Potential Homebuyers Deterred by Reality TV

by Houston Agent

Drew and Jonathan Scott of HGTV's "Property Brothers."

Numerous reality television shows spotlighting renovation nightmares have popped up in recent years, and some are questioning their impact on potential homebuyers.

Displaying the ugly side of buying a beautiful home, several of the shows were highlighted in a recent article published in the New York Times that addressed the shows’ impact.

“Forget what the economists say; it’s obvious that the housing market’s plunge in recent years parallels the proliferation of shows whose main message is that only an idiot would buy a house,” wrote Neil Gezlinger. “Would-be homebuyers don’t need to watch many of these shows before reaching a few conclusions that will make them renters for life.”

The problem with most of these reality TV shows is they show everything that can go wrong when buying a home will go wrong, and potential homebuyers must be prepared to see thousands of their hard earned cash literally disappear in the blink of an eye. This happens on shows like “Homes Inspection” on HGTV, where contractor Mike Holmes comes to inspect the homes of unlucky owners and tell them that he must gut their whole house.

Gezlinger’s advice is to “pray this guy never stops by your place for a visit. He’ll notice some flaking paint on a shutter, and the next thing you know, he’ll be ordering up the kinds of repairs that can be paid for only by selling all of your stocks, cars and children.”

Another HGTV show is “Property Brothers,” where real estate agent Drew and inspector Jonathan Scott help homebuyers find houses that are in less-than-perfect condition and renovate them. The home owners usually end up spending a lot more money than they had hoped.

What is being called “possibly the worst” of these shows is “Flipped Man.” Brothers Russell and Shawn Hantz find and buy properties that are in bad condition in the Houston area and flip them for a profit. Once the brothers find a property they want, the nightmare begins.

To make things worst, homebuyers who do not have their homes inspected usually get unpleasant surprises later, from $8,000 in plumbing repair to to $7,000 in stolen pipes from a swimming pool.

“That’s the kind of thing that can make a prospective house buyer decide that raising two kids in a cramped one-bedroom apartment isn’t so bad after all,” wrote Gezlinger.

Interestingly, Lisa Dempsey, a branch manager for Prudential Gary Greene Realtors, said in an interview with Houston Agent that nobody in her local market has been dissuaded from homeownership by any of the aforementioned shows, and recent trends, in fact, suggest the very opposite.

Dempsey cited statistics from the National Association of Realtors and other sources (many of which we’ve reported on before) that point to a renewed interest in homeownership, that owning a home is still an essential component to the American Dream.

Also, Dempsey said such programs could even help prospective buyers in their home search. Though she did say that programs such as “House Hunters” and other real estate-themed shows can create unrealistic expectations in buyers (never will buyers visit three homes and immediately find their perfect house), programs of the renovation/inspection bend can teach homebuyers to be more cognizant of a home’s many features while they are touring the premises.

So whether its the home’s furnace, or its molding or its appliances and dry wall, the buyers will be more in-tune with its features because they saw like-minded individuals addressing them on television – and what the potential costs could be for not doing so.

“They will be more engaged in the process because they’ve seen what could happen,” Dempsey said.

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  • Oneal Texada says:

    Great comments on how buyers will be more focused when visiting a property to buy.

  • I agree completely with Lisa Dempsey. These shows provide much more benefit than harm. They help to begin the education process of home buying. Sure, we may have help a new client understand that buying process is not exactly like what they saw on TV and that is OK. The good news is they are using these shows to start the education process. Any education helps a potential buyer from making a purchase that they are not prepared for. This in turn is a benefit for everyone as it may help prevent another foreclosure in the market We believe it is the agents responsibility through their fiduciary role with the client to educate them about the specifics in their geographic area.

    Lisa Dempsey, great feedback in your interview. Keep up the great work!

  • patricia lowery says:

    My name is Patricia Lowery and need a home renovation… please help me I work 12hrs a day and love it but so my home as much. Your show inspire me to be better and live better

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