Property-related reality TV shows have become a staple of nightly entertainment, offering viewers a glimpse into enviable locations, big life decisions, and the way other people live. However, concerns are being raised about the potential impact these shows may have on viewers’ expectations when it comes to buying property.
Cate Bakos, president of the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia, has recently taken issue with how property purchases are being presented on Channel 10’s “Location, Location, Location.” According to Ms. Bakos, the series could be misleading buyers and putting them at risk of paying too much for an inferior property.
The concern stems from the lack of professional guidance provided by the so-called “property experts” on the show, and the absence of important checks and balances in the buying process. Ms. Bakos stated, “Just because someone has a media profile or tens of thousands of followers on Instagram does not make them a licensed, experienced, nor professional buyers’ agent.”
A professional buyers’ agent, she explained, would evaluate recent sales data, provide a written appraisal on a property’s potential market value, oversee due diligence such as building inspections, pest, survey, and engineering reports, and negotiate the property purchase price and terms. However, Ms. Bakos found no evidence of any of these essential steps in the first two episodes of the latest season of “Location, Location, Location Australia.”
Just because someone has a media profile or tens of thousands of followers on Instagram does not make them a licensed, experienced, nor professional buyers’ agent.
She pointed to several “problems” in the episodes that could present a false idea to property buyers. Most of these issues related to due diligence checks and encouraging buyers to move forward with purchases without conducting adequate research on the property or their finances.
One instance involved buyers being encouraged to bid on a property at auction the next day, potentially exceeding their budget, with clearly insufficient time frames for legal reviews, building inspections, and full due diligence. Another suggestion involved converting the downstairs area of a property to a private retreat without discussing whether the space met legal height requirements for enclosed dwellings.
Beyond that, the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia raised concerns that the show skipped showing comparable sales analyses and asset selection, integral to understanding the value of a property and informing potential buyers on negotiation strategies. Ms. Bakos even claimed that the process of negotiating had disappeared entirely, with buyers encouraged to offer up to their maximum budgets or the vendor’s asking price.
Buying a property comes with very high stakes, and finding oneself in possession of a “real estate lemon” could severely impact financial futures. While these shows might be entertaining, Ms. Bakos urged producers to ensure they’re working with professionals who will still mention all the due diligence that should take place.
“We are talking about the most money that many people will generally pay for anything in their entire lives, plus, it will play a big part in their future financial position during retirement,” she said.
The cautionary note here is that viewers should remember that “while reality television may be entertaining, it is far from reality.” The portrayal of property buying on reality TV may indeed be warping expectations, and potential buyers should be aware of the complexities and due diligence required in the real world of property investment.