up to 80% or more) of typical real estate agents are marginal – only work part-time, are poorly trained, unethical, and/or are incompetent!  This group of substandard agents drags the industry down – this causes agents everywhere including the professional agents to be viewed as less credible.


This is a report for the industry, but buyers and sellers should see it too – view the Danger Report. This huge number of poor quality agents not only pose a danger to the unsuspecting (and in many cases irresponsible) public that hire them – but they tarnish their own industry and harm the image of all agents (the 20% of “good” agents who are competent and caring.) That is why it has become increasingly important for the elite level agents – those who have transcended the role as salesperson/generalist to become true Expert Advisers (a group that number less than 5% of all agents) to articulate their value proposition and DISTINGUISH themselves from the 80% of bottom feeders!

As the report states, this huge percentage of poor quality and incompetent agents threaten the long term viability of the real estate industry itself. Unfortunately, if the buying and selling public don’t begin demanding more, (and that is a problem in itself) internal changes are unlikely, and the status quo will likely remain for a while to the detriment of the public and the industry.

As I see it, several issues drive this industry problem:

Problem 1. The largest by far – the bar to entry into the real estate field to become a licensed agent is and has been far too low – and the industry does not seem interested in improving the educational standards and requirements, because that would eliminate a lot of dues paying members – including those that got in for the wrong reasons and never should have gotten a license. This includes all the bored homemakers, laid off and broke ex employees, restless retirees, and others who get into the business everyday for all the wrong reasons and then leave within 18 months or flounder on. The wrong reasons are: greed – looks like easy money…desperation – I need a job…boredom – I need something to do…no concern for the public – I want a job I can do on the side – part-time, (regardless of how my unavailability impacts my clients and other agents), etc.

People who aren’t passionate about this business and helping other people, who aren’t committed to being their best, and who aren’t properly funded and prepared to make the investments in business systems and training needed to succeed and DIFFERENTIATE themselves from the masses of inept agents are destined to fail. These are the ones who hang in for a year or two or three and call themselves agents, yet barely do a transaction or two or none, and are a definite cancer on the industry!

Significant added requirements are the solution – that would reduce the ridiculous excess of so-so agent/salespersons we have today – (Atlanta has well over 40,000 agents) – but of course that would impact brokerage and association fees at every level and therein lies the problem – that’s why change will come slowly of at all from the industry. It’s so easy for people from all walks of life with no prior experience in real estate at all to become agents. I met a retired Lockheed avionics technician at a recent Negotiation training event, and he became an agent (with a major franchise firm) – simply because the agent who sold him his home suggested he become an agent and join the firm!

The above leads to Problem 2. Membership Fees – brokers and MLS associations push constant recruitment efforts to drive fees and expansion for their firm – and affiliated agents get a bonus for bringing new meat on board their firm. With all due respect, this elderly gentleman was probably great at his job at Lockheed, but I could tell from his questions and general input, even after over 1.5 years of training with (a rapidly growing national franchise firm), a firm who has repeatedly tried to hire me, and IMHO has some of the best training programs out there – he was still a very green and poorly equipped agent with very little to offer a client besides allowing them to use his MLS search system, and getting them into the door of locked homes! To be fair he is not unique – like most agent/realtor events I attend, the same was true of about 80 percent of the class participants present that day who represented a cross section of all the major firms in Atlanta and the US – some of whom had been in real estate for 15 – 25+ years! Some of the real estate 101 questions asked at that stage of the game and years on the job were scary!

The situation is absurd and change is needed! It’s just way too easy to get in – but it’ is not easy to make a living as most people find out – and fortunately many get out – but too many hang in and crowd the sidelines looking for a relative or friend in their “sphere of influence” to become the next victim customer! Considering the size of financial transaction that a home sale or purchase represents, it is egregious to let total green rookies into the business with only a 75 hr course and unleash them on the public – but it happens every day. Even hairdressers and cosmetologists, have more educational and licensing requirements than agents who may “help” someone transact to buy or sell a $500K home!

