7 Ways TV Flipping Shows Are Completely Fake (As Any REAL Investor Knows!)

by | BiggerPockets.com

Lets start of with a quote by your very own and favorite Dingo:

“Real estate isn’t supposed to be pretty. It’s supposed to be profitable.” — Engelo Rumora

And with that little-but-important fact out of the way, I want to arrive at the point of my article today: Reality TV flipping shows suck. It’s one of those things that really grinds my gears. They show a world that’s too pretty, too good to be true, and too much like a fairy tale’s world. True, it does lead to people getting interested in the business and lots of viewership, but imagine when a prospective real estate investor starts to believe that a home that looks like a dump can be converted into something that looks like the average Disney castle — all for low costs and great profits and, of course, delivered within unbelievable timeframes.

I’m sure you get my drift. So, the next time you turn on the TV and stumble across a flipping show, I suggest that you replace those rose tinted glasses with real ones and consider these two points I’m about to make.

This advice is especially for those new wannabe real estate investors, who use these shows as educational material and the reason they invest their savings and start off. Let me warn you that over time, I’ve heard of many people like that who have actually left the comfort of their good-paying jobs to venture into real estate with terrible consequences. So, this post is for those who take shows like that seriously and for those who want to get into real estate based on the beautiful world presented by them.


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Smoke and Mirrors

To investors like me, most reality TV flipping shows are downright scary. And that’s because they make the average viewer think that they too could invest just a little money, turn a house around, and sell it for sky-high profits. These shows often make the investors look like knights in shining armor, but those who’ve worked in real estate can tell you that most of the figures they show on TV are bogus. Look closely at any of the shows, and you’ll notice. You have to trust me on this, as I have already been approached by 7+ production companies and refuse to “act” unless I know I can be myself and that everything filmed will be the real deal.

1. Math Missing

Most of the numbers are fake and have been created for the show. For one, notice how the rehab costs are always undervalued. They don’t take many costs into account. Things like fees, holding costs, commissions, closing costs, etc. are all left out. In fact, the next time you watch a show like that, I recommend that you take a look at the actual market rates for the region and do your own math. You’ll figure it out, too. The numbers seldom add up, and that alone reveals how scripted the shows are. In some instances, even the end sales price is manipulated. What a bloody joke.

2. Buyers Galore

The shows portray that there are always plenty of buyers lined up just to buy the house. (In fact, you’d also feel that houses suited to flip are easily found in the market. But in reality, it requires a decent understanding about the market and takes plenty of research, too.) Well, a real investor has to work really hard, not just to find houses to flip, but also to find buyers who’d be interested in picking up the property.

Related: Think Flipping’s as Easy as it Looks on TV? My Story Will Change Your Mind!

3. Too Quick

Real estate is a time-consuming process. It takes some time to find a house and buy it. And it takes even longer to renovate it and finally sell it off. However, these episodes show quick turnaround times with massive renovations as well. The program makes real estate appear as a get-rich-quick platform, luring in unsuspecting people.

4. Know-it-All Investors

These real estate investors seem to be of the know-it-all kind. They’re seldom involved in doing any research. In fact, most of them just know the costs, repairs needed, market information and have all the data inside their head. They’re never found researching, comparing and learning, which is rather unusual for a dynamic market like real estate.

5. Too Dramatic

They have too much drama, and the investors are seen shouting at each other, commanding people to get work done. In a real life scenario, treating colleagues and workers like that would never keep the real estate investor in the market for long (unless you have an Aussie accent like me, and everyone thinks it’s funny when you curse).

6. Posh

Their personalities! It is hard to see real estate investors wearing expensive suits and accessories, driving huge cars, and then bargaining on small costs. A real estate investor is always a people’s person because that’s the community where he buys and sells, but these shows make real estate investors seem like pompous and rich people — which most are not, in case you were wondering. This is a “Bloody Joke #2.” I can’t tell you how much it pisses me off seeing someone wearing a $10,000 Rolex and sanding floorboards.

7. Clearly Scripted

You can really make out how scripted the show is when you look at it closely. For example, in one of the shows, the real estate investor proudly announces at the start that he’s made a deal without even seeing a property. He also announces with pride that he’s sure to make a profit out of it. And then he approaches the property saying that he has to do something about the water problem.

Which brings us to, how did he know about the problem without seeing the house at all? Also, no real estate investor in their right frame of mind would buy a property and make announcements like that without ever even seeing it! The scenes and dialogues are always scripted, and any real estate investor will tell you exactly that.


Money Making Schemes

If there’s one way to over-glorify real estate, it is to create a TV real estate flipping show. This is where the down to earth real estate investor becomes the suited hero of the show, where issues become challenges, and where there’s always a happy ending, no matter what.

