- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

During my most recent workout at the gym, I watched a professional trainer try to teach an obvious amateur member how to build more muscle and prevent injury.

The amateur just wouldn’t listen. Instead of dropping down to a 45-pound weight 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 more repetitions with the lighter weight 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 chuckled as he said, “Some people just think they know it all.”

With his expertise and the body to prove it, it seemed like a waste of time and an insult to his obvious knowledge to be exchanging advice with a string bean.

There are many situations in your life when doing something yourself or the way you want to do it just doesn’t make sense.

Dealing with real estate is one of those situations. You need professionals when it comes to investing, maintaining and selling real estate to make sure you don’t commit costly mistakes with 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. Investors don’t have time or expertise to do it themselves.

It’s in the world of private owners dealing with their personal residences that I see many consumers try to fix up, sell or buy their homes on the cheap.

Check the following list of professionals. Many times it is worth the effort and financial investment to hire the right person.

• General contractor. Most homeowners like to think 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, 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 your doing it yourself.

• Carpet installer. It’s amazing how many people want to take on this one 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. Though most people I know could handle a paint job in their home, this task is fraught with accidents ready to happen — splattered paint; spilled paint buckets; color mistakes — all of which have happened with paint jobs I have done myself. Why torture yourself?

• Plumbing, electrical, heating-ventilation and air-conditioning 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 specialists.

The problem comes when your home is being inspected 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 they are doing.

• Real estate agent. Well, you know I couldn’t get through a “hire a professional” column without mentioning this one. In many hot markets, a lot of homeowners want to try this one themselves. However, 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 houses themselves and maximize their bottom line — which is the most important service a real estate agent brings to the table.

Regardless of the task, at least consult with a professional before tackling the job yourself and possibly making a mess of things.

M. Anthony Carr has written about real estate since 1989. He is the author of “Real Estate Investing Made Simple.” Post questions at his Web log (http://commonsenserealestate.blogspot.com).

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