Though you can’t control the ups and downs of the housing market, you can take steps to steady your home’s value and overall condition. First and foremost, stay on top of basic maintenance chores , because neglecting the little things can lead to big expenses later on. From there, consider improvements carefully and spend your time and money on the most cost-effective of the bunch. Generally, that means avoiding anything that’s too dramatic a change, too personalized to appeal to the general home-buying public, or reconfigurations that subtract precious living or storage space. Before making a move toward the local home improvement center, be sure to browse Remodeling Online’s Cost vs. Value Report , which provides recent data on popular improvements and corresponding costs recouped, according to U.S. region.