Local real estate agents discuss the biggest decisions to consider when buying or selling a home.

Buying or selling a home is a big decision, one that instigates several other big decisions: which real estate agent to work with, which lender and title company to use, what renovations, if any, are worth completing before listing, etc.. With the right partner to guide the way, the process can be enjoyable and efficient while maximizing profit and minimizing out-of-pocket expenses.

“The first step is getting the right Realtor for you,” says Kristina McMichael-Schwant, an owner of McMichael Realty. “If you’re going to sell, you want a Realtor who has a lot of listings in the area and who knows the area. You want someone who knows how to market a property and will be aggressive with the property to get it sold quickly.”

Because real estate agents work closely to guide clients through every step of the home-buying or -selling process, McMichael-Schwant suggests that clients find a trustworthy agent who matches their personality and is easy to work with.

In addition to knowing how to market properties to get them sold as quickly as possible with the best return, the right real estate agent will always have the buyer’s or seller’s best interests at heart. “We put that commitment into writing with a listing or buyer’s agreement, which outlines how we will be representing you and the specific details of your situation,” says Joyce Bremer, an agent with Re/Max Jefferson City.

Dealing with real estate day-in and day-out leaves agents in a unique position to guide a client through the process of buying or selling a home. With an understanding of a client’s budget and what type of property they’re searching for, a real estate agent can begin to look for the right home and the right lender to make home ownership a reality.

“We establish how much they’d like to pay for the down payment and then offer two or three lender suggestions based on what our client’s goals are,” says Beth McGeorge, an agent with Re/Max Jefferson City. “Most lenders have specialties, and some offer special down payment assistance grants or programs. We try our best to give our clients the best information to get them started on the right foot.”

As a real estate agent, it’s important to pick the right strategy every time — what’s right for one client won’t be right for the next one, says McMichael-Schwant. Through experience, she’s learned that local lenders are top-notch.

“I always support local lenders because you can walk into their office or pick up the phone and find them,” she says. “There are inevitably problems during real estate transactions, and with a lot of out-of-city lenders, when things are going the wrong way, you can’t find them. A lot of deals are ruined when we can’t get ahold of the lender during the transactions. Our local professionals are experts, and I know you will not get better service anywhere else.”

For those selling a home, Bremer says it can be helpful to meet with an agent and discuss updates that would be worth an investment. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color always gives “great bang for your buck,” she says.

Updating light fixtures and kitchen hardware are other simple, inexpensive ways to make a home more attractive to potential buyers, McGeorge says. But, without fail, the most valuable investment is cleaning.

“Buyers want nothing to do with our dust bunnies, pet odors and other normal, everyday home imperfections,” McGeorge says. “When we offer our homes up for sale on the market, it becomes more of a product for sale. It’s still your home, but the everyday pick-up and prep for potential showings is more than most people typically do.”

Knowing the neighborhood and what the competition looks like can also guide potential upgrades. “That’s where a Realtor comes in, because it varies so much and takes expertise,” McMichael-Schwant says. “A Realtor can come in and tell you, ‘If you do this, you can list at this price, or if you do this, you can list at this price.’”

A real estate agent provides a service during one of life’s most stressful times. Through their training and experience, agents are well-positioned to guide their client through the process.

“My experience has been that when you work with an agent, things will go smoother and you can get more money for your house,” McMichael-Schwant says. “They’re an advocate who helps make sure you list at the right price and that you get the most you can for it. They know when you should bend in the negotiations or stand firm. They can be firm when they need to be, but they’re always polite and professional.”

The Job of a Realtor

A great real estate agent has their attention on every detail, so whether the client is buying or selling a property, the transaction goes smoothly, says Kristina McMichael-Schwant of McMichael Realty.

“We know what’s normal and what’s abnormal in a transaction, and we have a knowledge of how things are supposed to go, how to keep them running smoothly, and how to keep them on time,” she says.

The number one trait of a great agent is someone who is honest and trustworthy, says Lyla Stark with Re/Max Jefferson City.

“It goes without saying that honesty is the number one expectation,” she says. “Clients rely on the information a Realtor is giving them to make important financial decisions that could affect the rest of their lives. Realtors follow a code of ethics to pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client in all transactions.”

Behind the scenes, a real estate agent is always working to stay up to date on the latest listings in the area and using their creativity to market their current listings through tools like social media, video tours, and open houses. According to McMichael-Schwant, her job is to make the home-buying and -selling process enjoyable by putting her clients at ease knowing they have a professional on their side.

“It’s one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had,” McMichael-Schwant says. “When a transaction goes seamlessly and everyone is happy, it’s the work of a really good Realtor.”



PROJECT                                  JOB COST              RESALE VALUE             COST RECOUPED

Manufactured Stone Veneer      $8,199 $8,221         $6,794 $7,986                 82.8% 97.1%

Garage Door Replacement        $3,457 $3,470         $2,856 $3,411                 82.4% 98.3%

Deck Addition                             $10,910 $10,950     $7,885 $9,065                 72.3% 82.8%

Siding Replacement                   $15,234 $15,072     $11,006 $11,554             72.1% 76.7%

Entry Door Replacement            $1,887 $1,471         $1,337 $1,344                70.9% 91.3%

Vinyl Window Replacement        $15,959 $15,955     $11,096 $11,855             69.6% 74.3%

Minor Kitchen Remodel              $21,455 $21,198     $14,532 $17,193             67.6% 81.1%

Wood Window Replacement      $19,258 $19,391     $12,045 $13,468             62.5% 69.5%

Universal Design Bathroom        $16,961 $16,393     $10,362 $11,581             61.2% 70.6%

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass)      $8,601 $8,591         $5,211 $5,809                 60.5% 67.6%

Deck Addition (Composite)         $17,749 $17,668     $10,625 $11,239             60.0% 63.6%

Bathroom Remodel                    $19,510 $19,134      $11,522 $13,422             59.2% 70.1%

Roofing Replacement                 $21,512 $20,939     $12,335 $14,320             57.6% 68.4%

Bathroom Remodel                    $62,169 $61,662      $34,668 $34,633             56.1% 56.2%

Master Suite Addition                 $123,843 $123,420  $64,947 $69,807             52.7% 56.6%

Bathroom Addition                      $45,646 $44,717     $23,914 $26,769              52.6% 59.9%

Major Kitchen Remodel              $64,748 $63,829     $33,947 $37,637              52.5% 59.0%

Bathroom Addition                      $84,749 $83,869     $43,784 $45,752              51.7% 54.6%

Major Kitchen Remodel              $126,871 $125,721 $62,586 $67,212              49.4% 53.5%

Master Suite Addition                 $257,265 $256,229 $117,899 $123,797           46.0% 48.3%

Backyard Patio                           $55,473 $54,130     $23,565 $25,769               42.4% 47.6%