Problem 3. Agents are independent contractors – and each one is like a mini small business – thus real estate is one of the few industries where there are no consistent standards of service – at any Brokerage! Because of IRS regulations regarding independent contractors, Brokers can’t tell their agents how to do their work – that would classify them as an employee, and that is a big no no. This is the very reason NO Brokerage firm has agent standards of service. Agents are left to design and operate their business how they want to – agents at the same brokerage can provide great service, inconsistent service, or extremely poor and incompetent service!

This is why I have always cautioned buyers and sellers who are looking for an agent – that you never select an agent based on the firm they work for no matter how prestigious or large the firm may seem – not my firm Advantage Realtors, not Keller Williams, not Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s – the agent firm is not a selection criteria – not when you understand how things work: It’s the Agent you hire, that will make or break your deal! The agents firm is not conducting and overseeing your transaction – the agent is! The firm is supposed to review agent paperwork for error and violations, but except to write the agent a commission check after closing, the firm doesn’t get involved at all unless serious things occur which cause a consumer or the other agent to complain – by then irreparable damage may have occurred.

Problem 4. Agents are salespersons – many people and agents themselves attribute much more importance to the skills of an agent than they actually deserve – agents may call themselves anything – neighborhood specialist, market expert, number 1 in sales, blah blah, etc. The facts are, 95% of agents are nothing more than salespersons – that is how they are described on their GA License. There is also the inherent problem created because of the very nature of agents…of course every salespersons goal is to sell – obviously this can become a serious conflict of interest when it comes to putting the buyer or seller clients interest first – ahead of the agents own interests – making the sale and getting to closing. Too many agents push homes, push transactions, and/or don’t disclose everything they know about a transaction – especially things that may change a buyer or sellers decision process if they knew about them.

An agent who fails to disclose things they know that are NOT in the buyer or sellers best interest is a license law violation – but only if the buyer or seller is a client being represented in writing!

Problem 5. Weak and desperate agents who are just scraping by – these financially desperate agents – especially the ones who come into contact with buyers and are so desperate for a customer they won’t even educate buyers on basic agency laws (a license law violation) and won’t ask a buyer to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement to become a client – in fear they may scare the buyer away! And if they do try to educate the buyer on agency relationships as required by GA Law, but the buyer refuses to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement, weak and desperate agents give in and work with the buyer as a customer rather than as a client – and in doing so the buyer is taking on the full risks for everything that might go wrong with their transaction – and except for provable fraud, they have little to no legal recourse against the agent for the outcome of their transaction! Top quality agents who know what they’re doing (and who care about their reputation) will insist on providing their best service and industry level advice when working with buyers and sellers – and by law, this can only be done when a client level relationship has been formed – which in GA must be spelled out in writing in a Brokerage Representation Agreement! Any agent worth their salt, will tell a buyer who does not want to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement, sorry but they are not able to help them!

This takes strength of character to do what is right – and it takes having a degree of success in your business so you can pick who you work with and who you don’t. Desperate agents don’t have success and they have no value proposition so they chase prospects rather than the other way around. They don’t have respect, so they have prospects who don’t listen to them, who research sites like Zillow etc, and who then think they know as much or more than their agent!  What a miserable way to work.

Regardless, at the end of the day, as agents and Brokers, we know (or are supposed to know) the law and are supposed to be the experts, and protect the public – even if that means politely telling a prospect “because you refuse to allow me to give you my best, I simply can’t help you.” These weak and desperate agents are not good for anyone – they will agree to “work” with anyone under any circumstance, including circumstances they know to be bad for their buyer customer. They let uninformed buyers tell them how to run their business, and they pose the most danger to the public in real estate transactions. That type agent is egregious – and what the DANGER report is all about. Buyers who use this kind of agent frankly deserve what they get. There is too much free information on the internet about the difference between being a customer and a client and learning how to protect yourself as a buyer when working with agents, is not rocket science.

