Home is where the meal ticket is. The California Association of REALTORS released a study last night that shows California home sellers posted a record median gain of $150,000 this year.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. It's awfully funny that a Realtor association's acronym is C.A.R. Well, that and the fact that Realtors have every biased reason to make you believe that grand riches await the moment you list your home for sale.

Let's start with the case for selling your present digs. Real estate prices have soared as rock-bottom borrowing costs are stretching the value of the homebuying dollar. You can see it in the monster quarterly reports from lenders such as Countrywide (NYSE:CFC) and homebuilders such as Lennar (NYSE:LEN) and Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL). No one can deny that the housing market is hot and that the market value of your home has probably appreciated significantly over the past few years.

But there's the rub. Where will you go if you cash out? There's been a flurry of activity in our Home Center this year, but odds are that the price tag on the home you are considering has also risen substantially. If you're looking to sell a vacation home or set on downsizing your homestead, that's opportunity knocking with thick, grubby fingers. If all you're looking for is to refinance your place, as long as the numbers line up, go for it. But if you want to upgrade to a more expensive home, the recent gains will probably work against you.

So, maybe you should treat your home like any other equity investment. Just because it has appreciated in value doesn't mean that your best move is to, well, move. Due diligence pays. Know the fundamentals of your foundation.

If our Home Center has you exploring the sale of your home, good luck. But have you thought about maybe just improving your existing home? Have you been watching way too many Trading Spaces and While You Were Out episodes lately? All this and more -- in theBuilding/Maintaining a Home discussion board. Only on Fool.com.