|But HGTV has some answers - at least for a few lucky metro Detroiters.
The network paid a visit this month to four Detroit-area homes that will be featured on its show "My House Is Worth What?" The HGTV program follows local real estate experts as they help homeowners estimate the market value of their homes.
Two houses in Detroit's Indian Village, a home in Southfield and one in Royal Oak were filmed for episodes that are to air in the spring. The new episodes are to air at 7 p.m. Sundays and at 11 p.m. Tuesdays. HGTV selected Detroit because it wanted to show a good cross-section of cities across the country.
"With the current state of the economy we wanted to show homeowners the best improvements they can make to increase their homes' value," said Holly Schwartz, segment producer for the show. "A lot of press about the real estate market in Detroit has been glum, but there are things people can do to keep their home's value in check."
Hair stylist and interior designer Rodney Howell, 46, is among those to be featured. He said he is excited HGTV picked his Southfield home - and Detroit.
"I was so happy when they contacted me because they wanted to feature Detroit. It was a really good opportunity to get a good light on Detroit," said Howell, whose house was chosen because of its artistic design.
Howell's house has an open feel with a two-story living room, tall doors, vaulted ceilings and unique colors and textures on the walls. He is the first owner of the 9-year-old, 1,850-square-foot colonial, which he purchased for $216,000. The home has three bedrooms, four bathrooms, two fireplaces, a first-floor laundry room, a deck and an attached two-car garage.
Howell has made improvements, including finishing the basement, adding marble to the foyer and putting glass art in the entryway.
Joy Santiago, a real estate broker and owner of Dwellings Unlimited in Southfield, said Howell was a good fit for the show because of his home's style and his outgoing personality. The show found Santiago, a longtime friend of Howell's, on her Web site (www.differentdwellings.com) in May.
"I did the audition tape, and they liked my spirit and energy," said Howell, who regularly hosts parties at his house. "They told me to send in a head shot and resume for a possible show."
"He was a natural choice," said Santiago, 40.
As part of the show, HGTV experts tour the homes, evaluating the positive and negative features and assessing whether renovations have increased the value. Experts also offer advice on potential remodeling projects that might help boost the price of the house.
Howell hopes to downsize to a condo if his home is valued at at least $280,000. It appraised at $295,000 three years ago.
Santiago said spectacular lighting, decor and newer construction are good points about Howell's home. However, its location on a main road and needed kitchen upgrades may affect the home's value.
Other homes to be featured:
*An ultracontemporary 1,700-square-foot, two-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath, two-story condo in Royal Oak. It has a wraparound deck and was purchased three years ago for $550,000. The owner wants to know whether she would get her money back if $5,000 were put into the deck. A landscaper was interviewed to show what he would do for $5,000 to improve the value and make it more inviting, Santiago said. The owner plans to add shrubs and other vegetation to the deck.
*A 3,600-square-foot house in Detroit's Indian Village. The owners have done extensive renovations to the five-bedroom, 31/2 -bath home. They want to determine whether they are on track and not overspending.
*A 6,000-square-foot house, also in Indian Village. The owner wants to know whether it's better to do a basement or a bathroom and bedroom renovation to lift the value of the five-bedroom home.
What's being evaluated
Southfield: This 1999 two-story home is 1,850 square feet, has three bedrooms and four baths.
Royal Oak: This 2005 loft is 1,700 square feet, has two bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.
Indian Village: This 1911 colonial is 6,000 square feet, has five bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths.
Indian Village: This 1901 Tudor is 3,600 square feet, has five bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms.
Contact BRENDEL HIGHTOWER at 313-222-8776 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANDRE J. JACKSON / Detroit Free Press
HGTV producer Kristina Djokic, right, readies Rodney Howell and real estate agent Joy Santiago for filming at Howell's Southfield home.
ANDRE J. JACKSON / Detroit Free Press
Producer Kristina Djokic, 33, and cameraman Paul Lenzi of Lake Orion film at Rodney Howell's home in Southfield.
CAPTIONWRITER: Rodney Howell added improvements such as glass art in the entryway and marble floors to the foyer of his colonial-style Southfield home.
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