Question:   How can I improve the value of my property?

Answer:   The biggest factor outside of a homeowners control is market conditions. But other issues -- including the condition of the property, specific home improvements and neighborhood stability and safety -- can influence property values.

The greatest rise in home prices occurs when the economy is strong and the number of home sales is increasing. Though markets vary, that has occurred several times in recent history -- including the early 1970s, late 1980s and late 1990s.

Specific home improvements can increase the value above the cost of the improvements. According to Remodeling magazine, which publishes an annual "Cost vs. Value" remodeling report, a remodeled bathroom returns 81 percent to the owner, a bathroom addition, 89 percent and a master bedroom suite, 82 percent. Remember, quality pays. Well-planned and well-executed remodeling jobs are a good investment while bad work seldom enhances value or livability.

The safety and security of a neighborhood can affect property values, too. If you live in a high-crime area, an organized community watch program not only will lower the crime rate but give home values a boost, too.




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