If you’re reading this article then chances are you’re a homeowner or someone who’s about to buy a home. There’s also a good chance that you’re a regular person, which means that there’s nothing you can do to change the state of the housing market. The economy is slowly crawling toward some kind of recovery, but for some people it’s still a dark time to own a home. There’s still a fissure in the housing market. Though there’s no magic spell that’s going to shoo the doom and gloom away, this post aims to offer a little hope and some things to look forward to.

Your Investment

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Whether you plan on staying in your home for the longer haul or selling and moving out in the near future, there’s no question that your home is likely your largest asset. Even if you’ve only been in your home for a week, you’ve put a ton of time, sweat and money into it already. You’re invested financially, emotionally, physically and mentally. Even when there’s a cloud over your head about a mortgage payment or the value of your home, take solace in that piece of real estate—it’s your own personal refuge for as long as you’re there, and it’s just as good as you’re willing to make it.

Sell or Stay?

If you’re in a career that might require you to move within the next five years, chances are you’re looking at your home as a short term investment. That’s just fine. If that’s the case, make sure you’re not making any home improvements that won’t increase the home’s actual value. Any improvement you make that increases your home’s energy efficiency will give you a relatively high return on whatever money you put into it, so focus on that.

If you plan on staying in your home, realize that continually fixing it up and improving it is cheaper than trading up to a “better” home. After all, your home is what you make it. Contractors are much more affordable now than they were before the bubble burst and a little hard work can go a long way.

Concrete Tips

If your home is your investment, it’s something you continually need to put some time and money into. Right now is a great time to do that, provided that you stick to some basics and always do your research.

  • Stick to mid-range remodels. Extravagant remodels are likely going to lose you money.
  • Remodel your kitchen or bathroom, and keep it to what you can afford. A little bit goes a long way. Be creative.
  • If you can afford it, get a contractor. Take different bids and hold out until you find the right person with the right price. Times are tough and even the best contractors in the industry can be had for great prices right now.
  • Think Green: replace drafty windows, invest in energy efficient appliances and work on your insulation.
  • Stay practical. While remaking your basement into a Zen dojo with a rock garden might seem appealing, it’s probably not an investment that’s going to pay off financially.

There is Hope

Your home is your biggest investment, even if it’s one you’re planning on leaving soon. If that’s the case, there’s a good chance you’ll settle into a home for the long haul at some point in your life. When times are tough like they are now, remember that real estate value goes through a cycle of ups and downs. The reason that older people consider their homes a great investment is that they have stayed in them for 30 or more years, surviving the rises and falls in value. The market will eventually recover, stabilize and then take a dip before doing it all again. The home you settle into for 30 or more years will become your biggest, most glittering asset if you’re willing to weather the storm and keep it well maintained. If your home is a place you’re proud to own, a place you’re continually improving and a place you’re happy to live then it is a sound investment.

Tim Richmond is a passionate blogger who writes about the economy, finance, home ownership and the Section 184 Loan Program for Native American Tribal Members. He is an online publisher for 1Tribal.com.

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