Reality TV vs. Reality Realty


By Christine Groves, Licensed Broker, Realtor®

Like a lot of people, you can find me watching one of those great real estate shows featuring home buyers and home renovators. As a real estate professional, my family finds it humorous that I continue to think of real estate during my down-time, but those television shows are so entertaining. Buying your first home, home transformations from outdated to updated, property flipping, DIY projects, etc. is great reality television. However, the perception of what the process is really like differs greatly. So many of my clients are surprised at the reality of the home buying and home renovation process that I thought it best to clarify 3 glaring differences between reality television and the reality of real estate:

  1. TIMELINE – In a half hour or hour television program, the journey of a homeowner or home buyer is portrayed from start to finish. Viewers wait for the happy ending when a home is transformed from blah to beautiful, property virgins find the perfect home to call their own, and investors flip a revived home for a tidy profit. Most shows take you through this nail-biting process over the course of days or weeks, when in reality all good opportunities take time with lots of potential delays and trials of patience. Home buyers do not typically see three homes and then pick one, designers and contractors do not usually transform our homes in a week, and investors don’t ever buy a home to renovate and sell at a profit 30 days later. In reality, a home search can take a lot of homework and seeing several homes before finding what truly works for you; a home renovation can take months of planning, contractors, and dust; a home flip is far more complicated and risky, taking great resources and determination. One of the biggest investments in life is not supposed to be as easy as television glamorizes.
  2. BUDGET – The idea that you can completely redecorate a room for $1,000 or convert a “hot mess” ready to list for $10,000 or gut kitchen, bathrooms, and load-bearing walls into dream spaces for $40,000 is too good to be true for most people. All good things come with a cost and the majority of us don’t have sponsors and limitless resources to finance our transformations. Whenever considering a home project or renovation, you must have enough of a budget for quality materials and quality contractors. Shop for bargains, obtain several estimates and referrals, and work with people that respect your budget. Be prepared for unforeseen additional construction costs and changes to closing/moving expenses. Real estate is a long-term investment and not an area to cut corners.
  3. DETAILS – So many of my clients say to me “buying/selling a home is so much more complicated than I thought” which is followed-up by their appreciation for having a real estate professional’s help. Buying a home is not as simple as “I want that one, do you take credit cards?” Renovating a home is not “please transform my home, I will be back next week.” All good things come to those who wait…..which means hard work, big decisions, and patience. Ratings for reality shows would drastically drop if you had to watch hours of documents, legal issues, market statistics, permits, lender underwriting, phone calls, emails, etc. The key is to find the right professionals to guide you through a complicated process and maximize your outcome.

Real estate demands realistic expectations. Do your homework and work with experienced professionals. Instead of waiting for a camera crew to show up and make your dreams come true, you need to make things happen by hiring the right people for the job and making well-thought decisions. The end result is actually better than what you see on television because it’s your home.


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