Getting Real About Home Makeover Shows

For many, the thought of updating a home that has been either loved and lived in “as is” for many years or damaged or neglected holds much promise and excitement. The idea of restoring a home that has seen better days or redesigning an older floorplan to make it more comfortable or functional – of creating a space that is custom-made for your family while increasing the value of your home – is for some necessary, for others tempting, and for still others, the only way to really make a house a home.

In recent years, the popularity of HGTV shows that depict house flips has skyrocketed.  We can entertain ourselves with our favorite makeover shows episode after episode on an endless loop, all the while reinforcing the fantasy that our dream home is waiting and ready for our elaborate plans and magical budgets.

As interesting, entertaining and addictive as these shows are, they may be a bit misleading for anyone who is unfamiliar with the realities of buying, selling and renovating houses.

The first misconception involves renovation budgets. Most of these scripted and produced episodes portray people with big plans, and budgets that are tight enough to make it interesting but large enough to be generally close to what is needed.  Each show usually includes a token issue that blows the budget, causing something about the original plan to be sacrificed. While this does aim to mirror reality, most contractors can tell you that it is practically impossible to estimate a big job accurately until the walls are opened up.  It is only then that you really know what is needed in terms of labor and materials. The token issues represented are likely more par for the course than the shocking revelation they are made out to be.

The second big factor that tends to be glossed over in some of our favorite home makeover shows is the cost and effort of transferring real estate.  By design, these shows always leave the homeowners with significantly more equity than what they spent on improvements. In many cases, this can be accurate.  However, an updated house is no ATM machine! To access this money,the home has to actually be sold, and this will involve things like legal fees, closing costs and commissions. Also remember that appraisals are not perfectly predictable. A home might be valued higher or lower than one might expect.

Admittedly, we at the Kelly Blanchard Real Estate Group love these shows as much as you do.  We find them entertaining and inspiring. In real life, we love seeing our clients take a home and make it their own. We do hope you remember as you dream and plan and enjoy demo day that your remodel or flip most likely will not feel as entertaining or easy as those you watch on tv.  However, if you keep your expectations firmly planted in reality, while there will be budget discrepancies, delays and setbacks, improving real estate can be an incredibly rewarding experience that can add value to your home and years of enjoyment for your family.

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