The hard reality of real estate is much different, and these programs are often money minting schemes. They are made for pure entertainment and have zero educational value. Which brings us to the question: If there’s very little profit to be made through reality flipping shows, then what’s in it for the makers of those shows? Why are they making a show that will not generate house sales at all? Well, there is profit for them, and it comes from other sources.

1. Rags to Riches Stories

A few episodes of shows like this, and you’re convinced that you too can dump your savings into a business  and make a fortune flipping houses without any experience. In fact, scour the internet, and you’ll come across many cases where people have dumped their savings to make fortunes in real estate. It really isn’t that simple and requires a lot of learning, preparing, and smart investing techniques. Most importantly, it needs plenty of financial investment along with the experience.

Related: House Flipping Reality TV Shows: Good or Bad for Newbie Investors and Flippers?

2. Promoting Boot Camps

Notice how some of the episodes actually promote their boot camps. Many wannabe real estate investors have  put in money to learn from the so-called television experts so that they too can get rich quickly. In fact, if you really check the profiles of online real estate investors, you’ll be surprised at how under-qualified and inexperienced some of them are. The Ripoff Report and the first three pages of Google are your best friends. There are too many scammers, so BE WARNED.

3. Build Star Appeal

These shows are about building star appeal. A person who features in one of the seasons of any such show has made himself/herself noticeable to a wide audience. This can help them charge more for their services because television has made them a star. In fact, most real estate investors use this platform to build their credibility, something they can easily cash out on.

4. Sell Courses

Their popularity makes it easier for them to sell their courses, seminars, and other material for subscribers. In fact, that’s the primary reason why they’re out there. And this, my friends, is “Bloody Joke #3.” Don’t do it. Find a local mentor who is already making it happen with their real estate investing and brush shoulder with him or her as much as possible.

5. Investors Left High & Dry

In some cases, money is made through a house sale, and the mastermind behind the show keeps it all while unsuspecting investors end up spending too much and are left high and dry.

6. Ad Revenue

Advertisements and free promotions for the people who star on the show are perhaps the most common revenue generators for the show. And so, I insist time and again that people shouldn’t watch these shows for educational value but only for their entertainment value. Please don’t hate me if I one day do an ad for the Outback Steakhouse. They have pretty decent steaks. 🙂

It may be called reality TV, but really, there’s nothing real about it. They’re tempting enough to make you want to invest, but very few of those who’ve tried this form of investing have actually succeeded.

All that being said, while current television is guilty of misrepresenting how real estate transactions take place in the real world, it definitely is a great medium for educating people about real estate. However, real real estate investors need to take center stage — no more actors. Shows like this should be cautious of the kind of cast they choose. They should also promote real estate practices that are believable and show the hard facts of real estate over its glory. Only when the right people show the right way that real estate works will these shows will have meaning. If you really want to learn about real estate, get out there and work with the right experts who have real experience — not the televised versions.

Investors: What do YOU think? Do any of these shows portray anything close to reality?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Engelo Rumora

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a.”the Real Estate Dingo,” quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate all over the world and has bought, renovated, and sold over 500 properties. He runs runs Ohio Cashflow, a turnkey real estate investment company in the country (Inc 5000 2017 & 2018) and is currently in the process of launching a real estate brokerage called List’n Sell Realty. He is also known for giving houses away to people in need and his crazy videos on YouTube. His mission in life is to be remembered as someone that gave it his all and gave it all away.


  1. Michael Begley

    We recognize them for the “entertainment” they are, especially after friends of ours appeared on a show that “helped them” choose between one of three beach houses. They had already purchased the house before the filming started.
    But we do credit flip shows with getting us into real estate investing. “We can do better than THAT!” we thought. Cut our teeth on a couple flips, then began with rentals, have done about 16 deals in six years. And we still watch the shows!

  2. Bo Wagner

    Mea culpa, I watch several of these shows! Yes, they are entertaining, but at the end of the day, let’s be real–anyone reading this site knows that there is a LOT more to the real estate business! My favorite from some of the shows? I love the shot of one of the stars doing something REALLY important (sarcasm?) like laying ONE tile or ONE piece of hardwood (or fluffing ONE pillow). Gee, after seeing that I really feel they know EVERYTHING about flipping houses based on that! Riiiiiiiggghhhhttttt…..! (Make sure to wipe that mortar off your watch before it dries ; )

  3. Ron Biggs

    I agree with you 100% and in fact you were too kind!

    I was also contacted by a network a few years back and in fact even did a demo tape or whatever you called as instructed by the network. But we did not make the final cut! Probably weren’t pretty enough and young enough but probably knew we couldn’t or wouldn’t do the fake thing.

