Jean Chatzky
For many people, a home is the biggest investment they'll ever make—which makes staying informed about the housing market all the more important. Jean talks with Gerri Willis, anchor of CNN's weekend business program Open House, about her tips for taking on today's housing market, whether you're already a homeowner or looking to buy.

If you're a homeowner:
  • Be careful about how much more money you put into this investment. Don't spend more than 20 percent of the value on your home on improvements, Gerri says.
  • Make home improvements that will appeal to lots of people. Avoid unusual decorating themes or additions.
If you're a homebuyer:
  • Do your homework. Get recent numbers, as some markets are changing fast, and talk to a real estate agent about deals, Gerri says.
  • Consider hiring a buyer's agent to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Shop around for a loan. Gerri says to start with a local bank where they won't sell your loan and will "treat you like a real person."
  • "Old-fashioned" loans are a safe bet. "A 30-year fixed rate loan is probably what you want to look at," Gerri says.
  • Don't overbuy. Do not spend more than a third of your income on housing, Gerri says.