Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spring Fling Home Maintenance Tip: Fire up those Sprinklers!

We had a record winter of snowfall and moisture accumulation in the Treasure Valley, so now what do we do?


Some recent “sprinkler experiences” reminded me of how important this outdoor chore is in the springtime. First case in point, we had a client ready to sell a 5-year-old home. The buyer had an inspection and next thing we knew, bad siding appeared on the repair list. The cause of this extremely expensive ordeal was the consistent spraying from the sprinklers on the side of the home behind some bushes. The siding was a wood/fiber product, and it absorbed and rotted in place.

The first way to prevent water in unwanted places is to ensure any flower beds surrounding the home have a wide enough space between them and the home to allow you to walk behind any plants. You may also seriously consider using a drip line to water your plants, rather than individual sprinklers. This will send water down into the soil rather than into the air and onto your home. Sprinklers set too close to the home can also be a primary source of water getting into your crawlspace.

The next thing to do is ensure you have the correct spray heads on your sprinklers and that the coverage is set according to the space it should be watering. This is certainly not a one-sprinkler-fits-all situation. You will want to walk your yard each season with the sprinklers on to check these, and adjust or replace any that aren’t doing their job correctly. The amount of water used when watering your yard is essential to landscape growing success, whether you’re using metered water or pressurized irrigation.

Article by Gary Salisbury, Equity Northwest Real Estate.

Build Your Own Wealth: Own a Home

It's all in the numbers. See how you can grow your wealth by owning a home instead of throwing your money away on rent each month.

Just say NO to Zestimates!

Homeowner sues Zillow, says ‘Zestimate’ is nonsense

It was bound to happen: A homeowner has filed suit against online realty giant Zillow, claiming the company’s controversial “Zestimate” tool repeatedly undervalued her home, creating a “tremendous road block” to its sale.

The suit, which may be the first of its kind, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by a Glenview, Illinois, real estate lawyer, Barbara Andersen. The suit alleges that despite Zillow’s denial that Zestimates constitute “appraisals,” the fact that they offer market value estimates and “are promoted as a tool for potential buyers to use in assessing [the] market value of a given property,” meets the definition of an appraisal under state law. Not only should Zillow be licensed to perform appraisals before offering such estimates, the suit argues, but it should obtain “the consent of the homeowner” before posting them online for everyone to see.

In an interview, Andersen told me she is considering bringing the issue to the Illinois state attorney general because it affects all owners in the state. She has also been approached about turning the matter into a class action, which could touch millions of owners across the country.

In the suit, Andersen said that she has been trying to sell her townhouse, which overlooks a golf course and is in a prime location, for $626,000 — roughly what she paid for it in 2009. Homes directly across the street, but with greater square footage, sell for $100,000 more, according to her court filing. But Zillow’s automated valuation system has apparently used sales of newly constructed houses from a different and less costly part of town as comparables in valuing her townhouse, she says. The most recent Zestimate is for $562,000. Andersen is seeking an injunction against Zillow and wants the company to either remove her Zestimate or amend it. For the time being she is not seeking monetary damages, she told me.

Emily Heffter, a spokeswoman for Zillow, dismissed Andersen’s litigation as “without merit.” A publicly traded real estate marketing company based in Seattle, Zillow has been offering Zestimates since 2006. Currently it provides them for upward of 110 million houses — whether for sale or not. Type in almost any home’s street address and you’ll likely get a property description and a Zestimate. The value estimates are based on public records and other data using “a proprietary formula,” according to Zillow.

The Zestimate feature is the cornerstone of Zillow’s business model since it pulls in millions of home shoppers, allowing the company to sell advertising space to realty agents. Zillow makes big money with the help of its Zestimates: In the first quarter of this year, it reported $245.8 million in revenues — a 32 percent jump over the year before — including $175 million in payments from “premier” agents, who pay for advertising.

