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Six Things You Won’t Learn About Real Estate From HGTV

“No real estate is permanently valuable but the grave”
–Mark Twain

“If you want to know exactly where the property line is, just watch the neighbor cut the grass.”

Today, I was in the gym. The person before me had left the television on, and it was on HGTV. Not exactly ESPN – the usual gym fare – but as long as it wasn’t Food Network, that was fine with me, particularly since the show was “House Hunters International,” and I have a fascination with expatriates. As an aside, who really WANTS to watch the Food Network while working out? Does seeing someone cooking a giant chocolate cake really make you run faster or lift harder? It just makes me nauseous.

Anyway, if you’ve not seen the show, the premise behind House Hunters International is that U.S. citizens go somewhere else in the world and go looking for property. The agent shows them three pieces of property and then the buyers make a decision. Granted I’ve only seen three episodes in my life, so I’m extrapolating, but so far, the plot hasn’t changed.

In this episode, the woman was trying to buy an apartment in Paris. Her budget was $1,000,000. The real estate agent, helpfully, showed her three properties which each had a price tag over $1,000,000. Two of them needed work and renovation as well.

So much for budgets.

The woman thought about it and finally picked a place. Six months later, she was happy as a clam. They’re always happy as a clam six months later. I suspect that HGTV cans the shows where the post-purchase interview is reminiscent of Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in The Money Pit.

Tom Hanks

Before he made the disastrous house purchase.

The next show which came on was “Income Properties.” All I caught was the intro segment. The person whom they were featuring had a rental home. Hismortgage was up for renewal. Apparently, his rent was barely, or worse, not even making the mortgage payment for him. He wanted to renovate the basement to be able to rent it out so that he could go buy another rental property. Fortunately, at this point, I was done with my workout and left the gym, so I didn’t get to see how the episode ended.

I can imagine that there are people in the United States who watch HGTV and think “I can do that!” Two years later, they’re up to their eyeballs in debt and underwater in an investment property they couldn’t afford with a renovation that cost 2.5 times what the contractor had originally budgeted. That doesn’t make for good TV, though.

What lessons shouldn’t you take away from HGTV?

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Jason Hull is a Fort Worth fee only, hourly financial planner who serves clients in Fort Worth, TX and Dallas, TX as well as serving clients nationwide.

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Hull Financial Planning is a Fort Worth, fee-only hourly financial advisor. The cities we serve in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include: 

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