(Published on - 5/24/2017 12:02:55 AM)


Whether you want to update your home, customize it, or integrate smart technology into your design, you can’t go wrong these high-value home renovation projects:


  1. Remodel your kitchen

Kitchen renovations are the most common remodeling projects being undertaken right now, with 81% of remodelers working on kitchens and 80% on bathrooms, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

On average, a minor kitchen remodel costs $20,830, with homeowners recouping 80.2% of the cost at the time of sale. Major kitchen remodels average $62,158, with a significantly lower resale value of $40,560 (65.3% of the cost).

Before you dive into your renovations, award-winning interior designer Kerrie Kelly suggests taking the time to consider the kitchen work triangle –  the space between your sink, range and refrigerator.

“Any homeowner can create a safe and enjoyable kitchen space with a work triangle that plays well both functionally and fashionably,” says Kelly, adding that key concepts to take into account during the design phase include lighting, traffic patterns, work surfaces, storage and streamlining.

“By knowing the tips and tricks designers use to enhance the functionality of the kitchen triangle, you can create your ideal kitchen without limiting its visual allure or practicality,” she adds.

  1. Upgrade your bathroom

Bathroom remodels cost $18,546 on average, with homeowners typically replacing fixtures and surrounding tiles, shower controls, the toilet, sink and vanity, cabinets and vinyl wallpaper. Upgrading a bathroom to a more accessible universal design (e.g. widening the doorway, adding grab bars etc.) costs slightly less at $15,730. In both cases, homeowners may recover 64.8% of the job cost when they sell.

Regardless of your design, toilet placement is an important but often overlooked aspect of a good bathroom layout, according to Kelly.

“The toilet can be considered the ‘problem child’ of the bathroom because of its unwavering ability to impact all the other design elements, like whether or not a larger vanity can be accommodated or if certain plumbing can be shifted around,” explains Kelly.

And since it’s rarely economical to move existing toilets, Kelly recommends smart fixes like building a separate water closet within your bathroom to keep it out of line of sight, or opting for an in-wall toilet to provide extra space.

  1. Add extra rooms to your home

Room additions can be costly, ranging from $43,232 for an extra bathroom, to $176,108 for a two-story addition. However, up to 71.1% of these costs can be recovered, depending on the nature and design of the renovation.

Master suite addition $119,533 $77,506 64.8%
Family room addition $89,566 $62,055 69.3%
Bathroom addition $43,232 $23,283 53.9%
Two-story addition $176,108 $125,222 71.1%

One of the biggest mistakes that Voitek Klimczyk, owner of, warns homeowners against when they take on home addition projects is buying into trends.

“Every day, new materials and the latest gadgets for a remodeling project or room addition come to a store near you. But unless it’s a tried and true classic, then you may want to avoid it,” he cautions.

If you’re looking at home and design trends for inspiration, be sure to consider the functionality and resale value of these solutions as well.

  1. Replace your windows and doors

Replacing your front door has the second-highest return on investment when compared to other remodeling projects. According to Remodeling’s 2017 Cost vs Value Report, homeowners who spent an average of $1,413 recouped 90.7% of the cost. Garage door replacement jobs recovered 76.9% of the cost, while upscale window replacement projects recovered 73.9% and 73% for vinyl windows and wood windows, respectively.

In addition to improving curb appeal, upgrading windows and doors typically makes homes more energy efficient, which you can finance with the help of provincial credits and grants if you live in Canada, and local, state or federal tax credit programs if you live in the United States.

  1. Finish your basement

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to add extra living space to your home, a basement remodel can offer a 70% return on investment, in addition to being a flexible space as far as functionality. Whether you convert it into a rental unit, home gym, or multi-functional living space for the whole family, home improvement expert Alex Pascal says that you should factor soundproofing into your plans.

“You should soundproof your basement, not only because you’re going to turn it into a studio or an entertainment hub. But most of the house’s mechanical systems are underground and near your basement,” Pascal insists.

6 Renovations that can add value to your home

What home renovation projects are you taking on this summer?

Meet Our Accounting Department

(Published on - 5/22/2017 6:42:55 PM)

One of the most consistent compliments we receive from our Sales Executives and industry peers is about our administrative support staff. At Realty Executives Integrity, we have a support team that is second to none. Whether connecting with our front desk specialists, our office designated Realtors or a member of our leadership team, the customer service you receive is nothing short of extraordinary. Our accounting department is no exception.

