Tuesday, February 13, 2007

HGTV Syndrome

I watch way too much HGTV (Home & Garden Television) for my own good in between the painting marathon I’ve been on the last few days. I fault HGTV for creating this false sense that all things are possible when it comes to home improvement.

Dare I invent a new catchy turn of words with the “syndrome?” If you may recall, I’m on a flurry of home fix up in anticipation of putting the lovely old house I call home on the market soon. As I go from room to room, I think, “What can I do to make her prettier, more apt to turn a potential buyer’s eye?” And I think back to all those episodes on HGTV where a SWAT team swoops down on homeowners transforming their unappealing homes into crown jewels. Only this SWAT team is composed of carpenters, handymen and women, contractors, real estate gurus and designers.

The show Designed to Sell budgets $2,000 to transform an ugly duckling into a prince of a house. But, and here’s the big but, they provide a carpenter, handyman and a Brit named Clive and his designer co-host. Clive starts each show by bringing in a nasty critic who proceeds to pick the poor house apart like a hungry family of eight with a three-piece chicken dinner. After Miss Picky lays down the law, good Fairy Godmother Lisa comes in to say, “That’s all right. We will fix everything and you will sell this house for a great price.” And they do!

This isn’t real. Nothing on television is I’ve told myself. But it seems so possible. And that’s the HGTV Syndrome. Only, it’s just me and a couple cans of paint and this old house.


eric said...

I've always been a fan of "This Old House" the show seems pretty true to life in all aspects.

Example: While doing a demo, they will inevitably find some kind of secondary problem that will have to be addressed, price estimates are always low,and budgets are busted. With all these pop ups, the time to finish a job is always the same...about one season.

Jay Croft said...

You are right that those shows are unreal. My wife is addicted to them. I can't stand them.

This morning there was a show where a woman designer was explaining to a burly football player about the different shades of beige she was going to use. "Taupe, ecru, etc."

The poor fellow looked embarrassed.

I do peek at "This Old House" because it's from New England, where I grew up. However, the fellows say at the end, "Until next time I'm Norm Abrams . . I'm Doug Whatever . . . I'm George Jumpingjacks." (Can't remember their names.)

If "until next time," then what will their names be next? Something different?

Oy veh.

Naomi said...

British tv is full of shows like this Sheila. Over here the experts believe the best way to sell a house is to put out fresh flowers when a prospective buyer comes along, bake bread (so the aroma gets into the house) and put coffee on so that aroma gets in too. Haven't tried this so don't know if it works. Best of luck!

Jay Croft said...

Naomi, we do the same over here. And the owner is expected NOT to be on the premises during the showing.

When we were selling our house in St. Paul Minnesota in 1980, we spilled a can of white paint on the carpet in one room. No way to clean it up.

And when we were selling our house in Birmingham two years ago, I had to keep it clean and neat at all times. That meant, with as little as 15 minutes notice from the real estate agent, doing "bug patrol" in the basement, vacuuming all the rugs, and doing a lot of yard work.

I watch "BBC in America" occasionally and enjoy the shows like "Cash in the Attic" which are exactly the same on both sides of the Big Pond.

Don said...

I’ve only sold one house in my lifetime and maybe I just got lucky because we didn’t do a single thing to make it more attractive. The first couple to come look at it bought it without even haggling over the asking price which I had set a bit high in anticipation of having to bargain.

Don said...

By the way, Sheila -- nice looking house, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Sheila said...

Thanks Don, and Happy Valentine's Day back to you! You had every seller's dream come true. I have sold a house in three days and our agent became both the seller's and buyer's agent and she knocked down her commission. That was smooth.

You are right about having to keep everything clean, picked up and ready at a moment's notice. When we sold our last house in Glen Ellyn, IL. we would get the call that we had a showing. We would load the dog and ourselves into the car, drive around a few minutes and then gingerly approach the house to see if they'd visited. If not, we would sit in the car up the street. Luckily no neighbors called the cops on us for sitting in front of their homes. And I've already spilled paint--just not on carpet. What a disaster that must have been!

Naomi, the more I read your comments, the more I see how much alike we are to you British. There's one show here, The Painted House I think it is with a Brit named Debbie Travis, that I guess originated in England. Maybe she exhausted herself over there and is now taking on the New World.

Eric, I think This Old House was the first home improvement show and I too loved watching it. Boy, have things changed.