How real are HGTV programs?

49 Replies

Hello bigger pocketers! I know, I know, don’t believe anything you see on TV is what they say. But I was curious to know from people who are in the flipping business already how much of what is shown on HGTV is real? Did you ever find anything on those programs beneficial to you? Surely it can’t be all lies, no? Thanks!

You have to look at them for what they are - entertainment. Nobody should look at them as any form of training or education as a lot of things/steps are left out of the shows.

Mostly, the critical tasks needed to be successful in flipping aren’t shown:

- how to find properties

- how to determine ARV

- how to determine the budget NEEDED to rehab the house to meet that ARV

- carrying and closing costs

- TIME!!!!!

I’ve did a couple of reality shows, one of which was realty based, and can confirm that it is in facets scripted. Most of the truly important stuff goes on in the background.

Consider this:  if you’re in the fix and flip business full time, why would you go on TV and divulge the entire process and create additional competition in an already flooded market?

That being said, I find the show First Time Flippers HILARIOUS!!!  😜😂😂😂

@Darren Lenick is correct.  Basically, it is entertainment.  Although, there are a few bits of useful information from them.  But not enough to be the foundation of your business.  When you watch you'll notice that there is always drama between the flipper and the contractor or partner or someone else.  They always have unexpected 'major' problems arise that will cause the flipper many sleepless nights.  Yet at the end of the show the flipper walks away with $30K-$60K for a few weeks/months of work and it's on to the next "scary" flip.

I do have an agent friend who was on one and so I do know that the House Hunter type shows are all fake.  The "buyers" have already purchased the home that they wind up selecting on the show.  

Despite the flipping shows being mostly fiction, it's interesting the impact they've had on real-world investing.  I wonder how many people have turned up on BP because of the shows and the show starts turned guru.

@J Scott actually filmed a pilot for a flipping show for a different network I believe.  I think he has stated before that them not accurately portraying the reality of it is why he decided not to continue with the project.

I know another individual who was on a flipping show, and there were a lot of things in that episode that were not a reflection of reality as I knew those involved, and I knew the subject property.

@Darren Lenick is totally correct!! Especially ARV part, you should be able to analyze your own. Honestly, I just watch it to have a general idea of what's the latest trend of bathroom & kitchen.

In addition, to be a successful flipper, you need to build a FANTASTIC team to work with you. A very good RE agent, contractor/handyman, and Lender. That's all I can say.

Thanks for the tag @Russell Brazil ...

Here's a bit about my story:

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/48/topics/255...

Basically, it was completely scripted (and my wife was SO sick during filming)...  

While we did own that really bad house, the HazMat suits were part of the script, the fact that my wife had never seen the house and I had purchased it without her knowledge was part of the script (she actually found the house), etc.

The house that we were selling and staged in a day was all scripted.  The "buyers" are our best friends, and we scheduled with the staging company a week earlier.  That said, we did stage it in a day...  :)

The numbers that I talk about on our flip were exaggerated.  That was actually a big sticking point -- the interviewer asked the numbers, I gave an accurate response, and he basically said, "That's not exciting enough -- here's what you need to say..."

We actually had three or four other scripted elements that never made the final cut.

The crazy thing is that none of this was the original script.  They told us the original plan, and it was 10x crazier. My wife and refused to do it, and we came back with the ideas that were used here...  Ultimately, we refused to do an entirely scripted show, and we never came to agreement with the network on a contract.

Long story short, don't believe anything you see on these "reality" shows...

@Mahmoud Tellou the only thing HGTV is really good for in the flipping business is letting you know what design style buyers are looking for. HGTV is very good at telling the retail buyer what they want in a home.

No doubt its all fake....

I will occasionally watch just to get some creative design ideas and latest trends in remodels etc

Renovation Realities...... the one where homeowners do tjheir own remodels in the best one !!

Originally posted by @Mahmoud Tellou :
Hello bigger pocketers!

I know, I know, don’t believe anything you see on TV is what they say.

But I was curious to know from people who are in the flipping business already how much of what is shown on HGTV is real? Did you ever find anything on those programs beneficial to you? Surely it can’t be all lies, no?

Thanks!

 The "HGTV Effect" is certainly real. Supply/demand drives prices, not property condition or anything else. Read that last sentence out loud. Due to the HGTV Effect, demand for fixer uppers is higher than ever in my market, and owner occupants are vastly overpaying for them. In addition, properties flipped by others are going for less than they might otherwise be worth, absent HGTV, even when/if the rehab was quality work.

Recently rehabbed rentals, by contrast, are still renting for a premium. Just this week I had a client convert a flip into a rental after it sat on the Oakland market for over a month at a price that would have yielded fairly low profit, and this is someone with a track record of successful flips in years past.

So I guess this is neutral-to-good news if you're doing buy-and-hold and finding a way not to compete with the owner occupants bidding based on emotional appeal inspired by a reality TV show, but bad news if you're trying to be the next HGTV rockstar flipper paying MLS prices.

My experience is mostly in the Bay Area and SoCal, YMMV in other markets.

Its purely for entertainment like others have said. Scripted beyond belief (some worse than others). Thats said though you can get some interesting ideas, design wise, from them. Like paint colors and other material type stuff. Nothing REI worthy though in terms of numbers of making profit. They use WAY too many round numbers to be real.