Nestled in our Lake Country office, our accounting department is anchored by two incredible individuals who have a heart to serve. Arlene Nesta, who is celebrating her 10th year with the company and Jesse Garcia, who is in her first year with Realty Executives Integrity.

(From left to right: Arlene Nesta and Jesse Garcia)

Arlene, a native of the Milwaukee area, came to Realty Executives Integrity in 2007 with a background in business banking and quickly became a trusted member of our support staff. While her title of Accounting Clerk Manager doesn’t nearly begin to describe her value to the department, she continues to ensure that solutions are found and challenges are met with a smile. Outside of work, Arlene’s favorite title is “Granny” and she is the beloved grandmother of three beautiful grandchildren.

Jesse’s journey to Realty Executives has been a cross country experience. Having grown up in Montana, she made her way to Wisconsin in 2016 to raise their precious daughter Ruby near her husband’s roots. Numbers are not her only specialty. Jesse is gifted musically and enjoys teaching her love of the piano to anyone willing to learn. Jesse’s welcoming spirit ensures that a visit to our accounting department is an enjoyable one.

The accounting department prides itself on providing the quickest commission check turnaround in the industry. Our goal will always be to end your transaction on a positive note and if you have had the pleasure of interacting with either of these ladies…you know this will be mission accomplished. Arlene and Jesse are incredible assets to Realty Executives Integrity and provide a level of service that will exceed your expectations. 

For more information about Realty Executives Integrity, and to find out how YOU can make more money, contact a member of our professional Development Team at:  |  262-364-0572

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April 2017 "Brokerage of the Month" Award

(Published on - 5/18/2017 1:00:19 AM)

Realty Executives Integrity, which serves home buyers and sellers throughout the entire southeastern Wisconsin area, has been recognized by Realty Executives International as the Brokerage of the Month for April 2017.

The company has gained the attention of local and national press for outstanding office culture and 2016 sales production. On April 27, 2017 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel awarded Realty Executives Integrity with a “Top Workplace Award” for 2017. Now in it’s eighth year, the annual feature recognizes the best places to work in southeastern Wisconsin, as ranked by the employees (and in this case, real estate agents) themselves.

The Top Workplace Awards are based on overall organizational health, including organizational alignment, efficiency and management fluidity, among other factors.  “Realty Executives Integrity ranked high in all categories, with our leadership ranking the highest. I’m happy to report that we were the top ranked real estate company in the midsize business category and we ranked No. 3 overall in the midsize business category, regardless of industry type,” reported Chief Operating Officer and Partner of Realty Executives Integrity, Dana Keegan.

Realty Executives Integrity also received national recognition in both the 2017 REAL Trends 500 as well as the RISMedia’s 29th Power Broker Report for the fifth year in a row. Both reports honor top residential real estate companies for total closed sales volume and closed transaction sides in 2016.

The brokerage is led by Keegan, along with Dale Schaechterle (Broker/Owner and Founding Partner) and Claire Zastrow (Chief Administrative Director and Partner). The leadership team’s people-centric approach and focus on building a strong company culture has made a tremendous impact on sales productivity, and in turn, the company’s efforts to give back to the community.

“Every decision we make stems from one simple question ‘will this best serve our people?’” Keegan explains.  “We strongly encourage our Executives to make a difference in the communities they serve to ensure their footprint extends past the closing table. Our foundation is based on four pillars: independence, profitability, support and culture. On a leadership level, we work diligently to keep each of those areas strong and that attracts the right individuals,” Keegan concludes.

The firm actively supports five charitable organizations: Habitat for Humanity, Lindsey’s Voice, Unite4Peyton, JR’s Pups-n-Stuff and Hope Street Ministries. Each organization connects personally with a member of the company.

“We’ve made it easy for our Executives to support these charities by allowing them to make donations directly from their closing checks. Outside of financial contributions, our leadership team and Executives donate their time and energy to work events associated with these charities as well,” Keegan said.

Realty Executives Integrity’s office culture has been widely recognized amongst the Realty Executives International network on more than one occasion. Notably, the company received special recognition as the recipient of the Extraordinary Brokerage Award during the 2016 Realty Excellence® Awards ceremony, held during the franchisor’s annual Broker Owner Conference at its hometown headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pictured above, Dana Keegan (Chief Operating Officer), Claire Zastrow (Chief Administrative Director and Partner) and Dale Schaechterle (Broker/Owner and Founding Partner).

