By SHANNON MILLIGAN
HGTV is a fun escape for many of us and a glimpse into the world of all things real estate and do-it-yourself. Even though I can work up to 80 hours a week as a Richmond, Virginia, Realtor, I still indulge in an episode of “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers” and “Flip or Flop” from time to time.
However, being in the business allows me to take each program with a grain of salt. For example, in real life it often takes more than three homes for a client to make a decision with several contingencies involved (home inspection, appraisal, securing financing, etc.); it costs more than $8,000 for a kitchen renovation; and there isn’t always a hefty profit on a flipped property. When consumers watch these programs and they have no education in the subject at hand, an illness sets in. It is something I call HGTV Syndrome!
What are the symptoms of HGTV Syndrome?
Symptoms of HGTV Syndrome can vary from person to person; however, some common attributes are listed below:
- Do you feel as though black and white appliances are old, even if they are brand-new?
- Is “Formica” a word that makes your stomach churn?
- Do you believe everything should be perfect when purchasing a resale home?
- Is your budget for a full kitchen renovation (demolition, new cabinets, travertine flooring, appliances, backsplash, lighting and accessories) $10,000?
- Do you think flipping a house for profit is easy without many pitfalls?
If you have answered yes to any one of these questions, you need to seek immediate help.
Who is at risk for HGTV Syndrome?
So, who is susceptible to HGTV Syndrome? First-time homebuyers; those who have not purchased a home since the inception of HGTV; do-it-yourselfers; doctors; firefighters; lawyers; teachers; financial experts; and, yes, even real estate agents can come down with a case of HGTV Syndrome.
Case in point: I recently had an offer on a listing where the buyer came in almost $50,000 under the asking price. Their agent “justified” the low offer by saying, “My clients are estimating $40K in upgrades, such as removing the popcorn ceiling, upgrading the HVAC, painting the entire inside, replacing the roof, and upgrading the appliances.” My clients thanked them for the offer and declined.
My response was that their justification was based on cosmetic/personal preferences and speculation of defects to which there is no knowledge. To date, the appliances, although cream, work great; the paint is not bright red but a nice neutral color; and there are no known defects to the HVAC or roof. In my professional opinion, the buyer and the agent have a case of HGTV Syndrome!
What is the cure for HGTV Syndrome?
How can you be sure you don’t come down with a case of HGTV Syndrome? Take a preventative, healthy dose of reality by speaking with a real estate professional who is armed with the knowledge and perspective to ward off any hint of unrealistic expectations. A skilled Realtor will take the pulse on the features or attributes of homes in each neighborhood and will give you a detailed assessment on what to expect in a certain community. In some subdivisions it may be the norm to have granite countertops — thus, if the home you are considering does not, then your expectation is warranted. In other areas, it may be that popcorn ceilings and older appliances are the norm, and to expect a seller to drop their price so you can upgrade to your own personal taste is not considered reasonable.