Real estate truths you won't learn from HGTV

HGTV may be the most popular source of real estate know-how in the country, and I'm a big fan: The shows are entertaining, and often a source of good ideas.

I recently watched HGTV's one-hour special Buying & Selling: 20 Best-Kept Secrets. While "price your home right" and "de-personalize" hardly qualify as well-kept secrets, the show does have some solid advice for buyers and sellers. I especially liked Selling Secret #5: Don't Over-Upgrade:

Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won't get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.