It’s no secret that reality television very often does not, in fact, depict reality. One of the most frequently viewed “reality” television networks is HGTV, which features a wide range of home renovation and DIY shows that cater to a variety of home improvement enthusiasts.
While HGTV wants you to get lost in the latest episode of House Hunters, you may be surprised to know that these episodes are in fact, at least partially scripted.
Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good home improvement show, especially those ever-addicting home-flipping shows like Fixer Uppers, there are a few things HGTV portrays that are less than accurate. Here are five of those things you may want to consider or have your clients consider before embarking on the homeownership process yourself (or with a client).
Consider the following…
1. Realtors work a lot harder/longer than people think
Unfortunately, HGTV often portrays real estate agents as people who do the bare minimum for their clients, when in fact most Realtors® go above and beyond for their clients.
According to CheatSheet, Sissy Lapin, author and co-founder of ListingDoor, stated shows like House Hunters “make the agent look like they’re just these lazy people who show two houses and negotiate $1,000 off the asking price,” rather than showing the whole host of duties a good agent performs for their clients.
Good agents tackle the whole home buying process; informing clients about what they should consider when selecting a home, negotiating a better deal, and making sure that they do their very best to ensure nothing goes wrong throughout the entire process from start to close.
This is not the impression a potential homebuyer would get from HGTV alone. Realtors are an amazing asset to have on your team when you’re considering buying or selling a home, and they do a lot more than HGTV portrays.
2. Over-emphasizing the importance of new features
HGTV shows make a production out of showing homeowners frantically searching for the “perfect home” with all the “must have” features. In all fairness, sponsorship from the latest and greatest in-home innovations is how they make some of their money. While it’s certainly understandable that most homeowners have a list of things they want in a new home, worrying sellers into thinking they won’t be able to sell their home unless they have these highly coveted features is an entirely different thing.
Lapin commented, “I can’t tell you how many times that I go into a house and they’re like, do you think it would add more value, or do you think it would sell faster if I put in granite countertops?” In fact, like many other trends in homes, consumers are moving away from granite to other sustainable materials. But you would never guess this if you believe everything HGTV is promoting on their shows. Again, the key is to do your own research. Consult a professional and inquire as to what would increase your home’s value.
3. Downplaying the expense of renovations
If you took what HGTV shows to heart, you’d be inclined to believe that major home renovations can be completed in mere hours for a few hundred dollars. If you’ve ever seen Property Brothers, you know the brothers function on extremely fast renovations schedules and very low budgets. This is likely not the situation you’ll encounter if you decide to renovate your own home (or a project home). Even contractors have complained that these types of shows are giving people an inaccurate picture of renovation expectations.
“Remodelers say that shows such as Love It or List It and Property Brothers, which often cram whole-house remodeling projects into too-small budgets, give clients the wrong impression regarding pricing and time constraints,” notes Tim Regan, writer for Remodeling.com. Also, according to CheatSheet, some renovations may not even be up to code.
One couple who appeared on Love It or List It is suing the show’s production company stating their home was “irreparably damaged” and a that a licensed architect was not hired.
To ensure your next project goes smoothly the best thing you can do is consult with a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor. They will be able to give you a timetable and price range that is more realistic than what you see on HGTV.
4. Location, location, location
While not as important as the other factors on this list, in my opinion, it is certainly something to be considered. HGTV shows like House Hunters very rarely focus on the importance of location with the home buyer.
Lapin stated in one episode, she watched as a couple chose a home because of its stylish features even though it meant they would have to make a 45-minute commute to work. While everyone is entitled to make their own choices, Lapin makes a good point in stating that she would have “made [her] client make that drive to work three days in a row” to see if they would still enjoy the location of their new home.
This is one of the many benefits of having a Realtor® on your side: they know the ins and outs of home values, location, and more. Getting your information from a Realtor® will take you a lot further (and very likely save you money) then the information you can get from HGTV programming.
5. Buyers know more than some may think
Contrary to what HGTV would like you to believe, buyers are not naïve. For the most part, buyers are real-world savvy and have a good idea about what they need and the price range they can afford. This is the age of digital technology, and most buyers are putting that technology to use, researching before they set out to buy something.
Sites like Zillow give buyers an idea of what’s available for how much, and they can even see what the home looks like without getting out and driving to the location. HGTV tends to show buyers that don’t know what they want or how much they can spend.
This is likely done to make their professionals seem more knowledgeable, but in reality, as Lapin states, “the buyer, the consumer, is very savvy and I feel like that’s not portrayed. Buyers have a lot of confidence now.” This isn’t to say most buyers don’t still welcome guidance from a professional, but they do have a general idea of what they want and what they can spend, by and large.
Instead of viewing HGTV as an example to follow, or representative of the market as a whole, it should be treated as entertainment.
While there are some aspects of the show that may be useful to some viewers, such as window replacement and selecting new flooring, it definitely shouldn’t be held as the gold standard for service or the home buying experience.
Consumers’ best bet is to consult an industry professional who can give you a more realistic picture of cost and time.