The biggest factor outside of a homeowner's 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 twice in recent history in the early 1970s and the late 1980s. However, single-family homes appreciated much more than condominiums. While overall market conditions are out of the homeowner's control, other factors are not.
For example, specific home improvements can increase the value above the cost of the improvements. According to Remodeling magazine's 1995-96 Cost vs.Value remodeling report, a bathroom remodeled returns 81 percent to the owner, a bathroom addition, 89 percent and a master bedroom suite, 82 percent.
Remember, quality pays. Well-planned and executed remodeling jobs are a good investment while bad work seldom enhances value or livability.
Homeowners living in high-crime areas have organized community watch programs, which not only lower the crime rate and rid a neighborhood of graffiti but also have been known to enhance property values.