5 Reasons I Turned Down a Chance to Be a Star on HGTV

5 Reasons I Turned Down a Chance to Be a Star on HGTV

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

Read More

Join for free and get unlimited access, free digital downloads, and tools to analyze real estate.

I know a lot of people would give anything for a chance to be on TV. I recently had the chance to become a star on one of those HGTV shows. Call me crazy, but I turned it down. Here’s why.

While I was truly honored to be asked to participate in a high profile TV show, I took some time to really think about it. I’m glad I did. I took a step back, listed out the pros to cons, and realized it just wasn’t for me. I know others have passed up these offers too, and I am sure that some who went through with it are possibly regretting it. It may be a dream come true for others, but here are the reasons I passed.

5 Reasons I Turned Down a Chance to Be a Star on HGTV

1. It’s not reality.

While all these real estate shows are heralded as “reality” TV, they really aren’t. These shows only detail the glamorous side of the business. My personal philosophy on BiggerPockets and in my interactions with others is to show the behind the scenes side—because the day-to-day, repetitive work is what gets you to the big “moments.” Knowing the reality is the only way to have realistic expectations and to invest intelligently.

Related: 3 Big Reasons I’m Not Sad to See Hit HGTV Show Fixer Upper Go

2. I don’t flip houses.

I am a buy and hold investor, not a house flipper. They wanted my partner and I to convey that we would be flipping houses to regular homeowners. We know how to do that. It just did not align with what we are trying to do, the way we actually invest for ourselves, and what we believe is best for others to do.

3. It’s a time drain.

If your goal in life is to be on TV, then I say go for it. Just know it is going to take up an enormous amount of your life. In reality, it can take hours just to get a few seconds or minutes of great footage used in the final cut. While it is appealing to me to be on a show, it takes time—time that I prefer to spend actually building a business, making real investments, and helping others do the same. Maybe you can remember the names of some of the real estate TV stars of the last 5 years. Most can barely remember a couple. I think you’ve also got to ask whether you want to spend a year or more of your life trying to get your 15 minutes of fame—or whether you’d rather put your time into something that will last and take care of you and your family for the rest of your life.

4. They fudge the math.

The math on these shows is a joke. Any real investor knows that. Often, they completely skip a lot of the holding costs, commissions, fees, labor, marketing expenses, and even repairs. What they show as being a profitable flip on TV can actually be a loss when you do the real math.

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

5. It’s dangerous.

For all the above reasons, these reality TV shows can be really dangerous to viewers. I’m not saying that is the intent of producers or the script writers—or that they even understand the implications. They are just trying to create entertainment and content that people will watch and that advertisers will pay to market through. It’s great that more people are being inspired and turned on to real estate and its benefits. Still, too many people are relying on these shows as education. Then they jump in without knowing what they are doing, often based on someone else who doesn’t know what they are doing. It is a recipe for disaster. Many have burned perfectly good careers and life savings trying to flip houses like they do on TV. Many have lost it all on their first try, and now have wrecked their credit, career, finances, and may be deeply in debt and legal trouble. Even though I personally prefer investing in apartments, I admit you can make money flipping houses, but you need to know what you are doing.


I weighed the pros and cons for me personally, and I turned down the offer to be a house flipping star on TV. That doesn’t mean TV or flipping houses doesn’t have value. I believe you just need to make an educated and objective decision about it, just as you do when investing in real estate in real life.

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What do you think? Would you give anything to be on TV? Have you passed up an opportunity like this? Why?

Comment below!