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Jun 162012
 June 16, 2012  Posted by  At Home, Real estate

The revelation that would-be home buyers on HGTV’s popular “House Hunters” program may be looking at homes that aren’t even for sale has caused a stir. You can read more about that in my post at MSN Real Estate.

But even if “House Hunters” is, in part, fake, there are some real lessons home buyers should take from the show. We’re not saying that the show always gives you a realistic view of what it’s like to buy a house, just that you can learn from watching about some things you should do when you’re buying a house and some you shouldn’t.

Here are six lessons you should learn “House Hunters”:

  1. Location matters. Many times the prospective home buyers have to choose between a large house that is far from their desired neighborhood and a small house that may need work in a more desirable area. There is no one right answer here, but choosing whether you’ll be happier in a large house with a long commute or a small house with a short commute is one of the most important questions you need to answer.
  2. The floor plan matters. In some cases, you can easily knock down a wall and create a larger room, but in many cases the costs of those types of renovations are prohibitive. You can easily change paint colors, wallpaper, flooring and ugly light fixtures, but you cannot easily change the location of the bedrooms or the size of the kitchen.
  3. Appliances don’t matter. Every time I watch “House Hunters,” I want to yell this at the young buyers: You can buy stainless steel appliances. It is easy and relatively cheap, as home improvements go, to change appliances. Ditto for granite counter tops.
  4. No house is perfect. No matter how picky you are, you will have to make compromises on location, home features or maybe both. No house will be exactly what you want, and looking at 100 houses will not change that.
  5. Budget matters but $1,000 or $2,000 (or in higher price ranges even $10,000) added or subtracted to the home price will have little effect on your monthly payment. Plus, asking price is often negotiable.
  6. Ignore the decor. Carpet, paint, wallpaper, plumbing fixtures and light fixtures are easy to change. Plus, the previous owner’s dirt, furniture and possessions won’t come with the house. Don’t reject a good house because it’s dirty or badly decorated.

I like to watch “House Hunters” because I like to look at the houses. But when you consider whether your actual experience of buying a house will be anything like what you see on TV, remember that the show skips over all the price negotiations, inspection issues and difficulties getting a home loan. Plus, most buyers look at more than three houses.

We hope that those viewers who have not yet bought a home realize that the process is a whole lot more complicated than what you see in a 30-minute TV show. But you can still learn something from seeing how other people look at houses, whether they are truly considering buying them or not.

Teresa Mears

Teresa Mears is a website publisher, writer, blogger and editor who was raised to be frugal. In her 35 years as a journalist, she has written for papers ranging in size from the weekly Portland (Tenn.) Leader to The Los Angeles Times. She was an editor for the Miami Herald for more than 17 years, overseeing coverage of home, real estate, family and other subjects. She has also been a contributor to The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News and other publications. When she’s not writing about Florida deals, she writes and edits for MSN Money and does the Listed blog for MSN Real Estate. Teresa owns and operates Miami On The CheapFlorida On The CheapFort Lauderdale On The CheapPalm Beach On The CheapOrlando On The Cheap, Florida Keys On the Cheap and Jacksonville On The Cheap, as well as Baltimore on the Cheap and Washington, D.C., on the Cheap.

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