Four out of 5 Americans believe owning a home is a good investment, according to a July poll commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Additional NAHB research shows that homeowners are keeping remodelers busy, and that new home sales are at their highest level since 2008.

While all of that is good news for the housing market, it can be really great news for the individual homeowner—as long as they enter the world of renovating and selling thoughtfully. For those who aren’t quite sure how to approach a home remodel or sale, though, HGTV’s the Property Brothers are here to help.

NOT FOR GRANITE:  With homes, the Property Brothers advise sellers to pay special attention to a buyer's favorites—the kitchen, the bathroom, and the curb appeal, and advise buyers and renovators to plan ahead.

Winging it is expensive

According to Jonathan Scott, planning and budgeting in advance of a remodeling project is key for both budget and satisfaction. “The most important piece of advice we give to first time renovators is to plan ahead and talk to professionals,” says Jonathan. “The worst thing you can do is to start without setting a budget and assume that you can do everything yourself.”

He adds that it’s key for home renovators to, “Ask how your family will use the property, and make sure every aspect of the renovation has been considered. Last minute add-ons cost way more than planning in advance.”

Moreover, Scott contends that while it’s great when homeowners want to get their hands dirty, some things are better left to the pros, especially if they aren’t experts in areas like electrical, plumbing and structural engineering. “Sure, we want them to save money where they can,” he reasons, “but safety is always top priority.”

“‘The worst thing you can do is to start without setting a budget and assume that you can do everything yourself.’”

Acting early is cost-effective

Of course, not all home improvements are cosmetic, and maintenance is crucial to keeping a home a castle. For example, Scott says, a penetration in the exterior can lead to rodents, chewed wires and a fire hazard: “The biggest myth is that if you don't fix a small problem today, it'll cost the same to fix it tomorrow. That’s wrong, because a small drip can lead to mold, rot and major moisture problems. Always fix any issues as you find them.”

There are many projects weekend warriors can take on that will help spruce up their space, and Scott says that when a house lacks wow-factor, focusing on one area can have a noticeable impact. For example, painting one wall a bold color and accenting that area with furnishings that tie into the rest of the room; adding a modern light fixture with chrome and crystals, or simply replacing boring cabinet hardware with ones that have fresh character are easy projects that can give a home an instant facelift.

Buyers need to be smitten

Most homebuyers are picky about kitchens and bathrooms, so Scott says it’s almost always wise to invest in these big-ticket rooms. “Always ensure these areas look good, and that they are always clean when a buyer walks through,” Scott says.

For example, he adds, many sellers forget about sprucing up their granite and marble. “You can easily reseal the countertop yourself, and it will stain if you don’t.” And marble should be sealed every 1 to 3 months, granite every 4 to 6. Quartz is a new favorite, he points out, in part because you never have to reseal it.

While kitchens and bathrooms are key, specialty rooms can also add value to a home. Scott says, “A home theater room, game area or even an outdoor living space—anything you can do to give a family options at home for entertainment is great.”

Curb appeal really matters

According to Scott, “Curb appeal cleanliness is by far the most important thing for buyers” and much of it doesn’t cost a lot of money. For example, cutting the lawn, trimming the hedges and adding a little bit of color with shrubs and florals goes a long way for buyers. Larger projects are also worthwhile for some do-it-yourselfers, however, like painting the front door or putting down a walking path with paving stones.”

Going one step further, Scott says sellers should know that buyers always look at the roof when they walk up to ensure there are no potential problems. “Make sure trees are trimmed back, gutters are cleared and any missing shingles are replaced. If you fix it now, it won't cost much.

“If a buyer reduces their offer,” Scott contends, “it will cost you thousands.”