Real estate reality TV shows: fact vs. fiction

SAN FRANCISCO – May 14, 2013 – Network television offers a slew of reality shows that supposedly give viewers an inside glimpse into the home buying process, but the programs aren’t necessarily a true representation of the real-world experience.

San Francisco-based realty broker Herman Chan, a previous guest on two HGTV reality shows, notes that much of it is staged. Moreover, the shows mainly cover the fun parts of homebuying and ignore the unglamorous aspects. For example, viewers rarely see house shoppers selecting a property agent, meeting with home inspectors or applying for a mortgage.

“It’s a very condensed version of what to expect,” says Chan, who agrees the shows focus on the happy moments. “Afterward is when it gets problematic,” he says. “What if the appraisal doesn’t come in, or there are whackadoo neighbors?”

In addition, the listings featured on TV shows suggest that they’re clean and well lit. But in reality, Chan says, “Babies might be crying or peoples’ laundry might be hanging in the background.”

However, Chan and other realty professionals say that actually could help by convincing sellers to “up their game.”

Janice Leis – who handles properties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida – says sellers “can learn that you need to clean out your house, you need to paint it. The outside needs to be cleaned up, and you need to take furniture out. (Reality TV) shows sellers what’s important to the masses of people that are out there looking.”

Buyers can also learn a thing or two from the reality shows, even if the examples deviate from real life.

Especially useful, Leis and Chan say, are home buying shows that ask buyers to list their needs and wants first. They say it also helps buyers by getting them to expect some compromises along the way.

As Chan puts it: “There’s no perfect house.”

Source: U.S. News & World Report (05/13/13) Johnston, Susan