Couple sitting on floor smiling in front of partially painted wall in home.We all love our homes, but after living in it for several years, wear and tear normally begins to show up. Even unoccupied houses become worn down. Over time many events can detract from the value of the structure, which is why it is important to counteract these effects.

As homeowners, you should work to keep your house in order to protect the biggest investment you’ll probably ever make. Basic repairs, as well as a little spit and polish, can protect your home from losing value. Updating your home and looking out for problem properties in your neighborhood also can help make a difference in your property’s value as well. Ask real estate professionals such as sales agents and inspectors to help you find ways to improve your home’s value.

Here are some steps to maintain, and even increase your home’s value:

Maintenance
Taking routine care of your home is the most important move you can make to protect its value. The National Association of Realtors recommends you set aside up to $500 a month to save for big repairs, such as roof, plumbing and electrical problems, all of which hurt your home’s worth. Plus, keeping up with minor fixes can prevent major problems. Weatherproofing, cleaning gutters and replacing broken roof tiles or shingles stop water damage and other structural issues. If you skimp on maintenance, it can greatly affect a home’s resale value.

Curb Appeal
Cosmetics play a role in your home’s value. Dirty siding, loose railings and broken light fixtures could all affect value. An unkempt exterior can make potential buyers wonder what else you haven’t maintained. A fresh coat of paint to replace peeling areas, or even a power-washing to spruce up exterior walls, can help keep up your home’s value. Landscaping is a major part of curb appeal as well. A healthy lawn and trimmed trees boost aesthetics, and good aesthetics reflect the care you take as a homeowner.

Upgrades
A big share of your home’s value is in its kitchen and bathrooms. Outdated appliances and old cabinets and countertops can eat away at worth. Older, inefficient water fixtures and appliances also hurt. Energy-saving refrigerators and dishwashers can update your home. Be careful about assumptions on how much value renovations will bring. The National Association of Realtors says remodeling adds value equal to about 80 percent of the improvement, on average. Upgrades can maintain your home’s value, but they may not boost it.

Repainting

A coat of paint on both on the interior and exterior of your home is one of the easiest way to give your home a fresh, well-maintained appearance for little investment. Several factors (such as climate and whether or not you have small children or pets) influence how often you will need to repaint your home’s interior walls, but as a general rule of thumb it should be done every five years. Painting the ceiling can also brighten up a room quickly and make it look more attractive. A home’s exterior generally needs to be repainted less often than the interior, perhaps every ten years or so.

By following these tips, you can maintain your house clean, attractive and fresh. In case you decide to sell, you won’t have problems with higher asking price or finding the perfect buyer.