I had an experience with the reality show "Extreme Home Makeover". A friend of a friend was actually a recipient of one of those house makeovers. The 4 hosts of the show where never there, except at the beginning and end. Theres houses are designed to be cool and flashy but not practical and actually poorly designed and usually poorly constructed (because of the extremely fast time frame). This house had a car lift in the garage because the dad worked on cars. I really nice really professional lift! They didn't take into account that the support pillars for the lift got in the way of the garage door opening......you literally couldn't use because you couldnt get a car in it. Stupid crap like this happens ALL the time. Not to mention that now they family that could barely afford their 1k/month mortgage has 2k/month in taxes and other bills because they have a $500k+ house with 4k sq ft. So many people on that show had to end up selling their new house because they couldnt afford it. But it had good ratings and had a "feel good" mentality about the intent and purpose of the show. But it was all about entertainment and money made for the production company at the end. Not the family. 

The only good thing about the flipping shows is to look at how they finish the properties to see what's in style. Interior home design has it's trends just like the fashion industry, just a lot slower. Look back at properties that were updated back in the 80s, it looks like night and day with how properties are updated now. 

Other than that it's all fluff and entertainment.

Also since these shows are so popular you can try to remix their content and put your own twist on it so you can build your social platform. The show producers have to be creative and put out content that people actually would like to watch. Apparently they do a great job because I meet so many people that want to start flipping properties because of these shows. So you can take what's working for them, record your own videos taking inspiration from them, and use it to build your social media accounts. (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) 

My favorite aspect with these shows... The flippers are big time players, doing 100 houses a year (that's 2 houses a week). Yet we see the company owners shlopping on tile, or breaking down one cabinet. These high volume flippers never lift a hammer or place a tile, their contractors do it. I'm not sure why they show them manually working, ratings I guess?

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

I like the rehab scenes when they get out the giant long handled sledgehammers and start bashing through the walls . Ridiculous 

If you look at the video I posted above, they have us busting through a wall to a "secret" room.  Of course, as you can see from the footage, the cameras are in that secret room waiting for us to bust through...  :-)

Originally posted by @J Scott :
Originally posted by @Dennis M.:

I like the rehab scenes when they get out the giant long handled sledgehammers and start bashing through the walls . Ridiculous 

If you look at the video I posted above, they have us busting through a wall to a "secret" room.  Of course, as you can see from the footage, the cameras are in that secret room waiting for us to bust through...  :-)

The funny part of that , well the sad part ,is the average slob watching tv won’t put two and two together to see the internal logic flaw involved lol I’ve heard it said the average television program is based around the mentality of a 12 year old viewer . I believe that statistic  

There is no way that Tarick guy from Flip or Flop knows how to tile a bathroom. I am convinced he literally gets filmed pushing up the very last tile. Him and his Barbie ex wife are probably just B actors rejected by Hollywood.

I prefer the old school construction reality TV like 'This Old House' or 'Hometime'. 

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

I like the rehab scenes when they get out the giant long handled sledgehammers and start bashing through the walls . Ridiculous 

 Do you talk/yell at the TV screen during these HDTV shows like most people do while watching a sporting event? Because my wife and I do all the time. 

"Thats total bs!"

"Well that wasn't scripted...."

"That is NOT how you would do that in real life!"

"Thats against code...."

"Why would they spend $5,000 on an ugly *** ceiling light but then have to cut out the bathroom remodel because they are over budget?"

etc.

etc.

Originally posted by @J Scott :

Thanks for the tag @Russell Brazil ...

Here's a bit about my story:

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/48/topics/255...

Basically, it was completely scripted (and my wife was SO sick during filming)...  

While we did own that really bad house, the HazMat suits were part of the script, the fact that my wife had never seen the house and I had purchased it without her knowledge was part of the script (she actually found the house), etc.

The house that we were selling and staged in a day was all scripted.  The "buyers" are our best friends, and we scheduled with the staging company a week earlier.  That said, we did stage it in a day...  :)

The numbers that I talk about on our flip were exaggerated.  That was actually a big sticking point -- the interviewer asked the numbers, I gave an accurate response, and he basically said, "That's not exciting enough -- here's what you need to say..."

We actually had three or four other scripted elements that never made the final cut.

The crazy thing is that none of this was the original script.  They told us the original plan, and it was 10x crazier. My wife and refused to do it, and we came back with the ideas that were used here...  Ultimately, we refused to do an entirely scripted show, and we never came to agreement with the network on a contract.

Long story short, don't believe anything you see on these "reality" shows...

The real money in this is when they then go on to be flipping guru seminar companies backed by Utah based fulfillment companies.. that's were the real dough is.. the 40k a pop per student to learn flipping from these celebrities..  

I find the pricing on these shows to be extremly. Love it when the contractor tells the home owner a wall can be removed and a new lam beam installed for 400 bucks....or the new hardwood through out the entire 2000sq house for $1800... I cringe when i go to a potential clients house and tell them their bathroom reno will be about 15k and they tell me they saw the samE thing done on hgtv for 5k!! Unbelievable..