Of course far too many buyers start their home search out all wrong – they spend all their time in the MLS ‘candy shop window’, looking at homes on their own, rather than first learning how to find the best expert to assist them in getting a properly targeted home search set up, and making life much easier for themselves. I agree, it’s more fun to look at homes, than it is talking with and vetting a few agents. But in the long run a skilled agent can make their lives so much easier – and an true expert level agent can give invaluable market insights and put them light years ahead in their search process – and give them an edge over their competition – other buyers.

Problem 6. Ubiquitous internet IDX home search portals – most agent IDX systems require log in at some point – but some agents don’t require buyers to log in ever (thinking they will get more “leads”). (What kind of “lead” do you have if the visitor did not leave a real name, email address, and number – nothing?) Are we in business to let the buyer find their home on their own, or are we here to give them direction, help them see all options, and help them find the best home, and get the best deal? If not why don’t we just give the buyer our super key so they can let themselves in too? Being facetious of course!

What these agents are really doing is giving away the store – providing a free services to members of the public who probably won’t reciprocate and have no intention of using them, services which their broker pays multi thousands a year for. (There are things in the works now [November 2015] to stop unfettered distribution of Broker listing data and information, and Brokers will regain total control over who can see listing information and who gets it – this could affect both local MLS systems and third party portals like Zillow – we will see in Q1 2016)

The result of giving a buyer the MLS rather than helping them with it, agents are helping buyers bring a lot of problems on themselves – too many buyers start the home search process completely backwards simply because they can – looking at homes first, rather than finding an expert who could set them up on a much better and more relevant and targeted search and keep them informed them about homes buyers would never find on their own. Instead some agents have taught buyers to be DIY’ers – to spend weeks and months combing the internet on their own looking at and for homes, and meanwhile they miss a lot of opportunities in the process, and take way longer than necessary to learn the market and find homes. Then once these DIY buyers find a home they think they like, at the last minute they try to select an agent often in great haste, to help them move forward on the deal they found before its gone, or worse they become scared or emboldened and take it on themselves to deal directly with the builders agent or listing agent – losing thousands in the process, and who knows what else. February 2017 Update – Trulia reported that Atlanta ranked 3rd in the nation for failed buyer transactions at over 10% of fails for all transaction annually – that’s over 7,000 failed transaction where someone did not know what they were doing!

Problem 7. Most agents don’t have any DIFFERENTIATING value propositions and advantages – thus the vast majority of the public view agents as a commodity – they feel agents are mostly all the same and basically interchangeable (they never saw the Danger Report) – so operating under this flawed assumption too many folks pick their agent simply because they know them from church or they are the neighborhood agent, or because a friend or relative referred the agent – big, big, mistake if you don’t do your own vetting don’t blame anyone else when the wheels fall off!

Problem 8. Most of the public don’t really know how to pick the best agent. Most of the folks who do understand that agents are not the same, and that it’s unwise, even irresponsible to just pick an agent merely because they know them or someone else referred them, often don’t understand how to vet an agent – what criteria to look for and use to determine who really is the best agent…and how to avoid the 80% majority who are so unskilled and incompetent as to be irrelevant, even outright dangerous to your financial health!

Questions? Need an Expert Adviser?  Contact me – Robert Whitfield – 678-585-9691

TRID Rules Now Affect Your Closings


The old familiar HUD 1 is gone!

Things will be different when you go to close your real estate transaction after October 3, 2015.

Specifically, there are rules that amend components of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA) that have been in effect for more than 30 years.

The new rules fulfill a Dodd-Frank Act requirements will combine the two sets of disclosures that consumers receive under the Truth in Lending Act and under the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act in connection with applying for and closing on a mortgage loan.

