Allen Norwood

Zillow offers ‘Zestimates’ of your home’s value

Lots of us poke around on Zillow, checking out the “Zestimates” of home values. It’s addictive. If you’re serious about selling, though, you might want to check out a new online tool that lets you plug in additional information to create a more complete – and private – calculation of your own home’s value.

The tool, announced last month, starts with the Zestimate, then allows you to tweak it by personally selecting comparable for-sale and recently sold homes.

You can double-check facts in the Zestimate – the square footage of your home, for instance – and correct them if necessary. Then choose from a list of for-sale and recently sold homes that are most like your own. You can include homes that have the same features and are in the same condition.

Then, Zillow will provide a private estimate of your home’s value.

Go to, call up a Zestimate of your home’s value, then scroll down to “Price This Home.”

Zillow offers estimated values on 100 million homes in more than 450 markets across the country. The accuracy depends on the quality and availability of data in any area, of course. How accurate? Well, Zillow says the national median error rate is 7.9 percent – but Charlotte’s is better, at 7.6 percent.

Joy at Macy’s

Well, that didn’t take long....

Macy’s this week announced that, beginning Saturday, it will sell the Joy brand of innovative home products.

Joy – as in the character Jennifer Lawrence plays in the new movie of the same name. Joy Mangano is the creative force behind such products as the Miracle Mop, MemoryCloud Pillow, Huggable Hangers and My Little Steamer. It probably won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it to reveal that it focuses on her efforts to promote the Miracle Mop.

Macy’s said Mangano holds more than 100 patents and trademarks. Prices for the collection begin at $29.99, and will be available in Macy’s stores and on

Replace those batteries

The temperature dipped to 22 degrees at our house this week, providing a brisk reminder to take care of the cold-weather chores before the seriously bitter stuff arrives. Set ceiling fans to blow upward, if you use them in the winter. That will push the warm air across the ceiling and down the walls – not down the back of your neck. If you have a well, be sure the well cover is firmly seated to prevent freezing. I replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms this time of year. (And learned the hard way that the CO alarm will scream in the middle of the night if I ignore that battery too long. Don’t do that.)

Now, it’s woodpeckers

No more squirrel stories for a while, but a reader wanted to know what to do about a nuisance woodpecker. I’ve wrestled with that one in columns over the years.

Woodpeckers peck or “drum” to attract mates, or to go after insects. Here are some solutions that have worked for other readers.

Nixalite ( makes an array of products to deter critters of all kinds, including woodpeckers. Some readers said they had good luck with Ro-Pel, a bitter solution designed to deter gnawing animals, including squirrels. Woodpeckers don’t like it, either.

Feather dusters mounted in the eaves of the house will keep woodpeckers away, readers have said. The dusters resemble hawks and other birds of prey. A 3-inch red triangle near the drumming site might work. The theory is that it looks like the cockade of a GIANT woodpecker.

Allen Norwood: