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Is Information on Real Estate TV Shows Believable?

April 18, 2019

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Couple dumbfounded while watching a real estate tv show

The HGTV effect in the real estate industry is real, but don’t kid yourself into believing all of what you see and hear on your favorite real estate TV shows is necessarily valid. Think about it. These are shows, not reality. If you’re considering listing your Montecito home or are looking to move in the area, here are 4 “lessons” to take with a grain of salt from your favorite HGTV show.

  1. You just need to look at 3 houses to find your dream home.
    The HGTV series “House Hunters” is infamous for focusing on buyers looking at 3 houses. In reality, however, homebuyers might have to look at many more than that before they enter into escrow.

“The problem is that in a 30- or 60-minute show it’s impossible to show what really goes into finding and then buying a home,” says Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified, a web series about issues within the real estate industry. “One of the biggest issues in our current real estate market is the length of time it’s taking to find a home.”

I concur with Ralph, especially in our current market conditions where a lack of homes for sale continues to be a national trend. I always help my clients have realistic expectations, whether they are selling or buying in Montecito or Santa Barbara. You have to consider every scenario when moving, including location, schools, price, and so on. If the shoe doesn’t fit, you have to continue your search. A good Realtor© will be there for you throughout the process.

Read: Hiring a Realtor®? Consider Their Knowledge

  1. Money is not a consideration because if you want it, you’ll find a way to own it.
    OK, some HGTV shows do address the fact that people have to stay within their budget. Real estate professionals warn that some shows, nevertheless, give many viewers an unrealistic idea of what they can afford.

According to CNN Money, your home buying budget should be two and a half times your annual income. In other words, according to that formula, if you and your partner make $500,000 a year, you can afford a $1.25 million home. That’s the general rule, but the exact amount depends on many factors, including your living expenses and debts, so consult a financial adviser.

I couldn’t agree more that one of the biggest deciding factors when buying a home is how much you can afford. Even the ultra-wealthy have a budget.

  1. Buyers should walk away from a house based on superficial features such as the faucets or countertops.
    Some homebuyers simply pass on a house with good bones and a terrific location due to the HGTV hype. Those shows are meant to be entertaining, not a blueprint for home hunting or selling. They create the unrealistic expectation that in order to sell, a property must be perfect. Instead, home buyers should rely on a good home inspection for a realistic idea of things that need to be fixed.

According to the American Home Inspector’s Training Institute, “A home inspection is an inexpensive way to discover the universal condition of a home. It is important to conduct a home inspection to avoid a costly mistake by purchasing a property in need of major repairs. Even if you think you have found a dream home, it is a home inspector’s responsibility to let you know that your dream home may not be just right.” Or it may even be a nightmare under the surface.

I’ve witnessed this mistake myself when a buyer allowed superficial things to keep them from purchasing the perfect home. I always tell my clients that a good home inspection will help them understand exactly what they are about to acquire by covering electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation, even structural features. The inspection of the home may unveil issues that are not noticeable to the buyer’s eye and those issues are what a buyer should pay attention to; not the superficial ones.

Read: Home remodeling: should you fix up your house before selling?

  1. Fixing up a home can be done pretty quickly.Male Contractor with Hard Hat and Tool Belt Looking At Custom Kitchen Drawing Photo Combination On White.
    In many real estate TV shows, teams of professionals get renovations completed in no time. But is this real?

“Every house has defects, some obvious and others hidden,” says Jack M.Guttentag. Professor of Finance Emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Mortgage Encyclopedia. “Both types will affect the price a buyer is willing to pay. It is a mistake to think that a potential buyer will assume that the only defects that exist are those that are visible.” 

Most of these shows start filming six months or more into a particular project. They already have the permits, contractors, and suppliers lined up. I tell my clients to keep in mind most projects will take you 3 times longer than quoted and cost more than expected.

If you are an HGTV junkie, don’t feel bad. The real estate TV shows are entertaining, and they can share valuable information regarding the home buying and selling process. The right real estate agent can help you bypass any of the 4 mistakes outlined above and guide you through your real estate transactions like a superstar. I’d be honored to be that real estate professional for you if you’re buying and selling in Montecito or any of the communities in Santa Barbara. Give me a call at +1 805.886.9378 or email me at and I’ll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties while finding you the perfect place to call home. We can share notes on our favorite HGTV shows while we’re house hunting!


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“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

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- M.F.

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- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

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- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

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- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

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“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

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