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The Live Wire

A glimpse behind the curtain of HGTV

There are many unseen similarities and differences between HGTV and real-life real estate.
According to the Iowa Association of Realtors, in the state of Iowa, there were 32,441 single-family detached homes sold in 2023.
Leela Strand
According to the Iowa Association of Realtors, in the state of Iowa, there were 32,441 single-family detached homes sold in 2023.

Home and Garden Television (HGTV) is a channel that broadcasts real estate and home improvement, highlighting the positives of selling, refurbishing or buying a home. Viewers are accustomed to the priceless reactions, the cost of the homes, and the amazing before and afters, but that’s only one side of real estate. 

HGTV romanticizes real estate and makes it look straightforward when in reality, the process is much more involved and isn’t as easy as it seems.

One of HGTV’s main purposes is to create shows and highlight the parts of real estate that people want to see. What isn’t shown is the majority of what happens in real estate, because it doesn’t make for good TV.

Jon Proud, a Sales Manager and Commercial REALTOR® for Edge Realty Group, in Iowa City, Iowa, has been in the real estate business for 27 years. Although Proud isn’t a regular HGTV watcher, he still has some ideas on the unrealistic business on TV. 

“It’s weird watching those shows because the people in them are actors, they have already bought the house beforehand. They’ll go in and look at two houses that, maybe, aren’t even for sale because they have already bought their home,” Proud said. 

House Hunters is easily the most recognizable show on HGTV. The show first aired in 1999 and has had an astonishing 248 seasons. House Hunters helps potential buyers look and decide whether a home is right for them. 

One of the differences between House Hunters and real life is that on TV it appears they are choosing between three houses, and whatever they decide, they are guaranteed to get. In real life, there are no guarantees when house hunting, and taking a couple of days to think about it, could cost you your dream house, especially in the housing market we have experienced over the last 3 years. 

According to an article on The Mortgage Reports, rates hit a historic low in January 2021, of 2.65%. 

This was the impetus of the post-COVID real estate boom and created an environment where it was so affordable to borrow money, that everyone wanted to buy all at the same time. As a result, the market had REALTORS® and potential buyers looking at dozens of homes, making multiple offers on properties. Unfortunately, in some cases, they still lost out on buying a home.  

Today, the market is different. According to GreenState Credit Union, January 21, 2024, saw local interest rates at 6.4%. Historically, 6.4% is a good interest rate. However, compared to 2.65% just two years ago, it’s doubled, which has slowed the market. 

Another main component of real estate not showcased on HGTV is the process of buying and selling a home. 

“The process of selling a home, is the sellers contact an agent, the agent will go ahead and do the research on the house, they’ll stop by the house and take a look at the improvements done on the house, then they will talk to the homeowners about what they like about their home, then they do research to find out the value of the home compared to other homes and come back to the sellers and discuss the pricing strategy. They will agree on a price and the agent will make suggestions to help them get their house ready for market,”  Proud stated.

This is just the beginning of the process. What isn’t mentioned is the listing, filling out the paperwork, the homeowner having to keep their house in perfect condition and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice for a showing, negotiating an offer, financing and inspections. In addition to this, there are a multitude of steps before actually getting to the closing table. The list is just as long for buyers.  

Even though that list seems overwhelming, having a good REALTOR® helps manage the process and protect you throughout. 

It’s easy to see why HGTV doesn’t show all these steps. It would make for a long episode and most likely wouldn’t keep you interested. 

HGTV and real-life real estate do have things in common. In both cases, they give homeowners ideas for home improvements and repairs, bring awareness to real estate and help people realize the dream of home ownership. However, watching real estate and actually selling and buying real estate aren’t the same thing.

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About the Contributors
Hadley Andersen, Reporter
Hadley is a sophomore at Liberty and this is her first year on the Liberty Live Wire Staff. Most of her time outside of school is spent training as an equestrian, when she is not at her barn she enjoys spending time with family, reading, and watching movies.
Leela Strand, Managing Editor
Leela is a senior at Liberty High School. This is her second year on the Live Wire staff. At Liberty, Leela plays tennis and is part of SEA club. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and skiing, among other things.