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3 Money Lessons We Can Learn from Real Estate Shows Thumbnail

3 Money Lessons We Can Learn from Real Estate Shows

I don’t watch much TV, but from time to time it’s nice to turn your brain off. The other day I found myself watching one of the 14,000 real estate shows that are available. It seems like these have multiplied at an exponential rate over the past few years.

The Formula

I want to share a secret with you that I’ve discovered. They’re all pretty much the same! You can make one of these shows too, but you’ll need to know a few things about their formula. Here's what you'll need: 


Current or aspiring homeowners-This must be a couple. Sorry, these are the rules. It’s also best if they get along but have some potential to disagree on camera during filming. They also need to have a current living situation that you can show as being too small, run down, or defective in some way.

Hosts-Next, you’ll need some hosts. A duo works best here. You’ll one host to concentrate on talking to the couple and the other to concentrate on the house hunting or renovation work. Oh, one of them needs to have a catch phrase too.

House-The home in question is an important character too. It will need to be something the couple wants, but not too much. You also want something they’ll disagree on.  It also needs to be flawed in some way, just not too much. 


The most pivotal part of the show formula is when something the homeowner wants is going to exceed their budget. Will they do it? Will they settle for something less to stay in their budget? Of course not! That would be bad for the show.


The blueprint for these shows is something we can joke (and laugh) about. There’s still some truth in how these same things can happen in real life.

Financial Lessons

Here’s three things that happen in these shows and lessons we can learn:


We made a budget and then saw a shiny thing

It’s a staple of these shows to blow through a budget. It doesn’t matter if it’s a home they’re buying or renovating.


“It has an extra room for my [insert name of hobby]”

“If we knock out this wall then we’ll have the OPEN CONCEPT we’ve always wanted!”

 "The yard one this one is so much bigger”


It’s a guarantee that it’s going to happen. How many times has this happened to you? It happens with all manner of things besides real estate.

Lesson: A budget is only useful if you adhere to it. Before you set out on your real estate adventure, put together a realistic budget. Recognize it may include some trade-offs. As you go through the process, keep revisiting your budget to make sure you’re sticking to it and see if carefully considered adjustments should be made.



Someone talked us into something

This is a key job for the host. They are there to talk the couple into buying a bigger house, installing the upgraded countertops, or the deck out back for entertaining. It might as well be a cartoon where opposing viewpoints appear on the main character’s shoulder.


“If we knock out this wall, we can give you that OPEN CONCEPT you wanted!”

“If you spend just a little more here, we can get that tile we talked about”

“If you get the bigger one, then at least you have the extra space, just in case.”


Lesson: Ever hear the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses”? External words or forces are always there to convince you there’s something bigger and better you need. Take care to make your own decision and not the decision of someone else.



I just want this to be done

Fatigue is a real thing. Decision fatigue is a real thing we face that affects our financial lives. The idea is the more decisions you are asked to make, the lower quality your decisions become. Real estate is full of many decisions and an easy place to get caught with decision fatigue.


How many times have you made a decision just for the sake of being done with something? Was it the best decision you could make? Probably not, but it’s something we’ve all done before. Your home, because it has many decisions associated with it, is one of the easiest places to get caught in this.


Lesson: Remember that anything dealing with real estate will be a long process, even in the rosiest of conditions. Hold your spouse accountable and ask them to do the same of you. Take the time to make the right decision and not a quick one.


"For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God." Hebrews 3:4 ESV

What other tropes from real estate shows have taught you something?


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