These new forms use plain language and designed to make it easier for consumers to locate key information such as the interest rate, monthly payments, and the costs to close the loan. And CFPB makes it easier to compare the initial estimate to the final costs.  The resulting disclosure forms under the new rules replace current forms:

  • The new 3 page Loan Estimate replaces the existing Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the early Truth-in-Lending (TIL) disclosures Must be sent to Borrower within 3 days of application.
  • The new 5 page Closing Disclosure replaces the Housing and Urban Development (HUD-1) settlement statement and the final TIL statement  Must be sent to Borrower 3 business days before consummation (in GA the closing).

The CFPB refers to the new disclosure forms referenced above as the “Know Before You Owe” disclosure forms that the consumer must receive 3 days in advance of making key decisions, so they have time to process the deal (terms and conditions) before signing on the dotted line. However, this same “3 day waiting period” can also be the cause closing delays if rules and deadlines are not adhered to and changes are made too late in the process! Certain substantial changes can require new disclosure documents to be issued from the lender – and another 3 day waiting period, which can really mess with your plans in a big way!

UPDATE: The CFPB has recently clarified that certain small changes within a few days of closing, such as the buyer needing to bill the seller a $500 repair cost as a result of findings at the final walk through, will not trigger a required new 3 day waiting period. It’s all about accuracy and timing.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s whole purpose is to ensure that consumers get the information they need to make the financial decisions they believe are best for themselves and their families.

The changes being brought about by the CFPB’s proposed rule integrating mortgage disclosures, service provider bulletin, and the ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage rule should all turn out to be positives for you.

Of course, as with any large-scale change, there will be a learning curve for both you and the companies you’ll interact with in the new mortgage lending environment.

It will now be paramount that all parties agent, buyer, lender, and closing attorneys make a diligent effort to timely respond and forward the necessary documents on time and ideally ahead of time, to assure a smooth and successful closing.

Have questions or need more information – Call me – 678-585-9691 Robert Whitfield

Pope and Walton Housing Markets Blistering

East Cobb’s Blistering Pope and Walton High Housing Markets – Spring/Summer 2015!


Avenue East CobbThis is a look at two of the hottest hyper-local real estate markets in Marietta’s affluent East Cobb community. Market activity in the Pope and Walton High School Districts have been off the charts so far in 2015. (I will be posting about the Lassiter High District in a future edition.) Historically, the markets in East Cobb’s trifecta high school districts, Walton, Pope, and Lassiter have brisk buyer activity starting in early spring around late February to March. From there as buyers jockey for the ideal home in their chosen school system(s) market activity and buyer competition grows stronger each month, month over month until June/July when things peak and gradually start to cool off.

I thought 2014 had some very good numbers, and 2015 has been another good year for me, but I had no idea how good the market itself was overall. While doing some research for a special project I parsed the data in these two highly acclaimed high school systems and uncovered stats for sales through July 15th,  that not only beat 2014’s numbers, but some took me by complete surprise –  and I live and work here every day! It’s one thing to dig up the data on a particular neighborhood where I am listing a home or helping buyer clients get the best price, but it’s another thing to dig up custom highly targeted housing market data on an entire school system – or two! I say custom highly targeted data because this level of data granularity is not available in the monthly MLS market reports I get as a Broker/Owner, and it is not posted on any realtor or public website. This level of detail has to be manually/digitally hand extracted using comprehensive and accurate MLS tax and courthouse data!

So, what surprised me about 2015 Walton and Pope market data? Several things:  1. The percentage  of homes that sold for 98% or better of LP(List Price) – in-fact, the real surprise was the sheer number of homes that sold for 100% (or more) of the List Price! 2. The number of Days on Market (DOM) – historically good average DOM for an East Cobb home in good condition and well marketed are 50-70. Most areas in metro Atlanta have far longer average DOM times than this. In 2014 average DOM in these two East Cobb school districts were an exceptional 45 days or so – very strong. The 2015 Days on Market stats in these two school systems are astounding –  the mid 30’s. That’s very fast – remember we’re not talking about a specific neighborhood micro market stat –  but an entire housing market! But the real surprise – the high percentage of homes that sold in 10 days or less, and the majority number – homes that sold in 30 days or less. I have lived in East Cobb since 1996 and practiced real estate here since 1998 , and I can’t recall such hot overall market numbers.

