No bust for real estate TV

From the Chicago Tribune:

No housing slump in reality TV ratings

The sagging housing market makes for good television.

Apparently it doesn’t matter that annual rate of home sales nationwide are down 10.7 percent: The real estate boom is alive and well on cable TV.

The networks have crafted entertainment out of fluffing up homes for sale, chronicling the travails of amateurs trying to flip houses for profit or tagging along with realty agents as they angle for a listing.

“Even with the slowing housing market, it doesn’t take away people’s interest,” said Frances Berwick, executive vice president of programming and production for Bravo, which has two titles in the works. “If anything, it makes people slightly more crazy about following it.”

And the real estate obsessed can choose from at least two dozen shows. From “Property Ladder” to “Flip This House” (not to be confused with “Flip That House”) to “National Open House,” the list is long and getting longer.

And the winding down of the housing boom makes no difference.

“As the market changes, as people become more concerned about their investment or their ability to attain their dream home, the more they want info,” Sykes said.

“The programs are somewhat marketproof,” agreed StarLink executive Miraj Parikh, who said the shows’ appeal swings both ways. When housing was flying, viewers watched to snoop on how many multiple offers the other guy got, he said.

“In a marketplace like we’re in right now, maybe it’s harder to sell your house,” he said. “[The viewer is] using these programs as a benchmark of whether the market is good again.”

But in real estate TV, as in real life, happy endings are no longer guaranteed.

Ralph and Nancy Baumel have learned both lessons. Extremely frustrated when, after nearly a year on the market, their Park Ridge home’s “for sale” sign seemed to be a permanent fixture, they wrote to HGTV’s “Designed to Sell.”

The show this month sent in a designer with $2,000 for materials and a construction crew to make over their living room and conduct an open house.

The couple like the changes but, unlike the outcome typically depicted on the nightly show, no buyer materialized. Still, the Baumels weren’t particularly surprised.

“They say [on the show] they have multiple offers, and they’re above the asking price” because of the makeover, said Ralph Baumel. “I think that if this was an active market, maybe that would be possible. We were just doing it because we were asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to get a leg up on this horrible market?’ “

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13 Responses to No bust for real estate TV

  1. thatbigwindow says:

    “…we were asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to get a leg up on this horrible market?”

    How about lower the price?

  2. curiousd says:

    its true… these shows are part of our DNA… some deep nesting/social/property ownership/emotional link that can be easily explained.

    in the UK, BBC runs at least 5 different programs…all of them are ‘a smashing success’.

  3. James Bednar says:

    I often wonder if this site is in a similar category as those shows..


  4. cynicalgirl says:

    This brings up a good point.

    I’m wondering how much some of these improvements actually add on to the value of a home.

    I know someone who wants to sell his home in Sayreville, but believes adding another bathroom would make it more valuable. All of the other homes in his neighborhood have 3 brs and 1 bath, maybe if there are 2 baths, it will sell faster?

    Will a 20k investment make a $250k home worth $280k? Will it make it sell faster, given the amount of time the renovation will take? I doubt it.

  5. James Bednar says:

    I’m wondering how much some of these improvements actually add on to the value of a home.

    Historically, some percentage of the cost of the improvement. It’s very rare for an improvement to add more value than it actually cost.

    The exception(s) to this are fixing critical defects (that make the home essentially unsalable), and sweat equity (but only if the sweat is qualified to actually make an improvement, and isn’t just doing a hack-job).


  6. James Bednar says:

    There is another exception, but it’s rare in this case, and that would be to modify a property so that it is being used for it’s “highest and best use”. This really isn’t applicable here since it typically involves zoning changes.


  7. cynicalgirl says:

    I thought so. Thanks for the sanity check. His first mistake was buying a new house before selling the old.

  8. UnRealtor says:

    “It’s very rare for an improvement to add more value than it actually cost.”

    Except for the dummies paying $15K and up for “granite counters” thrown in by flippers and regular sellers fishing for dummies.

    I’ve actually seen granite thrown on ancient 1040s cabinets that need to be demolished ASAP. Most buyers are idiots, and just see “granite counters.”

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