Real estate reality shows on television are quite popular these days. There’s something very interesting about watching homebuyers navigate the process of searching for a home to making an offer. Many shows even take viewers beyond closing and show them how many new homeowners renovate and upgrade the homes just purchased.
But as entertaining as these shows can be, how realistic are they? It turns out, they really don’t paint the full picture of what the true homebuying process is like.
A lot of details are left out of these shows. Of course, producers want to make sure that these programs are as interesting to the viewer as possible, and as such, they tend to only include parts that would hold a person’s attention. There are several components of buying real estate that may be too “boring” for television, and so they’re left out.
But it’s important for buyers to understand this fact in order to avoid going into a real estate transaction without being fully prepped for the process.
Many of these shows depict house hunters quickly looking through a handful of homes, usually a maximum of three (that are shown on the program). Then, they’re put in a position to make an offer based on only those few homes that they see, even if they don’t seem entirely keen on any one of them. An offer is submitted quickly, and the deal is done in a matter of minutes, or so it seems.
In some cases, these shows may actually fast-forward the process and only start the show after the buyers have already chosen a home and may have even submitted an offer that’s been accepted by the seller. Any other homes shown are only thrown into the mix to help viewers make their own decisions about which property should be picked. It makes the program more interesting and almost like a game show.
When it comes to “reality” TV, it should come as no surprise that much of what is shown is probably staged to some degree. After all, the show must be entertaining or it’ll lose viewers. As such, producers will try their best to tweak things in order to make these programs more intriguing.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, buyers – especially first-timers – should be made aware of this fact, as it could skew their perceptions of what the buying process is really like and what they can actually expect from the process.
Why Homebuying Shows Can Be Deceiving
Television is meant to entertain, but it can also be used to educate as well. The problem with some reality house-hunting shows is that they can be a bit inaccurate in many ways.
For starters, many of these shows only include a handful of properties. Are buyers to believe that the people hunting for a home on the show only see these specific properties before making a decision about which one to purchase? In reality, it’s most likely possible that the buyers in the show have already seen dozens of homes before choosing the one they eventually purchase. But since these shows are only half an hour to an hour long, it would be impossible to cram them all into one episode. Real-world buyers should be aware of this potential fact.
In the real world, buyers are encouraged to see a lot more than that before settling on one. Considering how expensive this massive purchase is, it makes sense to see as many as possible for comparison purposes before making a final decision.
These shows also don’t go into detail about the negotiation process. They may tell viewers what the initial offer is and what the final accepted price is, but there is no back-and-forth bantering shown on TV that displays how the final sale price as arrived at. Negotiating is a critical piece of the puzzle and is something that buyers should be made aware of.
There is often no mention made about the market conditions in the area that the buyers are looking in. What is the price of an average home in the area? How much have similar homes in the neighborhood recently sold for? What is the community like? Is the location ideal for commuting to and from work? Was a home inspection done? If so, what was the outcome? There are so many little details involved in buying real estate that is usually not covered in these shows.
And then there’s the issue of financing. Have the buyers been pre-approved for a mortgage? What is the process that they go through to secure financing? Sure, these are not exciting details involved in the homebuying process, which is likely why they don’t make the editing cut. But the topic of financing is a crucial one that all buyers need to seriously consider.
Real estate agents on the show also don’t seem to do much, either. They basically unlock the door and let the buyers take a gander at the homes. Then, they just seem to let the buyers make their own decision about the properties they see. But this is unlike what agents in the real world will actually do. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes work that goes on in buying real estate, and what agents actually do is not reflected in house hunting television shows.
The Bottom Line
Reality homebuying shows are definitely fun to watch. And in many cases, you may even be able to learn a thing or two about buying a house. But for the most part, these shows can be misleading and leave out a ton of critical information that is essential for making the right homebuying decision.
At the end of the day, actual buyers should only take these shows with a grain of salt and hire a professional real estate agent to walk them through the real-life process of buying a home. Getting educated on the real estate procedure and the market is important to understand what can really be expected of the homebuying process.