Joanna Cutaia-Beales
Real Estate Broker

Hamilton Ontario Real Estate Agent

This is What House Hunting Shows Won't Tell You

Have you ever sat down to watch one or two episodes of shows like "House Hunters," only to glance at the clock four hours later and discover you've binge watched half of a season? 

Trust me, I get it; these shows are addictive if you love DIY projects, home decor and staged realty shows about finding your dream home. I may have binge watched a couple myself...

As a Realtor and seasoned pro in the housing + renovation and development industries, watching these shows give advice to young buyers, sellers or even first-time home owners often makes me cringe. There is so much these shows don't tell you, but they do glamorize the process of buying property or fixing it up. And while that works perfectly for entertaining audiences, what do you need to know as a prospective buyer that these shows won't tell you? 

For one thing, you don't find the right home after looking at just 3

Shows like "House Hunters" follow a formula whereby they show participants a very limited number of properties before the couples decide they've found the right home after viewing just 3-4 of them. House hunting doesn't always work this way, however. 

There are a plethora of factors that come into play when you hunt for the right home - is it in your desired neighbourhood? Is it within your budget? What updates or renovations would the home need? Does it fulfill your list of must-haves? 

It's easy to look at a range of properties or even view them online until your eyes go cross-eyed! However, it is rare that home buyers find the perfect property after viewing just one or two of them. A Realtor can help to narrow down the available options for you and will work to cut through the proverbial "noise" of house hunting. 

Going over budget on a property isn't always a good idea

Often times, house hunting shows display the conflict home buyers feel when faced with the possibility that they'll have to go over their budget to secure the purchase of a property, or to finish certain renovations. This happens frequently on shows like "Love It or List It," for example.

However, this is not indicative of responsible purchasing decisions when you're looking to buy a home you may have to invest money in for updates or necessary renovations. Having a budget that you can stick to is important, because there will still be costs associated with owning the property after you've successfully purchased it! 

While it may not be disastrous to go $4,000 over budget for a home, sometimes house hunting shows depict people having to go significantly over their budget, and this line of thinking is also problematic. Your Realtor would be able to help guide you in making a conscious decision as to whether going over your budget is wise (and worth it). 

There isn't always the guarantee that your dream home will be out there...yet

Whether or not you're able to find the right property the moment you begin your house hunt can be impacted by a number of factors, one of which is the market. Sometimes the real estate market favours Buyers (aka the "buyer's market) while at other times, it favours Sellers (aka the "seller's market"). 

But not all house hunting shows actually discuss the impact that the market can have on your home search, or the importance of having access to current market stats, information and resources. You may find yourself having to rethink your home search based on the state of the market at that time. 

This doesn't mean, however, that your dream home isn't out there! It may simply be a matter of timing. 

There can be hidden costs, and they're not glamorous

The reality of hunting for and purchasing a property can involve costs you can't always predict. You may find a home you fall in love with, but that property may need a new roof, updated plumbing, or a new driveway. 

The more "hidden" costs can include things like mould in walls, which can be difficult to detect from a simple home inspection (because no one can see through walls). If you have to rip apart walls and eradicate mould from the property, this can be a significant cost. It doesn't get fixed overnight, and it isn't glamorous. 

But keep in mind that it's not a television show's job to show you the realities of purchasing a home, and the potential issues a home can have. That's why your Realtor is there to assist you; they should be able to point out potential aesthetic issues in a property, as well as potential problems that may have extra costs associated with them. Home inspections and professional input are important when purchasing a property, and while it's not always glamorous, it's also not disastrous! 

Joanna Cutaia-Beales