Every buyer is hooked on HGTV for inspiration, hoping that they can make it happen for themselves. Twenty minute makeovers are seductive. The homeowners walk in and are surprised, thrilled, tears of joy spilling down their cheeks.

Who doesn’t love a good makeover? As Americans, we expect magic. We love Walt Disney, Harry Potter, and HGTV. We don’t really want to know how it works, we just want to push that EASY button.

Can we do a little fact checkin? Starting with the Realtors on the shows, they show up all over the map, offer a client 3 homes to choose from, and their offer is accepted after 40 seconds of negotiation.

First, Realtors a licensed by a state, laws and practices in each state are different. Most agents hold a license in one or two states, not all over the country.

Secondly, the client always obediently chooses one of the three after a cup of coffee and 15 minutes of deliberation. Hold on there. It takes the average online buyer at least 10 showings to find the right house. Some take a lot more. The shows never cover indecisive buyers who want to see 30+ homes hoping that the Taj Mahal is waiting for them. Three showings isn’t enough for anyone to get a handle on what’s available to them.

Then, they jump into negotiating without much talk about financing, and they are ALWAYS the winning offer. Even if there are multiple offers, they never lose. In reality sometimes we lose, buyers are deeply disappointed. Finding the right house is like speed dating, you might need a second date before getting married.

What bothers me most is that there is never an inspection. The show leaps from offer to construction. Costly surprises discovered mid construction are because there was no inspection. A professional inspector finds rotting beams, faulty plumbing, or mold before finalizing your offer. Surprise is not a good word in real estate, it means something awful is about to happen, and you are going to pay for it. Get a professional whole house inspection.

The agent who helped you find, negotiate and get you to closing will not be there for demo. Agents who show homes waving a magic iPad with a 3D rendition of the remodel are unicorns. Reconstruction plans take days to prepare, and include a drawing with a plan. You want a designer or architect to draw plans, walls don’t disappear with an app. Real estate agents are licensed to help you buy or sell real estate, most are not licensed contractors. If they were, they wouldn’t allow you there with a hammer. You are liability, you have no idea what you are doing because you’re home watching HGTV.

The show ends with the ecstatic new owner drifting through newly rehabbed and decorated home. They are in shock that their dreams have been fulfilled. Again, hate to burst your bubble, but a contractor is not a decorator. That gorgeous sectional couch is not included in your mortgage. Turn your pockets inside out, you are paying a design team. I never met a psychic interior designer who purchases a whole house worth of furniture without consulting you. Where is the clip of the buyer who hates it, takes them to court for shoddy, incomplete workmanship and wants to know where the other $85,000 went? That’s reality.

Give it 5 minutes of thought and you’ll realize that it is a ‘reality show,’ without any. Housing rehabs take weeks if not months to complete, it is always more expensive than you planned. It is an exciting time, but you need an inspector, a contractor, a lender, a title company before a decorator shows up. There is more to the budget than, “You only have $500,000 to spend so we need to plan carefully.” There are decisions you need to make every step of the way. Step cautiously. And what is shiplap anyway?