HGTV is a channel that gets a lot of play in my house. Even before I was in real estate, we watched this channel a ridiculous amount because my husband and I both liked getting ideas for design and decor for our home. It’s no exaggeration when I say that it was playing in the background of the hospital room when my son was born. While I love getting ideas for projects and rooms around the house, I would never turn to this channel for a realistic view of how real estate is bought and sold.
If you watch some of these shows, buying a property appears to be very easy and not time consuming at all. Here are some things that always strike me as funny:
The buyer (sometimes an agent and flipper themselves) shows up at a house to view it. If the house is vacant, sometimes they brag that they don’t even have an appointment to see it. They just have to see it now and they still somehow get in exclaiming, “oh look, this door is unlocked!” Folks, this is called “breaking and entering.” I would never go into a house without getting permission from the agent or seller first and I especially wouldn’t do it with a camera crew following me and documenting my crime. Sometimes they even start ripping up carpeting to check the floor underneath which would be another thing that you probably shouldn’t do if you don’t already own it. That leads me to my next point that the house is most likely already theirs and all of the above is just to make the show a little more dramatic and exciting. Because if you want to start off on the wrong foot with a seller, begin destroying their property before you actually purchase. it.
The buyer (or buyer’s agent) makes a phone call to the listing agent and states what they are willing to pay. The seller’s agent responds immediately agreeing to take the stated verbal amount and the deal is done. Making an offer is just a matter of a phone call, right? Wrong, at least in Pennsylvania. Real estate laws vary from state to state, but in Pennsylvania all offers must be in writing. Another issue with this scenario is that the seller’s real estate agent most likely does not have the final say over whether an offer is accepted. It needs to be presented to the seller and they must agree to it. I would never speak for my seller. When I have a buyer that wants to make an offer, we discuss it and put it in writing on forms that are approved by the state. The buyer signs it (either in person or electronically with a program we use) and we send it over the the seller’s agent and ask for them to respond within a certain amount of time. Sometimes it can happen quickly and sometimes it can take days. Sometimes they accept the buyer’s offer as it was written or sometimes they make changes and send it back. Every situation is different, but it’s never a done deal in a 1 minute phone call.
If you watch some of these shows, you would think that flipping a house is an easy way to make ridiculous amounts of cash very quickly. The buyer purchases a property for a very little amount of money (because apparently, there’s no one else out there competing to buy these properties) and with the magic of TV, the whole house is transformed in less than 60 minutes. The house goes from haunted-looking and crusty to something right out of a magazine. Sometimes they make it look like the buyer did all of the work themselves and sometimes they show a team of people coming in to do the work. Most people don’t have the skills to do a flip without calling in professionals for help. Although it happens. Did I ever tell you about the time I showed a flip and my foot got caught into a big dip in the carpet because someone thought it was best to just throw carpet over a big hole in the floor? We left immediately because we could only imagine what other corners were cut in that house if they just covered a huge hole with carpet. I don’t think they hired professionals, but they should have. When you do hire various professionals, that all costs money which is expensive and cuts into the profits. I’m not saying that flipping houses is a bad thing and that there isn’t money to be made. There is, but it’s not easy money, that’s for sure and it doesn’t happen in less than 60 minutes. If you are interested in flipping a house, I would suggest you talk to local people who have actually done it themselves.
I love HGTV and DIY channel. I can have them on when the kids are around and not worry if it’s appropriate or not. I also enjoy looking at the beautiful homes that they feature. It’s very entertaining. But if you are going for a realistic view as to how real estate is bought and sold, this is probably not the place to get your information. If you are looking for more information on how to buy or sell a home, please contact me. I am always happy to help explain how the process works and what you an expect.