    I have always wondered why a real show would not be a big hit and by real I mean real numbers and real processes it takes to do this business. My wife says the shows that are on now “I love to hate” but yes we still watch them anyway.

    I have often wondered how many people have lost their savings due to the rosy way they show this business being done. They always run into these” unforeseen ” problems and lots of them and still come out making a killing!

    We live in the Richmond VA area and always thought they should do a show based here because of the great history and variety of great homes here. I know there are several great “flippers” that would do the city proud but alas no one so far has make the final cut or like you they passed!

    But enjoyed your article and hope it helps saves some people some heartache. But it is a great business and we love doing it ourselves!

    Happy Investing

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Ron,

      The interviews they make you do or demo tapes as you say are all BS. The production companies fish for “talent” without even having a show lined up or planned. I have been through this process so many times now that it feels like we turn down an outfit every week.

      Next step for us is to knock on the doors of decision makers and really push that way as most productions companies are a bunch of penny tight wankers…

      I also promised myself not to sell my soul to the devil once I get a gig. Seminars, courses, masterminds, etc… won’t be a part of my contract. PERIOD. There is no money in the world that would change my opinion on that and I have already stated that via my numerous articles, videos and social media posts. Selling from stage is not my thing.

      Real estate is meant to be profitable and if they want a show, they will get one. But not a fake one.

      Thanks and much success.

    • Bo Wagner

      I think it was a trailer ‘test reel’ as noted (something like “Flipping 24/7”) but that particular project didn’t consummate.

      The key reason J might get a show is Carol ; ) (nothing against his skills as an investor ; )

      • Engelo Rumora


        Yep, they are all about the husband and wide duo or property brother type shows.

        Its time for something new. I’d love to fly around the country kicking folks up the A$$ and showing them the ugly side and what it really takes.

        Not fantasy BS. Think of Gordon Ramsey here hehe


  4. Cody L.

    lol, when I got started in apartments I’d want to learn as much as I could. I’ve installed PLENTY of new flooring, painted, drywalled, etc. All with my nice (not $10k but not far off) watch on.

    Give us hands-on guys some credit 🙂

    • Engelo Rumora

      haha same here mate,

      I renovated the first 5 properties myself and am still willing to dig shit with my guys if needed.

      But not while wearing my Omega hehe

      Just gave it to my dad anyway so now I only have a blue G-Shock.

      Much success and well done. Keep pumping 🙂

    • Engelo Rumora

      If only you knew how many times we crunched the numbers to find huge discrepancies in both purchase and sale prices.

      It the biggest joke ever but the suckiest part of it all is the after process. The “gurus” sell S#[email protected] to poor mum and dad investors at seminars.

      They drop $50,000 – $100,000 on the crap they sell.

      That’s the saddest part mate.

      Everyone reading, please just Google the so called “TV stars” names and the courses they offer. Tons of complaints.

      Or even better, pay for a $35 back round check. Its insane how much crap they do.


  5. Gene Rampenthal

    I would love to see a show that goes into the daily intricacies and steps: finding leads, doing comps and rehab estimates, marketing, negotiating contracts, working with lawyers and title companies, finding reliable contractors, bargaining, steps of wholesaling if that is your option, closing, etc, etc,. Actually I wouldn’t mind being in such a show with a good mentor working with me as I grow a business.

  6. Justin Stamper

    This is a conversation i’d rather always have over a beer but since we are online, here we fo.

    So I am on a show about flipping houses: its called Zombie House Flipping and it is on the FYI network. We got invited to do the show about two years ago and thought it would be fun. A&E and Disney bought it and we just finished our first season. While I cannot speak for any other show, I can speak for mine….
    1.The numbers that we give our producers include all cost, but they choose exactly what they want to include(closing cost, commish, etc)
    2. We sell our homes quick regardless. Luckily my city actually has “buyers galore”
    3. Our times are pretty realistic. We renovate quick and are always putting houses in our pipeline. We are all very involved in our market so wholesalers and agents are constatly alerting us of deals, as well as we are all licensed agents/brokers
    4. I dont know if we are “know it all”ish? I mean we all know real estate and construction pretty well since it has been all of our full time jobs for almost a decade, but idk how I am percieved by other people.
    5. We all hate drama as well,especially amongst ourselves since we are all good friends but unfortunatley I guess watching a house get succesfully renovated is boring LOL. Also, please keep in mind the EDITORS POWERRRRR they are like gods controlling our universe.
    6. Florida is too hot to be posh. Duke does have a porsche though but hes had that for ages and loves racing it. (Keith and duke are indy car certified racers or something like that)
    7. Scripts dont necessarily have a strong hold in our show. We are just non stop improving with our friends…there is a producer who writes down everything we say and then later on when we do our interviews they will recall what we said and we will try and come up with lines to branch off it…it is a constantly involved process and it is actually pretty fun…like writing your own movie on the fly.