The Market Study Parameters: Homes Sold May 1 to July 15 and Priced $280K to $2M -Walton & Pope Districts:

The Overall Stats: (more pointed neighborhood level details, and actionable data and trend info on new home subdivision sales stats of various builders, local listing agent and builder agent negotiation performance, and the like are only shared with and used on behalf of our clients)

Walton High District Stats

Sales: 138
Average Days On Market: 37.8 94 properties sold in only 0 to 30 days from the Listing Agreement – only 44 properties required over 30 days for a Binding Sale.
43 properties sold in 10 days or less from the Listing Agreement
List Price vs Sale Price Insights:
-of 138 properties, 100 sold for at least 95% of List Price 69 properties sold for between 98% to *108% of List Price – *a result of multiple offers on some homes and for others, prices were raised in order to provide some buyer closing costs – many of the sales exceeding 100% of List were priced in the same exact amount as the seller paid closing cost listed! -Of the 38 properties that sold for less than 95% of List Price, the average List Price vs Sale Price was 91.39 % of List Price.

Pope High District Stats

Sales: 102
Average Days On Market: 35.7 70 properties sold in only 0 to 30 days from the Listing Agreement – only 32 properties required over 30 days for a Binding Sale.
36 properties sold in 10 days or less from the Listing Agreement
List Price vs Sale Price Insights: Out of 102 properties:
85 sold for at least 95% of List Price 60 properties sold for between 98% to *106% of List Price * a result of multiple offers on some homes and for others, prices were raised on in order to provide some buyer closing costs – many of the sales exceeding 100% of List were priced in the same exact amount as the seller paid closing cost listed!
-Of the 17 properties that sold for less than 95% of List Price, their average List Price vs Sale Price was 90.44% of List Price.

A ton of useful and in a few cases even unexpected information was gleaned and will be used on behalf of our existing and future buyer and seller clients.

A similar study was just completed for the summer/fall market in 2014 to see how that data compares with our projections for the upcoming summer /fall market this year. We are expecting at least equal or better results, and insights into specific agent and builder negotiations will be helpful in moving forward.

Takeaways for Buyers: In these markets, be pre-approved with a lender, be ready to act when the right home is found, and hire the most qualified buyers representative you can find – the agent/Broker you hire will make or break your deal. Contact an experienced buyers representative to partner with early in the process so they can assist and guide you in the right direction for your family’s needs and lifestyle! Too many buyers start out trying to look around on their own and waste a lot of time before calling an expert. You already have a job – trying to learn a new career will not serve you? By “trying to learn the market on your own” you will waste valuable time, look in the wrong places, and ultimately miss out on some great opportunities.

Takeaway for Sellers: To get top dollar and a quick sale, your home needs to be in well maintained condition, and preferably certain updates have been done. Second, hire the best marketing expert you can find- one who can help you not only get your home in the correct shape, help you stage it if necessary, but can prove an exceptional marketing plan and superior exposure and past results for sellers. *There is a huge difference between seller results and the stats high volume listing machine agents like to boast about – such as number of transactions per year – it may sound counterintuitive, but volume only tells how the agent did for themselves – it says nothing about how their seller clients fared!

Contact me for more information about East Cobb homes, schools, or markets.

