It is no secret. 2010 was a hard year for home values. According to Zillow.com, homes were expected to lose $1.7 trillion in value. This is an even greater loss than what was seen in 2009.

They report that “the bulk of the total value lost during 2010 was in the second half of the year. From January to June, the housing market lost $680 billion. From June to December, Zillow projects residential home value losses will top $1 trillion.”

Some of the largest losses in value were seen in the West. Los Angeles’ values fell by $38,000 over the course of 2010. And they are down a whopping $676,000 from the peak in the second quarter of 2006. Phoenix, Arizona, saw values falls by $36,000 in 2010. This is down $222,000 from peak times.

There were exceptions to this loss trend. The Boston metropolitan statistical area (MSA) gained $10.8 billion in value, while the San Diego MSA gained $10.2 billion.

Now, while you cannot protect yourself against market corrections such as these, you can take small steps to help increase your home’s value and make it more marketable. The following tips are meant to inspire and motivate you to treat your home like the investment it was meant to be.

1. Make Repairs: Homes require regular maintenance and repairs are a necessary component of homeownership. Procrastination gets you nowhere when it comes to home value. Stay on top of repairs as they are needed. And be sure to address large projects before placing your home on the market. For example, roofs are expensive to replace or repair. Many buyers will pass up your otherwise wonderful home when faced with roof issues.

2. Curb Appeal: Curb appeal is about first impressions. It is also about neighborhood values. Drive down a street lined with manicured lawns and well-maintained homes and the values are sure to reflect the care their owners take. On the other hand, streets with overgrown trees, junky yards, and chipped and faded paint are fighting an uphill battle in the values game.

3. Community Involvement: The classic quote from Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu says, “A journey of 1,00 miles begins with a single step.” This is especially true for improving the health and wealth of a community. Change starts with yourself. By becoming an active member of your community, you can inspire the change you desire. Family, friends, and neighbors will follow your lead of civic duty. How can you get involved? Run for city council, join the PTA, volunteer, and help organize fund raisers and events that inspire community togetherness.

4. Updated Kitchen: Kitchens are a real selling point. Outdated cabinets, counters, and appliances will stick out like a sore thumb to buyers. Be sure, however, that you research your comparables before beginning a remodel. You don’t want to price yourself out of the running. This means if while you love granite and travertine, other homes in your area are selling with laminate, you will probably not be able to ask for a drastically higher price that covers the price of the granite.

5. Updated Bath: Bathrooms also hold much of a home’s value. New low-flush toilets cost as little as $100. And tubs and showers can be easily replaced or resurfaced. Be sure, above all else, that your bathrooms are clean for showings.

6. Energy Savers: Buyers are looking for homes that are energy efficient. Low-flush toilets, solar panels, water filtrations systems, and insulated windows are all inexpensive fixes for energy zappers.

Consider these simple tips and decide for yourself what may help your home retain its value.

http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20110209_value.htm

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