I’m sure you all have noticed the popularity surge of real estate reality TV shows. It started with the success of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Then it really caught on when HGTV rolled out a slew of real estate shows and soon became much more Home and much less Garden.
House Hunters, What You Get for the Money, Flip This House and Moving Up. It’s pleasurable to watch other people turn fixer-uppers into contemporary living spaces or young families moving up in the world to purchase 5 bedroom, 4 bath homes in nice neighborhoods.
These shows were great to watch because they were an escape from reality. You may not be able to buy a home, but it’s fun to live vicariously through others who can. But I think there’s only so much one can take of watching an overly confident REALTOR in a show like Million Dollar Listing sell homes for 20 million dollars while some modest homes are getting foreclosed on – and their owners kicked out on the street...
Well it looks like reality TV is finally choosing to reflect the current market...
Introducing HGTV’s Real Estate Intervention. The show takes struggling sellers on a tour of other listings in the same price range and same area to see if they are pricing their home realistically compared to the competition. Your hosts are Sabrina Soto, the gentle REALTOR who is sweet as pie to the often sensitive and defeated homeowners and Mike Aubrey, the tough-looking real estate expert with a military background who takes the direct approach and tells the homeowners that it’s time to face the facts.
This show is not exactly the light-hearted fluff that we are used to with home buying shows. In fact, it’s pretty heartbreaking. Take Evelyn who lost her job 6 months ago and can no longer afford to stay in her beloved townhome in the pricey neighborhood of Georgetown in Washington, DC. She has put a lot of work into her home – and a lot of personal touches. With every comparable home that Aubrey shows her, she refuses to accept that any of them are more valuable than hers. To the audience, she seems so obviously blind to what she needs to accept. She may have updated her kitchen with a blue tile backsplash that she thought adds an upgraded finish, but Mike needs to explain to her that granite countertops and stainless steel appliances is what makes a home show well.
Or what about Rebekka who was so proud of buying her first home three years ago, at the height of the market, when she could afford the mortgage. When the rate adjusted, she found herself drowning in her interest-only loan. Now she has to sell her home, but she has no money to make updates or renovations. On top of it all, her mom has terminal cancer and she wants to get home to take care of her. She has priced her home at $259,900. She owes $240,000 in payments. When they find a comparable home in much better shape at $243,500, Aubrey must break it to her that $209,000 is about all she going to get for her home and that a short sale is the best way to go. Sitting in her small dining area, we watch her cover her head in disappointment as she takes in the depth of what Aubrey is telling her.
It can’t be easy to accept that the home that was, at one time, a great investment is now worth a fraction of its expected value. And of course it’s human nature to put high value in what you own because you know what it’s worth to you.
These people in this show are real. They’re our family, our neighbors, ourselves – accepting they can no longer afford to live in the homes where memories have been made. It’s nice to see a reality show actually reflecting reality. It’s just unfortunate that reality isn’t always pretty. But hey, it’s still VERY interesting to watch!
Real Estate Intervention: Four Stars ****