Robert Whitfield – 678-585-9691

Homestead Exemption for Cobb County Homeowners

Cobb County Homestead Exemption

2014 Cobb County & East Cobb Home Buyers – be sure to file your Homestead Exemption!

If you purchased your home last year and have not already done so, file for your Homestead Exemption by the deadline (April 1 in most counties) – or you won’t get a tax break for another year! Filing a Homestead Exemption can save you thousands of dollars in property taxes! In Georgia a Homestead Exemption must be applied for by the homeowner – it is not automatic and the closing attorney does not file for you at closing. Depending on your county, this can be done online, by fax, by mail or in person – and you can file for homestead exemption year round. You only have to apply for the exemption once and the exemption remains for as long as you reside in the home as your primary residence – however, any change in the name of the homeowner requires a new filing! A Homestead Exemption provides more than just a tax break. It also provides two important protections. It prevents the forced sale of a home to meet the demands of creditors and provides the surviving spouse with shelter. Deadlines are listed below by county along with a link for a homestead application. Applications received after the deadlines will be processed the following year.

Filing for Homestead Exemption

The Homestead Exemption is available to legal residents of Georgia for their primary homes. You are entitled to the Homestead Exemption if you owned and occupied your home on January 1st of the year for which you apply. Senior citizens may have additional exemptions available – check with your county tax office.

Deadline Dates (in parenthesis)

Cherokee County (4/1): 2782 Marietta Highway, Suite 200, Canton 30114 678-493-6120 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.cherokeega.com/Tax-Assessors-Office/

Cobb County (4/1): 736 Whitlock Avenue, Suite 100, Marietta, GA 30064 770-528-8600 M-F 8:30am to 5pm http://www.cobbtax.org/property/exemptions#BasicHomestead

Are you in the City Limits of Marietta? The City of Marietta offers homeowners certain additional Homestead Exemptions in addition to Cobb County Exemptions – see if you qualify: City of Mariettahttp://www.mariettaga.gov/city/cityhall/tax/exemptions

DeKalb County (4/1): 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 100, Decatur, GA 30032 404-298-4000 M-F 8am to 5pm http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/TaxCommissioner/homesteadGen.html

Douglas County (4/1): Douglas County Courthouse, 8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville, GA 30133 770-920-7272 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.douglastaxcommissioner.com/

Forsyth County (4/1): 110 East Main Street, Suite 260, Cumming, GA 30040 770-781-2106 M-F 8:30am to 5pm http://www.qpublic.net/ga/forsyth/homestead.html

Fulton County (4/1): *North Fulton Owners – You may be able to file at one of the Northside annex centers – please check the website for location nearest you. 141 Pryor Street SW, Suite 1047, Atlanta, GA 30303 404-730-4000 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.qpublic.net/ga/fulton/basic_homestead.html

Gwinnett County (4/1): Call for application. 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, GA 30046 770-822-8800 M-F 8:30am to 5pm http://gwinnetttaxcommissioner.manatron.com/Tabs/Property/HomesteadExemption.aspx

Hall County (4/1): 2875 Browns Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30504 770-531-6720 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.hallcounty.org/depts/taxassessor/homestead_exempt_app.asp

Paulding County (4/1): 240 Constitution Boulevard, Dallas, GA 30132 770-443-7606 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.paulding.gov/index.aspx?NID=210

Rockdale County (4/1): 969 Pine Street, Conyers, GA 30012 770-278-7600 M-F 8am to 4:30pm http://www.rockdalecounty.org/main.cfm?id=2985

Walton County (4/1): 303 South Hammond Drive, Walton County Government Building, Monroe, GA 30655 770-267-1335 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.waltoncountytax.com/info#returns

What You Need in Order to File: A copy of the recorded warranty deed, Social Security numbers of all persons on the deed, the mortgage holder, and the amount of the mortgage. Some counties may require a copy of the closing statement (HUD 1) and proof of age for senior citizens.

If your county is not listed, please visit the Ga Dept of Revenue online at: https://etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/county/index.aspx to find information for your county.

