What The HGTV Shows Don’t Tell You

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Love it or List It? Property Brothers? Which ones are your favorites? I used to love watching hours of these shows. That is until I got into Realestate myself. Now when I watch them, they make me laugh.
I’ve been working full-time as a licensed Realtor now since 2015. Before that my husband and I jumped into the real estate market as investors. We’ve done major house rebuilds and flips of different sizes. 
So as I cover the Myths vs Reality section that follows, please keep in mind that I’m speaking out of the very solid experience. 

HGTV Myths vs Reality

Homebuyers decide which to buy after just three homes.  Not! I’ve worked with homebuyers who take up to six months before deciding which to buy. During those six months, I’ve taken them to see at least 45 houses.
How do I know? I keep a folder for every client I work with and in that folder, I place the listing and any notes for each and every house we look at. Then at closing, I pull that folder out to remind them of how many they actually saw. They are always surprised.

The shows buyers haven’t yet found their dream home. 

There’s no way to show the whole buying process, which often takes months, in a 30-minute show. Therefore, the show’s producers work with buyers who are much further along in the process and already found a house.

All homes for sale are vacant.

It’s pretty clear that the show producers prefer to show only vacant homes giving many the impression that all homes for sale are vacant. In reality, I’d say 40% of homes listed for sale at any given time are actually vacant.

Homes always sell at the open house.

If only that was remotely true! Here’s the truth about open houses. When you list your house for sale, chances are far more likely that those who visit your house, will make an offer on another. Open houses benefit real estate agents more than they benefit the seller.

The Seller decides to sell after a five-minute conversation.

I’ve done my share of negotiating on behalf of my buyer clients. First of all, buyers agents do not typically have direct contact with sellers. They contact and negotiate through the listing agent.  
I can tell you it takes more than just a five-minute conversation. Protocols must be followed such as submit buyer’s pre-approval and written purchase offer. Negotiate specifics between the party and any counter-offers. This process typically takes 24-48 hours. 

Homebuyer downpayment and closing cost money is available

Sellers get 100% of their renovation budget back when they sell the house. 

At the start of the show, they value the property. By the end of the show, they add the full value of the renovations to the market value of the property. 

No one gets 100% back. Some renovations are worth more than others. In general, I’ve seen appraisers here in Michigan value $3000 for every bedroom or bath and around $5000 for a finished basement. Adding an extra bedroom could cost you $18,000 and remodeling a bath a minimum of $15,000.
For instance, for a full kitchen renovation, homeowners can expect to recoup up to 65% of the costs.
  • Average cost: $62,158
  • Average resale value $40,560
Average resale value for a full bathroom remodel is 53% and 64% for a new master bedroom.

You’re never really sure of actual costs.

The hosts on many of these shows don’t really tell you the real costs of labor they are paying. Many times they don’t include any of the closing costs and moving costs.
You definitely don’t want to over-improve your property because chances are likely that the area comparables just won’t support it. Many new first-time flippers fall for this mistake. Your improvements should always be kept inline within the limits of your area market. 

Every new home is perfect.

Even new build homes are not perfect and come with a whole host of issues that continually crop up after closing. I’ve built two custom homes in my life and I can tell you that I had to call the builder’s handyman back to the house for repairs many times during the first twelve months of ownership.
The purpose of a home inspection is to point out the issues a house has and renegotiate on the big-ticket items that have to be addressed urgently. Every house has issues, which is why a home inspection is imperative so that you, as a buyer, go in with eyes wide open.

Even a little mold is a deal killer.

Every time they find even the smallest amount of mold on these TV shows, you’d think the sky was falling. The looks of shock coupled with the stern looks of the hosts are for dramatic effect. Every state treats issues of mold differently and small levels do not require whole house remediation.

A four-room renovation in just four weeks!

This one is the biggest misconception of all. I’ve designed, gutted and renovated six kitchens of all different sizes. I can tell you from experience that most kitchen renovations take at least 6-8 weeks, not including code inspections.
These TV shows would have you believe that you can get a full kitchen, bath and living area renovation requiring plumbing and electrical in just four weeks total. Reality dictates that depending on the level of improvements you should allow at least six weeks per room.

Also, many contractors have stated that shows similar to Love It Or List It and Property Brothers give viewers false expectations on price and timeframe. In general, the price quotes for renovations are 20% to 30% too low.

You’re Not Getting The Full Picture

These TV shows operate on generalities and don’t give the viewer the full costs of home buying and selling. Closing costs are generally 2% – 5% of the purchase price.
Aside from closing costs, there are charges related to home inspections, brokerage fees, mortgage lender fees, etc. Property taxes and seller transfer taxes are significant costs that must be considered.

In Conclusion

Many people are being misled by these shows and are unprepared when they enter the market and discover things aren’t quite as they were portrayed on TV. Especially in the case of first-time homebuyers. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Find Me On Pinterest

Hey, let’s meet up on Pinterest. I’ve made it super easy for you too! Just click on the image below and you’ll be taken to one of my boards devoted to buying a home, the right way. See you there!

About Annette Hibbler, Keller Williams Realty Livingston

Annette is a licensed Realtor in Michigan since 2015 specializing in cities within a 30-mile radius of Brighton, MI. These include Novi, Farmington Hills, Highland, Livonia, Hampton and everything in between. Prior to obtaining her real estate license, Annette and her husband were full-time investors. Purchasing distressed properties, rehabbing, and selling homes. They both have extensive experience with buy and hold rental properties. Annette’s mission, desire and goals is to assist all parties in accomplishing their real estate goals as well as empower her clients through exceptional service, creating extraordinary results. 

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