    Keep in mind this: we film about 100 hours of hands on interactive footage per renovation episode, and from there hollywood chooses 42 MINUTES….so all that talk where i explain we have to borrow hard money, or that we knew the roof was shot from the second we pulled up, or that we are paying 15k in commissions and CC’s to get the deal done end up on the cutting room floor. We have no control of any of that. I have never been to LA and I have also never seen an episode of our show prior to it airing…every saturday night at 10pm on FYI is the first I see of anything. Literally no idea what story line they even created.

    None of us are gurus, none of us are selling our souls, and none of us really knew what we wanted from the show. We just knew we liked our production company, fcking LOVED our crew who came out to work on our show, and its me flipping houses with 3 of my best friends on TV dickin around and having fun. You want knowledge? Get on BP. You want to see a cute dog and some cool renovations? Kick on FYI and watch Zombie House Flipping. NO REGRETS

      • LOVE Zombie House Flippingy and Texas Flip and Move. However, there is a significant cost in staging homes which I wonder if that cost is included in the total numbers listed. Also, with regard to Texas Flip and Move, when they add porches and extensions, are those included in one move?

  7. These shows fule an industry that act Asa Ponzi scheme that left home buyer in the housing crash hold the bag on buying over priced houses. The fake drama that is used is pathetic, you don’t see it used in This Old House or on Holms episodes. They often don’t used licensed people to do the work and under value the cost of the work! You are not going to get a whole new electrical service replaced from the mast through the panel for $700 buy a licensed electricians!!

  8. Really investors or start ups, I found Bigger Pockets is more about smoke screens than what they really promote. I asked them 3 times to send an Email Verification, and if anyone can’t do that in a limited time period then they are the ones you should steer clear of. Hopefully, in 2017 this bulls hit with those who think they are so smart will wise up only to realize majority does not need their assistance and hyped up stories. I can’t understand when someone claims they are so wealthy they’re the first trying to sell their ideas to others, why with logic would anyone be that stupid! Here is my idea, “I’ll sell you Trump Towers on the 5th Avenue for $1 million US, but I don’t own one inch of the property, but will sell to anyone who wants to know how I got rich selling bulls hit.”

  9. We live in a Historic District frankly wish there were more stories about folks going broke doing this. There are, at last count, three “flippers” in our neighborhood that have managed to completely remove any historic value from several houses here. We call it the “Home Depot” renovation. The signs of the impending loss of a historic home value starts with a dumpster in the driveway. Next, all of the interior walls are torn out – which usually includes any historic, original hardwoods or specialty woodworking features (carved trim on doorways or around windows, for instance). Original hardwood flooring is sometimes ripped out & replaced with whatever low grade wood or composite wood type flooring available from the local flooring shop, especially if the original material is marred (its faster & cheaper to destroy than cleanup & refinish). Original solid wood doors are replaced with hollow doors. Once that’s done, the load of fresh sheet rock shows up and the number of rooms are reduced and modified to make them as large as possible. While that’s going on, all the original appliances and fixtures are loaded on a couple of pickup trucks and driven to the local dump or recycling center. Usually, the exterior is getting the same level of attention: tear off anything historic, replace with particle board or the cheapest version of wood siding available, spray paint a bright color and put the for sale signs up. Yep, the house is flipped, but the historic value that would have increased the value many times over is gone. We are working with the City to create enforceable rules for restoration. One of our goals is to create a before and after set of guidelines that allow us to keep closer tabs on this particular breed of “investor” – we aren’t interested at all in the proftiability of real estate investing, only in the historic aspects of our homes. We just wish all these type programs would become more educational in this respect, or, better yet – cease to exist.

  10. Some flipping shows I never watch. However, Texas Flip and Move are one of my favorite shows. Used to do some of this myself in NY, but I’m a real Fort Worth, Texan, and what Snow Sisters, Gary’s Girls, Rav, and Katrina and Casey do are great. Don’t particarly like Randy, nor any of the others. Wish they would say on the program how long it takes to do each house, and auction cost to sell. I even enjoy the reruns.??$

    • In addition to what Texas Flip and Move doesn’t add to the cost is the interior and exterior staging, which is costly. I often wonder if the additions, such as decking, can be moved.

  11. I was a real estate agent and hated it! Why? Because when all is said and done with the paperwork, the contacts with the title company, the agents, the negotiations, the driving for buyers, the intensive research, the real estate classes, the advertising, I was in the hole over 3 year’s for $26,000.

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