Mercedes Benz Relocating To Atlanta

Mercedes Relocation US HQ to Atlanta

In early January Mercedes-Benz USA announced that it will relocate its US corporate headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia, in a move designed to better serve its growing customer base and strengthen the company’s position for long-term, sustainable growth. MBUSA executives and staff will relocate from its primary facility in Montvale, New Jersey, to a temporary facility in Atlanta’s Perimeter Center on an interim basis. Mercedes plans to begin relocating employees to Atlanta starting in July 2015. The company will construct a new, state-of-the-art headquarters expected to be completed in early 2017. Word from commercial real estate sources are that Mercedes has several sites under consideration near Sandy Springs and along the GA 400 corridor in North Fulton County. The move will affect approximately 1,000 employees now living in New Jersey, and will be phased to help minimize any disruption to business operations.

As Mercedes USA CEO Steve Cannon explains, there are a number of good reasons for the company’s relocation to Atlanta.

“Atlanta is a premier city which places us closer to our ever-growing Southeast customer base, our port in Brunswick, Georgia, and to Mercedes-Benz US International, our Alabama manufacturing facility, which accounts for half of the vehicles we sell here in the US,” Cannon said in a statement. “For our employees, Atlanta offers a strong quality of life, terrific schools and wonderful cultural and recreational opportunities.”

North Atlanta Specialty Broker, Robert Whitfield of Advantage Realtors said he has already received inquiries from several Mercedes employees who are trying to become familiar with North Atlanta’s better neighborhood options in which to establish new roots. Most families priorities are excellent schools, a reasonable commute, and nicer neighborhoods offering newer homes and good recreational amenities like pools, tennis, and even golf.

Based on the locations under consideration for Mercedes new headquarters, Marietta’s affluent East Cobb community would be an excellent location for relocating Mercedes employees to consider. East Cobb offers easy access and close proximity to the Sandy Springs and GA 400 corridor areas, along with East Cobb’s top public schools, high home value retention and excellent quality of life. Other good neighborhood options are Roswell, Alpharetta, and Milton in North Fulton. Sandy Springs and Dunwoody are other possible options, though families with children should know both have somewhat weaker public school systems and feeders than East Cobb and North Fulton communities.

Mercedes expects to provide additional detail on its relocation plans by the end of January.

Mercedes employees needing more information and unmatched relocation assistance are welcome to contact Robert Whitfield at 678-585-9691.

Atlanta Buyer Activity Trends

ATL Sold Trends 2006 to Oct 2014The above graph of Atlanta Single Family Home Sold Volume is both shocking and telling for Buyers and Sellers. It is shocking because the yearly trend line patterns for Atlanta Sold Volume Activity – which is driven by buyers – has been remarkably consistent for the last nine years from 2006 to October 2014  – even including the “market downturn years” 2007-2011!

The Golden Nugget for Buyers – your competition for the best homes starts early – and that means so should you! Starting in January, more and more buyers enter the market each week, month over month, until activity peaks in June – by June, many of the choicest homes in the best school districts are bought up! That is why you should always retain a skilled buyers expert to represent and assist you as early as possible – even if you’re only in the looking stages! An expert can help you do your neighborhood and homework research far better than you can own your own – so you can hit the ground running when its time to buy! If you haven’t found a home to close on by June, you will have slimmer pickings and extreme competition as unsuccessful buyers and late arrival relocation buyers all jockey and compete to locate and purchase the remaining better homes before school starts in August!

The Golden Nugget for Sellers – there are actually two. 1. Home Sellers DO NOT want to “wait until March or April” to make your home ready and get it “Listed in Spring” – by then you have missed a ton of buyers! I suggest sellers shoot to be on the market in January or early February. 2. If things have prevented you from being ready to list until September or October- do it! If you’re already on the market in September or October, even though showings have probably slowed, stay on the market! (Caveat – hire an agent with a better marketing plan if you have been listed since Spring or early summer)! Autumn is slower, but note the volume bounce that happens in November almost every year – that is the start of good things to come! Buyers out looking during the holidays are usually very serious. Homes do sell during the holidays – I have sold many homes around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays!

Are you a Buyer or Seller with Market or Timing Questions – call Robert 678-585-9691!