How you feel about today’s somewhat positive housing news depends if you’re buying, selling or staying—and where you live. If you obsessively check Zillow to see if the value of your house is going up or down, maybe it’s time to stop the madness and take stock of the condition of your homestead. Whatever the state of the market, there are things you can do to maintain, or even boost, your home equity.
For the first time in nearly a year, home prices actually went up in most major cities according to the latest Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index. The oft-quoted guide reported a .07-percent rise overall in the sales price of existing U.S. homes from March to April, reflecting gains in 13 of the 20 cities tracked—with Washington leading the way, followed by San Francisco, Atlanta, and Seattle.
Time to break open the champagne? That depends on your outlook. If it’s glass half empty, you’ll recall that March saw home prices decline back to where they were in 2002. More foreclosures are in the works. Home prices are still in the cellar in Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami and Tampa. And consumer confidence fell to a seven-month low in June amid a sluggish recovery and high unemployment. Glass half full? Well, San Francisco’s increase is the second straight monthly gain. Home sales have been reported above last year’s. And Freddie Mac’s chief economist predicts a slow but solid improvement in the next year.
With such glimmers of hope, it may be time to consider some home improvements ranging from a paint job to a kitchen renovation. Whatever you choose to do, Consumer Reports has the Ratings and Recommendations to help including:
Interior and exterior paint