Celebrating 2016 Award Winners

(Published on - 5/9/2017 9:05:41 PM)

We are still feeling the excitement from our 2016 “Executive Excellence Awards” last month. Among the historic beauty of the Wisconsin Club in Downtown Milwaukee, our Sales Executives had the opportunity to celebrate their fellow Realty Executives agents for their honors in the last year. It was an inspirational morning and we wanted to take a moment to share with you a bit about those we had the pleasure of honoring. This year we honored 72 Sales Executives or Teams for their sales accomplishments in 2016 – a record for Realty Executives

Integrity! As a company, it is our passion to create an environment that fosters opportunities for every individual to independently achieve their own personal dreams of excellence and their phenomenal achievements are evidence of that very thing. As we have watched our Executives proudly and worked together with them to support growth in their business, we realize these International Awards are only one piece of a larger puzzle. Beyond the monetary achievements, we have had the privilege of watching our Executives cultivate their business goals and the developments in their personal accomplishments – as they move toward their own visions of success.

Accounting Department Staff Members, Arlene & Jesse, enjoy breakfast with Sales Executives, Jason Patti, Gayle Gintner, and Sarah Smart. 

Among all the celebrations this year, we have a record accomplishment for our brokerage. We had the pleasure of honoring 12 of our Sales Executives or Teams that have rank in the Top 100 of Realty Executives International in either

Commission Earned or Units Sold – and in some cases, these individuals rank in both! This incredible accomplishment is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication of our incredible Sales Executives who stood out ahead of the other 8,000 Sales Executives across our Realty Executives brand. Our leadership team is immensely proud of this accomplishment and the character demonstrated while achieving such a monumental recognition. Well done!


Journey to Excellence Award Winner, Jodi Olson, with Broker/Owner's Dale & Vicky Schaechterle

In addition to the International Awards winners that were recognized, we also celebrated with our own Realty Executives Integrity awards which are voted on by our Sales Executives and support staff. The winner of this year’s Legend Award is John Behrens. His journey in real estate spans four decades in which he has served countless individuals alongside his wife, Sue. John is an anchor in our Lake Country Office and serves as the Designated Realtor for this location. His talent for finding solutions and providing direction to his fellow Executives is just one of the many reasons why he is so highly regarded among his peers. Tiffany Decker, our Franklin Client Care Specialist, was awarded this year’s Staff Achievement recognition. Joining our support staff 3 years ago she began by faithfully serving at our Cedarburg location and more recently played an instrumental part in opening our Franklin office. She has a commitment to growth and supporting each of our Sales Executives. A devoted mom above all else, Tiffany’s strength and heart are keys to our culture. Our Affiliate of the Year, Kris Richter, exemplifies a servant heart in all she does. Her diligence and work ethic are inspiring and she always has a smile to brighten anyone’s day.

2016 Staff Achievment Award Winner, Tiffany Decker, and Broker/Owner Dale Schaechterle

For the second year in a row we have awarded a Realty Executives Integrity Rising Star Award. This year the award was bestowed by all of our Sales Executives on to Jeff Kaus of our Brookfield Office. Jeff has spent most of his life in service to others beginning with serving his country in the United States Army. He then spent the next 20 years in the social services field assisting families in crisis. In 2015, he made the transition in to Real Estate and never looked back. His success proves that intention and discipline can garner

exceptional results. Finally, we celebrated a brand-new award this year, The Journey to Excellence. This accolade was created to recognize an individual who consistently demonstrates the discipline, drive and determination it takes to achieve exceptional results in Real Estate. Jodi Olson’s journey began over 15 years ago as she started her real estate career working at the front desk in our Lake Country office. Her commitment to obtaining a sales license knew no limits as she was a mother of small 3 children at the time. Throughout her journey she continued to have the tenacity to push herself and grow her business while maintaining her priorities.

We love having the privilege of celebrating all of our Sales Executives not only on the morning of our Executive Excellence Awards but every day. It is truly incredible to watch each one of them create a business that is uniquely a reflection of what they want it to be. 

The complete list of 2016 award winners can be found here:



For more photos from the event visit our Facebook Page. A special thank you to The Keel Collective for photographing our event.  

For more information about Realty Executives Integrity, and to find out how YOU can make more money, contact a member of our professional Development Team at:  |  262-364-0572

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Your Future Starts Here with Realty Executives

(Published on - 4/5/2017 6:46:46 PM)


For more information about Realty Executives Integrity, and to find out how YOU can make more money, contact a member of our Professional Development Team at: