Reality vs. Reality TV: Here’s Some Perspective for Homebuyers
Reality vs. Reality TV: Here's Some Perspective for Homebuyers
Mon, August 19, 2013

Ah, reality TV. That land where everything seems so easy and even the most difficult life events are resolved in fewer than 30 minutes. Of course, producers, editing and professional lighting don’t hurt (if only that were part of everyone’s reality, right?). So when it comes to homebuying, just how real is reality TV? And what can people without production crews expect?

Let’s start with the basics: Buying or selling a home doesn’t (usually) happen overnight. What becomes a two-minute segment on television actually requires days, weeks and even months, in some cases, of time and effort in everyday life. It entails budgeting, searching, inspecting and negotiating.

To sum it up: The camera misses a lot of the action. You – in real life – will interview and hire a Realtor, apply for home loans and agonize over picking the right house. You’ll pay your earnest money, order inspections, work through contingencies, prepare to bring cash to closing, sign your name dozens of times to transfer ownership – all before you get the keys. And guess what, you won’t see most, or any, of that on TV.

But you probably already know all that. You also probably know that every home shown on TV is in tip-top condition, spick-and-span from top to bottom – and pretty stylishly staged. In reality, that’s not always the case. Be prepared to imagine that the salmon pink paint in the dining room is temporary, that the lawn doesn’t need a garden gnome at the base of every tree or bush. In other words, don’t just focus on the life someone else made there, focus on what you see in your future there: you, your furniture, your life.

One aspect that most TV shows do seem to get right, though, is the advantage buyers have when using a real estate agent. Knowing the best homes within your budget, detailing the pros and cons of each property, making the offers/counteroffers – that’s their job. Which in turn makes yours – finding your dream home – much easier.

Speaking of dream homes, yours might end up looking slightly, or significantly, different than you thought. It might not exist, or it might not exist in your price range. In this instance, take a cue from the reality show buyers and learn to compromise. The lap pool might be out of reach, but at least you get that large soaking tub in the master bath.

For a more detailed explanation of the homebuying process, visit the Anatomy of a Home Purchase page. Or you can find a local RE/MAX agent who's ready to answer all your questions.

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