We've all seen them; reality shows about house hunting, renovations, and real estate companies have all but taken over our television screens. The free room makeovers done in a weekend, the perfect home in the dream neighborhood within budget, flipping a property and making BANK! If it all just seems too good to be true, that's because it is. Here are just a few of the things these shows tend to exaggerate.
- 3 is NOT the magic number
Whether it's three homes or three days, it typically takes a lot more of each to accomplish your goals. Buying a home in the reel world, buyers look at three homes and somehow find the perfect one. In the real world, buyers look at an average of six new homes or ten existing homes before they purchase (National Association of Home Builders). The reel world also doesn't show the nitty gritty details of finances and inspections. While most shows do give the budget or mention a small hiccup with a repair needed, they gloss over the fact that it can sometimes take months to be pre-approved for a budget and contracts can sometimes fall apart due to a problem with an inspection. As for home renovations in the reel world, it takes three days to finish a room makeover. In the real world, it can take up to three days just to drywall! Most renovations take weeks, even months to finish. A lot of cut corners and 24 hour work days go into doing a three day TV show. By using quick installation materials, like laminate flooring instead of hard wood, they can get the job done faster. (That doesn't always mean it looks better though.)
- Flipping houses is A. not easy and B. not cheap
Since the housing bubble burst and distressed properties could be seen everywhere, people saw opportunity in the house flipping business. You could make lots of money too, IF you took the leap before the crowd. The problem with flipping houses is, everyone seems to think they can do it and that is most definitely NOT the case. There are so many things to consider before buying a home in general, much less one to flip. Some things include the location, knowledge of the property and area, etc. Just because a home is cheap doesn't mean it's a good buy. If you buy an older home to flip and it has lead-based paint, forget it. You can kiss your huge profits goodbye.
- Staged homes and staged story lines
One of the most surprising things about reel world real estate is the fact that the homes AND family story lines are more scripted than documented. One of the homes toured on the show may not even be for sale or the families back story my be a little too embellished. What once appeared to be the most honest reality shows are now coming out to be just as fake as an episode of "The Hills".
One positive of the reel world real estate is it causes buyers and sellers to step up their game. Sellers can no longer get away with shoving things in closets for a showing and buyers are more likely to do their homework than just jump into the first home they see. Everyone involved in the real estate process is more cautious, yet smart, about the role they play.
As with all reality TV, the goal is to entertain. Yes, there can be great lessons to be learned, but at the end of the day, it's still just television.