If you want to preserve and enhance the value of your house, buy in an area where the demand for housing likely will remain robust. Look for convenient access to shopping and transportation. If you buy where there’s an active neighborhood association that enforces a code, it’s less likely that your neighbors’ actions will reduce your home’s value.

Another way to increase your home’s resale price is by making major improvements. Bathroom improvements tend to rate the highest, in terms of payback.

However, it’s the quality of the home improvements, not the category, that add the most value. Buyers today know what they should look for when they shop for a home. It pays to go for top quality with home improvements because your own lifestyle will be enhanced, while you’re in the house, and the resale value will increase.

* Built-in additions are preferable to anything movable. Consider built-ins for kitchen appliances, bookshelves, bench decks, and home theater systems.

* Don’t put bars on your windows. That may detract from a home’s value. Instead, install a sophisticated home security system connected to a central station, which will call the police in case of an emergency.

While high-tech security systems have their place, don’t neglect low-tech protection. Your house should have working fire extinguishers and high-quality locks. However, if you install great locks on bad doors, you’re just wasting money on locks. Make sure that all of your external doors are solid wood.

* Cultivate curb appeal. Your home’s exterior should create a desire to own the home so it’s vital not to skip regular paint jobs and yard work. Edging your lawn, mulching, and planting some shrubs are all worthwhile activities. Use year-round grass in your yard and pay attention to items visitors can see, such as your garage door.

* Contract with care. Inside or out, you likely will have to hire contractors for your home improvements, and that can be a chancy business. Your best bet is to ask friends or neighbors for referrals to workers who have provided satisfaction.

* Don’t stint on routine care. Make sure that your plumbing, your electrical system, and your roof are in excellent condition. Once those basics are in place, you can move onto other projects, such as stripping and re-finishing hardwood floors.