Finding yourself falling headfirst into an HGTV marathon isn’t that uncommon. It’s entertaining, easily consumed, and predictable (there’s never a plot twist that involves house hunters choosing to live off the grid in an RV over the three homes that their agent has presented to them.) Still, overexposure can lead to the perception that scripted television is the portal to reality, and have you questioning why your real estate agent hasn’t delivered your dream home in record time. After all, these shows can’t be that dissimilar to the real world or real estate?
Oh, but they are.
Below are just a few notions to keep in the back of your head the next time you’re binge-watching your favorite real estate reality show:
These Shows are Scripted
Granted, the guests may not be fed every single line, but trust that there’s an executive producer making sure they get every shot that the audience is accustomed to seeing. The story arc of buying a home is less of an arc and more of a winding road. Assuming that it only takes three showings to find your perfect home is unrealistic. In fact, some of the homes that are showcased on these shows aren’t even on the market. They’re just used as filler because the producer already knows which house they want to focus on.
Also, when you see a couple’s reaction shot from seeing the master bedroom for the first time, know that from a production standpoint, you’re not getting that shot on the first take. The producer needs multiple angles, and in smaller spaces that can be super hard to get without re-positioning your production crew.
Remodeling Projects are Not Completed That Quickly
A selling agent tells their customer that they need to open up their floor-plan because open spaces are all the rage. Suddenly, a construction crew shows up and in no time, we have a completely different layout, which ultimately leads to an offer on the home.
Aside from the fact that you can’t just knock down all the walls in your home and expect it to remain standing, remodeling your home takes far more time than reality shows dictate. If you are making major changes, you’ll need to find the right contractor, apply for the correct permits, discuss materials, and agree on a budget. Is it the most compelling television, no. Necessary? Absolutely.
You Don’t Always Make Money on a House Flip
Reality TV would have you believe that every foreclosure is garbage-covered diamond just waiting to be discovered. Truth is, some of them are just garbage and not at all worth your investment. There’s not always going to be a brick-exposed wall hiding behind paneling, or hardwood flooring beneath old shag carpeting. What you probably will find is a home that is nowhere near up to code, which translates to a lot of time, work, and money. That’s not to say that investing in a foreclosure is an awful idea, but you should certainly have a realistic expectation regarding ROI.
Spending a Sunday in your sweatpants while yelling at a woman who demands a mansion with an infinity pool by the ocean on a budget of the $30,000 a year is a fine way to spend an afternoon. Just know that in the real world, buying or selling a home requires more blood, sweat, and tears than lights, camera, and action.