If you watch house flipping shows (and who doesn’t? They’re very addictive), you’ll know that every episode has a pretty predictable formula. The property owner has a huge list of must-haves and a very tight budget. The renovation team, always up for a challenge, then delivers the home of the property owner’s dreams, even after facing what looks like major structural problems.
The home almost always comes in on or under budget, too, and while they may have made one or two concessions, nothing takes away from that amazing finale. But in this hour-long episode, there’s a lot the show isn’t telling you about the realities of flipping a property. Here are four things these shows try to cover up in the production and editing – and one thing they get right!
Real-World Remodels Take Much Longer Than TV Remodels
The biggest problem with house flipping shows is how they compress time – remodeling a bathroom in one weekend? Redoing an entire apartment in a week? Good luck! While the flippers on TV finish the job quickly, the networks leave a lot of the scrambling behind the scenes – not to mention all the hard work done by unnamed, unseen workers. They leave many of the messier parts of remodeling on the cutting room floor!
Take the task of painting, for example: ordinarily, it starts with a coat or two of primer or sealer before any new colours can be applied. It’s a job that almost always takes several days to finish (especially if it’s for the entire home) as every coat needs to be completely dry before the team can do the next one.
On TV, the painting is often the final part, that final touch before the flippers walk through their gorgeously-finished home. While you might know this is unrealistic, it can create unreasonable timelines in the heads of new property investors. House flippers shouldn’t let what they see on TV raise hopes of turning a project around in record time.
Selling A Home Isn’t Quick, Either
While these shows make it seem like homes sell as soon as they’re listed, property flippers usually have to wait: it can take at least 60 to 90 days to sell an investment and get the money for it. This is because financing is a boring process that doesn’t look good on TV: the buyer has to get approved for the mortgage loan, complete the paperwork, go through a credit check and stress test, etc.
Savvy property investors prepare budgets that consider this length of time. This means covering property taxes, utilities, and other regular expenses while the home is on the market.
TV Budgets Aren’t Real Budgets
On home flipping shows, it always seems like the team comes in just on or under budget. No matter what problems they encounter – major electrical issues, rotting plumbing, structural damage, etc. – our heroes always seem to come out with all their money. While this makes for thrilling TV, it’s not realistic, and this is because the family or flipping company isn’t paying for everything themselves!
Networks and production companies foot much of the bill on house flipping shows, often partnering with advertisers to get free materials and appliances. Some contractors that appear on these shows even work at reduced rates in exchange for the publicity that comes with appearing on a major TV show. If you’re a house flipper, expect to pay higher prices for renovation materials and services seen on-screen.
House Flipping Isn’t As Easy As They Show It On TV
When you have a hair and makeup crew as part of your renovation team, sure, you can make house flipping look easy. But property investments need dedication, focus, and hard work, and that means getting your hands dirty. You’ll also have to determine the line between investing too much and not doing enough work for your specific situation. TV shows don’t always represent these hard decisions!
But It’s Still A Rewarding Experience!
One thing these shows can get right is that property investing can be very rewarding. It’s not only the profit potential; taking a fixer-upper, putting a lot of construction and design work into it, then selling it for a tidy profit is a worthwhile pursuit!
Like so much else in life, you should take what’s portrayed on-screen with a grain of salt. But as long as you don’t let your expectations get out of control after watching a one-hour basement renovation, you’ll find the methodical, hands-on work of property investments very satisfying!