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Reality TV on Real Estate: Is it Worth Watching?

Real estate is sprouting up as the central character on so many reality TV shows these days. No one could have predicted this kind of success! Who would have thought reality TV shows about real estate and home buying would become so wildly popular? But some of these reality shows such as the ones featured on HGTV and TLC are supporting entire networks!

As a realtor, I thought you’d find it interesting to hear my unique perspective and reviews of some of the most popular real estate reality shows. Are they realistic representations? Is the home buying process actually as it is portrayed?

‘Real Estate Reality Shows are Like a Mini Course’

A recent article on US News & World Report titled Real Estate Reality TV Shows: Fact vs. Fiction got me thinking about real estate reality television. The article’s author, Susan Johnston, calls out some of these so-called “reality” shows for depicting real life situations that simply are not, but instead are staged representations of what would likely happen. While I agree that reality TV is not always real—how could it be in a 22 minute condensed version—there are some very accurate and practical aspects of putting the home buying process on TV. In Johnston’s article, according to Herman Chan, a San Francisco real estate broker who’s appeared on HGTV’s “House Hunters” and “My Home is Worth What?” he points out that despite the condensed nature of reality TV he believes that these shows can serve a purpose. Says Chan:

Before the proliferation of reality TV, your only information as a consumer was what your real estate agent was telling you and friend’s anecdotal experience. The real estate reality shows are almost like a mini course: Ask about the foundation, or this is how to act at an open house.

I agree with Mr. Chan. Below are my top three reviews of what I consider to be the top “reality” real estate-based TV shows currently on the air.

For the Fun Factor…

Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing NY is a hoot. It makes real estate much more about drama than it actually is, at least from this realtor’s point of view. But I like the show and apparently so do the viewers. According to an article in TV By the Numbers, it had its best premiere ratings ever last week. But the show also gives a glimpse into the world of the realtor. What one has to do get a listing sold at the seller’s asking price and some of the challenges that come along with that – even if a bit staged. But from a purely fun point of view, I give it a B+!

Real Estate with a Twist

For its “interesting twist” factor, The Property Brothers on HGTV is a best bet. The two Scott brothers, Drew and Jonathan—realtor and contractor respectively—sell the dream to couples who want their dream home but can’t actually afford to buy it as-is. So the Scott brothers sell clients fixer-uppers instead and ask the couples to reimagine the possibilities. Then they bid, purchase, and fix it up. The cool factor on the show is that Jonathan presents CGI designs to show the clients what it could look like! The Property Brothers gets an A for its cool twists and use of advanced design technology.

HGTV HouseHunters

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a wee bit biased with this particular choice because not only do I love HouseHunters, but I was a featured realtor on an episode titled New Parents Look for A Home With Good Feng Shui in LA. But honestly, HGTV HouseHunters earns my highest rating of A+, for two reasons. First I love that they show couples who have opposing ideas of what they want and then have to compromise. That is reality. I also love that they show the process of showing and buying – it really is a ‘mini course’ as described earlier. And lastly I like that HGTV features real estate all over the country.

Reality v. Entertainment

Reality TV definitely gives you an encapsulated version of the buying process. For instance, people on TV look at two or three homes before they buy when in reality it’s more like 10 or more. And it can sometimes be a very long process, much longer than is portrayed. But if in addition to entertaining, it inspires nervous or edgy first-time buyers to stick their toes in the housing market, I’m all for it.

For more information on anything covered in this article or to view or list a home, contact Lydia Gable for a consultation.

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