Beware of TV Real Estate

Real Estate Agent with Looking Glass Realty

I love watching TV real estate shows like House Hunters, but mostly for their comedic value.  Seriously. That show, andReal Estate TV others like it, are a really good "pick me up" if I'm needing a laugh. 

Unfortunately, buyers and sellers who also watch shows like this stand the risk of developing very warped ideas and expectations about how the process of buying or selling a home really works. Well, at least how it works on the planet where I live.

Let's take a look at 3 misleading and often false expectations created by these shows:

False Expectation Number 1. How many homes does a buyer need to see before making a decision? No, this isn't a trick question and there is no right or wrong answer, but on these shows, the answer is usually 3. Just 3. Maybe the markets where these shows are staged are different than here in Brevard, NC where I work but I doubt it. Over the years, I can't think of a single client who has made a buying decision after looking at only 3 homes. Maybe 13, maybe even 30, but never only 3. For most people, buying a home is the largest financial decision they will ever make and limiting your choices to only 3 is not realistic. Hey, when I buy bananas, I look at more than three. Why would I lead a buyer to believe they will find their dream home among the three I have decided to show them.

False Expectation Number 2. The listing price versus the purchase price. I realize you can't squeeze every detail into a 60 minute episode, but you never hear the agent discuss the listing price versus what the buyer should offer or should expect to pay based on comps and the overall market. Isn't part of the agent's job to negotiate a good price for the client? Yet, there is never even a mention about the process of negotiating. Plenty of deals fall apart because buyers and sellers can't come to terms on a price.  Negotiating the price is a huge part of making any real estate deal work and to leave that out of the equation is like leaving the yeast out of bread, oil out of a car, chocolate out of chocolate chip get the idea. It just doesn't work.

False Expectation Number 3. Inspections. Maybe these unsuspecting buyers are willing to buy a home without having a full inspection, but it's not something I would ever advise doing. I suspect that talking about inspections on these shows doesn't make for good TV, but at least it would be a little more reflective of what actually happens...or should happen. To not even mention the importance of a home inspection or eluding to the fact that one would be done is not painting the whole picture of the buying process.

So what should a buyer be expecting? They should expect to see a lot more than three homes for starters. On average, I'd say it takes at least 10 before a buyer either makes a choice or reevaluates their expectations.  A buyer should also not expect to pay full price. Why should they? This is still very much a buyer's market and they should expect their agent to know what similar properties are selling for and be able to come up with an offer that reflects the market trends.  A buyer should also expect, no...make that demand a home inspection. If you are working with an agent who doesn't recommend an inspection....or one that doesn't help you understand an inspection report, you have the wrong agent.

Between the internet and the new real estate TV shows, buyers are much more "knowledgeable" than ever before. I'm just not convinced that all this "knowledge" isn't doing a disservice. Buying a home takes time and it takes a knowledable agent to help guide you through the process. I'd like to see these TV real estate shows become a little more "Survivor" and a little less "Ozzie and Harriet".


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Wika Hutchinson
Eugene, OR
Great post Carol. I have only watched the show couple times at the gym while working on EFX machine so I don 't have enough information to form an opinion about the show. However, I agree with you. We have fiduciary duty to our clients; do what's best for them.
Feb 05, 2013 05:43 AM
M. Lynn Delatte
Developers Realty - Broadview Heights, OH

I would add a False Expectation #4:  The deal always goes through smoothly, the offer is always accepted, and there are none of the problems that we know invariably crop up the week before closing is supposed to happen.

Feb 05, 2013 05:45 AM
Carol Clay
Looking Glass Realty - Brevard, NC
Broker/REALTOR, Brevard NC Real Estate Specialist

Good point Lynn! I suspect this list of False Expectations could get quite long.


Feb 05, 2013 06:02 AM