But there’s a flip side to Zestimates. Home owners, realty agents and appraisers have been critical for years about the valuation tool, citing estimates that too often are far off the mark — sometimes 20 percent or 30 percent too low or too high — and misleading to consumers. Zillow itself acknowledges errors. Nationwide, according to Heffter, it has a median error rate of 5 percent. Zestimates are within 5 percent of the sale price 53.9 percent of the time, within 10 percent 75.6 percent of the time and within 20 percent 89.7 percent of the time, Zillow claims.

A Zestimate “is not an appraisal,” the company says on its website, but instead is “Zillow’s estimated market value” using its proprietary formula. Another way of looking at the Zestimate error rate: Roughly one quarter of the time, the value estimate is off by 10 percent or more of the selling price, and wrong by 20 percent or more 10 percent of the time. Though the 5 percent median error rate sounds modest, when computed against median sales prices, the errors can translate into tens of thousands of dollars — hundreds of thousands in high cost areas. Also in some counties, error rates zoom beyond the 5 percent median — 33.9 percent, for example, in Ogle County, Illinois, and 10 percent to 20 percent in a handful of counties in Ohio, Maryland, Florida, Oklahoma and Illinois.

Some appraisers are cheering Andersen’s suit and welcomed the idea of state-by-state legal challenges. “They’ve been playing appraiser without being licensed for years and doing a bad job,” said Pat Turner, a Richmond, Virginia, appraiser. “It’s about time they got called on it.”

Article from Miami Herald.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Who Benefits from your Rent Payments?

Renting can be a frustrating thing, but when you learn on top of it how much money it's costing you in the long run, I'd say that makes things a bit more frustrating. See how renting vs. owning compares in these situations and see if you have the same outlook on renting afterward.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It's May 10th!

It's May 10th...do you know what that means? It's time to start planting your garden, Treasure Valley! According to our trusted source, Nolan Guthrie with Zamzows, once May 10th approaches, we are safe to start planting in the area. Another way to tell is by looking up to Bogus Basin. If you don't see any more snow, then you are definitely good to go!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Preventing Snow Mold

Snow Mold

Having been one of the snowiest winters in history, Idaho lawns will have some rare issues to deal with this spring. In this article, I’d like to address Snow Mold. This fungus presents unique problems for the lawn that are difficult to treat, however, very easy to prevent.

What is Snow Mold?

Snow Mold occurs when the soil temperatures rise above freezing and there is still a lot of snow and ice sitting on top of the lawn. This creates a unique situation where the soil and grass begin to grow and do its normal “spring” stuff. However, the ice above it melts slowly and will cause molding and decomposition. Once the snow finally melts completely off the lawn, there will be large patches of dead grass. Sometimes you may even see the mold growing throughout the dead grass as white or pinkish strands. 

Treatment and Prevention

Unlike other lawn diseases, Snow Mold is not infectious. It is a product of the conditions in the lawn i.e. unfrozen soil and excess snow and ice. This makes chemical controls difficult. The key to stopping Snow Mold is reducing the amount of snow and ice sitting on top of the lawn. Snow Mold will most often appear around the edges of your lawn. Mainly from under the piles of snow you have shoveled off your sidewalks and driveways. Those areas are more susceptible because the middle of the lawn will melt faster, and the soil underneath will begin to warm up. It is at that time you have a great chance to prevent Snow Mold from damaging the lawn. As the snow begins to melt, use a shovel to begin breaking up the larger piles of snow. Spreading out the piles, will speed up the thaw overall and prevent the conditions favorable to Snow Mold. 


Like you, I live in the real world and understand that sometimes life just gets in the way of our best intentions. If you aren’t able to get to this, you may end up with some dead areas that will need to be fixed in the spring. Zamzows has a number of solutions to help your lawn recover. The first step will be to remove any dead material. This will physically remove any of the growing molds. It is very likely you will need to reseed these areas. After sowing Zamzows lawn Seed top dress with some planting soil. Applying Zamzows Thrive (@1cup/gallon) will kick start the soil and help your seed come in faster and stronger.