Boston condos for sale: How TV home buying shows distort the buying process

We’ve all seen them. You know, those “reality TV” shows on HGTV, detailing the journey of a first-time home buyer..

For years, these shows have often painted a less than accurate picture of the home buying process. Among the many represented falsehoods, there are a few things viewers should keep in mind when watching these shows:

Finding An Agent Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

On these shows, buyers seem to magically have a trusted REALTOR® in their back pocket – since the process of finding one is never broached. In reality, interviewing several agents for the job of helping you buy a Boston condo for sale is a vital component of the home buying process. In fact, it is estimated that over 70% of Boston condo for sale buyers begin their real estate search by looking at Boston condos for sale online

Many buyers will spend months searching Boston condos for sale on their own, before ever contacting an agent. Unfortunately, they’re often times looking at properties that aren’t even for sale, giving them a false sense of the market.

Properly Searching Homes For Sale Online

Most Boston downtown real estate agents set up online searches for their clients; providing up-to-date listings, fed directly from the local MLS. In fact, 89% of buyers and 93% of Millennials use websites to search for Boston condos for sale, before ever venturing into physical properties for sale. These tech savvy buyers have learned how to effectively use the internet for their home search.

Reality TV shows never include the internet side of home searching, despite it being a big part of the process. In all likelihood, a buyer will have seen the property that they’re touring online before setting foot inside the front door.

Tour More Than Three Houses

Upon viewing these shows, you’d assume that buying a house means looking at three homes and deciding between them. It does happen, but in most cases, buyers see an average of 12 homes (or more) before choosing one to buy.

It’s one thing to decide that you want an open layout, hardwood floors, and a large master suite. However, its another thing entirely when you visit different neighborhoods and walk through homes of different styles, ages, and conditions. In real life, people need time to make one of the biggest financial decisions they’ll ever make. On television, they’ve only have 30 minutes, minus the commercials.

Unrealistic Time Frames & Remodeling Budgets

 In the show you see, a crew of 20 people getting to work, and then the beautiful finished product! To their credit (even if it’s only for dramatic effect), they usually have to tackle the home’s hidden defect, something that causes the project to go over budget and threatens their deadline to get things finished.

In real life, the major remodeling projects are more costly, time consuming and stressful than they appear to be on TV. Knocking down walls, gutting bathrooms and kitchens, is no small project. Not to mention, if you’re trying to live in the Beacon Hill condo while this work is going on.

You Don’t Always Get The House

It’s fascinating how the buyers on these reality shows submit their offer and always get one of the three houses they looked at, even in a seller’s market! It almost makes you wonder if the buyer has already purchased the home when the show is being taped? Nah, couldn’t be. 😉

In real life, buyers deal with multiple offer situations, bad inspections, financing hurdles and an array of other issues. Before starting your home search, prepare yourself mentally and financially to buy a Boston condo for sale, and remember, the entire process doesn’t happen overnight.


At the end of the day, just remember, these reality shows are made for television. The situations can be scripted and things probably aren’t what they appear to be. Despite the challenges along the way, things turn out great in the end and usually things happen the way they are scrip… I mean supposed to.

I enjoy watching many of these shows, and do learn things from time to time. However, when buying a Boston condo for sale in the real world, make sure to follow the advice of a Boston downtown real estate broker, and you’ll be just fine.

Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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