Emily Merkley, association executive, Cache-Rich Association of REALTORS®

When you find yourself in the position to buy or sell a home, one of your first thoughts might be to try to sell it on your own to save money. You’re not alone! Many homeowners and potential home buyers are looking to cut costs on real estate transactions, and believe eliminating the role of a real estate agent will prove a significant savings. But what potential buyers and sellers are not familiar with is the behind-the-scenes work that goes into every transaction, which proves to be more difficult than expected.

For every known and obvious step in a real estate transaction, there is a handful of policies and procedures that are unknown to buyers and sellers, which is where the value of a REALTOR® is evident. Hiring a REALTOR® is hiring a consultant, according to Jason Holmes, Broker of Achievement Realty.

“A REALTOR® makes the selling and buying process run as smoothly as possible, and when buyers or sellers opt to tackle the process on their own, they risk pitfalls that range anywhere from unskilled negotiations to home liability issues and obstacles that may prevent the successful buying or selling of their home,” Jason said. “You can’t overestimate the value of a REALTOR’s® knowledge and experience. Avoiding common pitfalls and costly mistakes is incredibly important when you’re dealing with what is usually the largest financial transaction of your life.”

Watch for our segments in the coming issues of this magazine that will help you avoid the pitfalls of real estate as you discover the REAL-tor® value, what happens during the buying and selling process and the role agents play in ensuring successful transactions.

Prioritize your home improvement plans

Whether you have owned your home for years or just recently moved in, it’s likely you want to change a few things. Before taking a hammer to those walls, it’s in your best interest, aesthetically and financially, to know what changes will produce the highest rate of return on your home investment.

  • Think energy efficient. A perennial chart topper with an average 107.7 percent ROI is the installation of cost-effective fiberglass insulation in the attic. Similar projects are installing better-insulated windows and doors.
  • It’s all about the entry. Replacing a run-of-the-mill entry door with an attractive alternative will catch a 90.7 percent ROI.
  • Where character meets function. While a minor kitchen remodel can cost up to $20,000, kitchens are top-sellers for most homes, and have a healthy ROI of about 80.2 percent.
  • The first glance. New siding adds curb appeal, and often generates a higher return than many inside improvements with an estimated 76.4 percent ROI.
  • Expanding living space. Adding a wood or composite deck, depending on your region, is another great home improvement project. Decks add additional and usable space that creates a simple cohesion between a home’s interior and the outdoors. Estimated ROI, depending on material, is 65.3 percent and 71.5 percent.

When making decisions regarding home improvements, remember to evaluate the length of your stay in your home. If you’ll be there more than five years, ROI doesn’t have a significant effect, and you should make improvements according to what you want most. If your stay will be less than five years, be sure to pinpoint the top improvements for your area, then move forward with confidence as you focus on the improvements that will provide the greatest return on your investment.