Home prices are still falling across South Florida, and experts predict that will continue for most or all of 2011.
You can't change that, but you can do your part to preserve your home's value, said Gerri Willis, who hosts The Willis Report on Fox Business Network. The program focuses on consumer and personal finance issues.
Willis used to host CNN's Open House and is the author of Home Rich: Increasing the Value of the Biggest Investment of Your Life.
1. Be informed about your market. Real estate is local, obviously, so you can't assume your friend's home in the next town or the next county is worth as much as yours. Work with an agent or do your own research, but get accurate prices and information.
2. Don't over-improve. In other words, don't renovate your house to a level that far exceeds other homes in the neighborhood. If you do, you probably won't see the value in those improvements when it comes time to sell.
3. Rally the neighbors. Urge them to maintain their homes as nicely as you do yours and talk to them about how that helps everyone. At his Lauderhill condominium complex, Sid Schulman publicly posted the names of owners delinquent on their maintenance fees. It's an extreme example, of course, and while Schulman won't be winning any Neighbor of the Year contests, he at least showed that he cares about preserving values, Willis said.
4. Get involved. Organize a neighborhood watch. Or volunteer to mow the unruly grass of a foreclosed home. "You have to be willing to go that extra step," Willis said.
5. Be patient. As bleak as things appear now, especially for those who are "underwater" on their mortgages, it won't always be that way. Be willing to wait this out, if at all possible