During my last workout at the gym, I watched a professional trainer attempt to instruct a very amateur member in how to build more muscle and prevent injury. The amateur just wouldn't listen, it seemed. Instead of dropping his dumbbell down to 45 pounds in each hand, he argued with the trainer that he wanted to do 60 pounds in each hand to build muscle.
The trainer explained that the lighter weight with higher repetitions would provide him with a complete range of movement and provide more even definition. Again, the man said, "Oh, I can do 50, I'm just doing 60 pounds to build up."
The trainer walked away, shook his head and just chuckled, "Some people just think they know it all." With his expertise and the body to show it, exchanging advice with a string-bean seemed like a waste of time at the least and an insult to his obvious learning and expertise at the worst.
There are many times in your life when doing something yourself, or the way you want to do it, just doesn't make sense. Real estate is no different. You need professionals when it comes to investing, maintaining and selling real estate to make sure you don't commit costly mistakes in regards to your money, energy, and time.
Most professional investors I know have no problem hiring the right person for the job. If the house needs painting, they pick up the phone and find a good, professional painter. They don't have time nor expertise to do it themselves. It's in the world of private owners who are dealing with their personal residence that I see many consumers try to fix up, sell or buy their home on the cheap.
It's the professionals listed below that I see more homeowners try to do themselves and realize many times it would have been worth the effort and financial investment to hire the right person:
General contractor: This is the big one. Most homeowners like to think that they are a bit handy with the toolbox. The thought goes like this: "How hard could it be to fix that dry rot, anyway? Cut it here, insert new wood there, paint it. Why pay someone to do that?"
If your house needs a lot of fixing up, a general contractor can bid out all the different jobs, supervise the work and watch your budget for you and get it done faster than you doing it yourself.
Carpet layer: It's amazing how many people want to take this one on themselves. I saw a house once that had a beautiful curving stairway with white carpet. I guess the owner wanted to preserve this virgin floor covering, so he placed a clear runner down the stairway -- fastened down with roofing nails.
Painter: While most people I know could handle a paint job in their house, this task is fraught with accidents ready to happen: splattered paint along the floor, on the trim, and ceiling; spilled paint buckets; different colors (that were supposed to be the same) painted on adjoining walls -- all of which has happened with paint jobs I've done myself. Why torture yourself?
Plumber/Electrician/HVAC Technician: These three are probably the ones that most homeowners will default to immediately if something goes wrong in the house. Nevertheless, I have seen some finished spaces that homeowners completed themselves without the assistance of these trade specialists. The problem comes when you're home is being inspecting during your sale and the inspector asks for the county permits and certificates. These pros come with certification and specialty training -- it's best to leave such projects to those who know exactly what their doing.
Realtor: Well, you know I couldn't get through a "hire a professional" column without laying this one out there. In many a hot market, a lot of homeowners want to try this one themselves. But just like all the other professionals mentioned above, a good Realtor is worth every penny.
Most homeowners simply don't have the time, negotiation skills, expertise or training to sell their house themselves and maximize their bottom line -- which is the most important service a real estate agent (who's doing her job) brings to the table.
Regardless of the job you need to complete to purchase or sell your home yourself, at least consult with a professional before tackling the job yourself and possibly making a mess of things.
Mr. Carr has covered real estate since 1989. He is the author of "Real Estate Investing Made Simple." Got a personal real estate issue? Questions can be posted at Anthony's blog.