Have you ever found yourself dreaming of hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances? It's not surprising given the popularity of home and renovation TV. Last year, HGTV ranked fourth as America's most watched basic cable network, with over 1.3 million primetime viewers.
There is no denying that this type of programming has created some popular perceptions and expectations about real estate and buying a home. So how do reality TV and reality compare?
Here are five things you need to know.
It's a well-known fact that spring is peak real estate season, but that doesn't mean it the best time to buy for every homebuyer. In fact, there are some benefits to house hunting in the winter. You may have less selection, but there's also fewer buyers so you will have less competition. Additionally, in the winter months, sellers tend to be more highly motivated and when sellers are motivated, they're more likely to negotiate on price, closing costs or other details in the terms of the deal.
A TV program may lead you to believe that real estate agents just appear to walk you through a handful of houses. Rather, your real estate agent likely will be the first person you'll meet on "your homeownership team." They serve as trusted, professional guides who are by your side throughout your journey and are there to educate you about the homebuying process, help navigate bidding wars and work to get you the best deal possible on your home.
On TV, the homebuying process takes a mere 30 minutes where you look at three houses before landing your dream home. In reality, it's unlikely you will consider buying one of the first three homes you tour. House hunting takes time and it's okay to look at a variety of homes before finding the right one for you. Even then, when you make an offer on a home there is no guarantee the seller will accept it. You may lose the first place you thought was your new home. And that's ok.
Going over your homebuying budget is worth it because it will only slightly increase your monthly mortgage payment, right? Not necessarily. Don't overlook the all the costs associated with the homebuying process. In addition to principal and interest, your monthly mortgage payment may also include an escrow payment and private mortgage insurance payment. You also have to account for upfront costs, such as closing costs, which can average from 2% to 5% of the home's value. That money can quickly add up quickly if you only accounted for your down payment.
Just because you've binge watched your fair share of renovation TV and can "see the potential" in a fixer-upper home doesn't mean you're ready to tear down the walls. All that potential takes time, money and lots of energy. Reality TV often packs a massive remodeling project into an unrealistic time frame and budget. It's important to put into perspective what you can DIY and what you'll need to hire a contractor for.
If you are ready to take the plunge into homeownership, My Home by Freddie Mac® offers resources to help you make informed decisions every step of the way.