Fort Liberty, Fayetteville & Sanford, NC


The “Unicorn Math” of HGTV

Let me preface this blog by stating that I love watching a lot of HGTV shows and I get  a lot of design inspiration from them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these shows are  “reality” T.V. at their core AND that we ALL know that “reality” doesn’t mean reality!

I’m sure by now we all know (through Google or Facebook or Dancing with the Stars…) that a lot of the hosts are just actors… Drew and Jonathan Scott aren’t operating as the true/acting Realtor or General Contractor on Property Brothers, and the home buying process is largely staged to create a format that’s entertaining and palatable for viewers. But, with that said, there is no question that these run down, antiquated homes truly are getting massive renovations that look beautiful in the end, but there’s a lot of the process that’s “altered” for a 30-60 minute show.

Again, these are great, entertaining shows that give people a lot of creative inspiration. Of course, certain aspects of the buying / selling and renovation process are going to be altered. After all, the production company’s job is to create a popular and entertaining show that helps the network sell advertising.

My one problem with all of these shows is what I like to call “unicorn math.” All of these shows are centered around budgets, purchase and selling prices, renovations costs, overages, etc. etc. that leave certain things out. In short, the numbers presented never give a real picture as to the actual cost of anything! The guiltiest shows of unicorn math are the flipping shows. These shows always calculate profit by taking the sales price and subtracting the purchase price and renovation costs… which seems logical, but inevitably they leave out so many additional costs, ie. Closings costs (buyers and sellers), realtors commissions, quiet costs, cost of money, etc…  So the alleged profit they show is very misleading and not actual net profit… buuuuuuuut… you may say…it’s entertaining so who cares?

Well I care, because it gives people misleading information about actual costs involved in real estate transactions.  In the Fayetteville / Ft. Bragg market, and as a general rule of thumb… you’re going to pay 10% of the sales price of your home in commissions and closing costs. If you don’t believe me, try selling your home around here and don’t offer to pay for buyers closing costs and see how that works out for you 😉

These shows are also guilty of not having the most accurate renovation costs. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t completely gut a 2500 sq. ft. house built in the 1940’s, repair the foundation, install all new siding, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, sheetrock, all the finishes and then stage it beautifully for under $100,000. Sorry folks, just not going to happen… not even close…

My pet peeve with all this pervasive unicorn math is that it gives people the wrong idea of processes and actual costs. From my experience, once somebody has a number in their head, it’s very difficult to change their mind…even if that number isn’t accurate.

By all means, keep watching these shows, they’re incredibly entertaining, but please keep in mind that the numbers being presented throughout the process are most likely inaccurate and made for T.V.

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