Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


When HGTV Imitates Life

When real estate professionals talk about HGTV, we sound sort of smug.  The conversation often is about how unrealistic these shows are.  Who buys after seeing only three homes?  How do they keep the renovation budgets so low? But there is one thing that HGTV gets right.

On the "House Hunters" features, one criteria that the home buyers or renters give their agents is a price range.   More often than not, the agent brings them to a place that is supposed to knock their socks off, and it's pretty much always above their price range.  

When a client tells me what they want to spend for a house or condo, I try to dig a little deeper.

  • How much do you want your monthly paymnet to be?
  • Have you spoken to a lender, and is this amount consistent with what they'll qualify you for?
  • Are you talking about the check you write each month, or should I include the savings from your tax deduction?
  • If it's a condo, we'll need to take the monthly fee and what it does or does not include into the equation.

Then once we tease it all out, I'm really careful to respect the resulting price limits.  

My own buyers, like buyers everywhere, often come to me with champagne taste and a beer budget.  And we wind up finding something they love and a price that works.

This doesn't mean there won't be compromises.  We might have to check out alternative neighborhoods.  They might have to look at homes that are smaller or that have fewer features than were on their original lists.  

And at the end of the day, my clients almost never wind up spending more money than they think is prudent for their situation.  That is a compromise that fewer people seem to be willing to make these days.

If you are planning a move to or from the Washington, DC metro area, please call me (202-549-5167) or email me ( before you make any important real estate decisions.  

And CLICK HERE to search for your next home.  


Comment balloon 38 commentsPatricia Kennedy • December 23 2013 04:20PM


You are right on target for what our market really is today! I love your sense of humor.

Posted by Anna Hatridge, Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC (R Gilliam Real Estate LLC) almost 7 years ago

Hi Pat - it's all about knowing and asking the right questions whether it be a buyers purchasing power or comfort level when it comes where they want to live.  I think it would be great if my buyers thought they needed to see only three homes before making a decision.  :)

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 almost 7 years ago

Some buyers say to me "I feel like I am on "House Hunters" when they are looking at houses, giving feedback.  I laugh, a lot of people must watch it!

Posted by Catherine Ulrey, Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist (Keller Williams Capital City) almost 7 years ago

Patricia there's nothing like a good old beer budget when looking at Champagne taste homes..... ha! Real Estate got to love it. Best wishes and hope you have a blessed Merry Christmas.

Posted by Ba`b Ratliff, "Sold with Bob" (Robert Ratliff Realty) almost 7 years ago


When you see the HGTV House Hunters, the home is already bought, and they just go through the motions.  They already know which home is theirs--LOL...A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) almost 7 years ago

Thanks for your comments!

And here it's sort of beer taste, champagne budget!  

Several of my colleagues have been on Househunters, and yeah, it's all over and done with by the time we see it.

They should do another show with all of the drama between finding "The One" and actually getting to the settlement table.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

In our area of rapidly rising prices and extreme shortage of homes for sale, almost every one of my buyers paid more for their home than they had started out wanting and planning to pay. But, none of them paid more than they can afford; let's hope it remains that way.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Hi Pat,

Sounds like your buyers depend and trust on you to find them the right home they are willing to pay for..great guidance goes a long way!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899) almost 7 years ago

It seems to me that most of the buyers in my market want the same thing.  Not to spend any money but a newer house.  In my market you can buy a newer home for about $135,000 that is decent.  Buyers want that house for $100 or under even though they are qualified for $200,000.  Sometimes it takes a while...

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Respect goes a long way!  I love it.  Kristine

Posted by Kim & Kristine Halverson, Sisters, Realtors (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Pat, Ironically I know some of the agents who have been on these show....I will leave it at that...some viewers think that is "reality" NOT!!!!, Endre on a side note have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) almost 7 years ago

Good morning Patricia. This made me smile because you are so right. It is important to respect the clients thinking and do your best. Mant differences in real life to the TV world. Merry Christmas.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 7 years ago

I think it's unwise to buy something at the edge of one's ability to pay.  So, as you say, compromise is the order at the end of the day.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I agree with the others...I have some buyers now who are pretty unreasonable, but they just need an education....Happy HOlidays!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) almost 7 years ago

HI Patricia,

That was a fun blog thanks for sharing and putting a smile on my face.

We all wish we had clients like in television..... not really, but once in while would be ok.

Happy Holidays and a Pfanntastic 2014

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC almost 7 years ago

With so much available information out there, it is a little surprising that so many people still come to the process with so many unrealistic expectations.  They could save themselves a lot of grief or not even start the process at all.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

I was on one of the popular home reality shows this year and what I found a bit deflating after filming was that the home I was visiting as an agent at a brokers open house was actually sold a couple months prior to filming.  Reality is a bit unrealistic.

Posted by Jay & Michelle Lieberman, Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos (Keller Williams World Class) almost 7 years ago

Buyers in D.C. are lucky to have your guidance, Pat.  Many have learned the hard way that buying "too much house" can have devastating results.

Have a very Merry Christmas!!

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) almost 7 years ago


Patricia, This is a great post and so worthy of a Feature.  I could not agree with you more. Buyers need to understand the numbers and know their bottom line.  Most do make compromises but only those that work for them to align with their budget.


Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) almost 7 years ago

Great blog. I like seeing the homes on HGTV. I also like how nice the people are to each other.

Posted by Lori Bowers, The Lori Bowers Group almost 7 years ago

Pat -- this is what makes you such a good professional.  You know what questions to ask to help your buyers make informed choices and find a home that fits their needs and their budget.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 7 years ago

I always laugh at HGTV until I found a client the perfect home on the third showing. lol Sometimes life does imitate tv. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) almost 7 years ago

Hi Patricia. Yep, the botom line is what usually makes or breaks the deal. We really want our buyers to figure in the monthly HOA fees, especially in the case of condos where it might be surprisingly high!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or almost 7 years ago

Hi Patricia,

You've been in the business a long time, way before HGTV. If I was a buyer, I'd trust you over reality shows that aren't real! As far as I know, you ARE the real deal! You speak the truth! When it comes to home buying and selling you ARE the truth!

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) almost 7 years ago

Hello Patricia:

When I was a consumer and had many revocations in my corporate life, I could not get over the caviler attitude of real estate agents who consistently tried to show me properties higher than the stated price I have given them.   After all, what don't you understand about my top end = $xxx,xxx?

I have since come to learn that many brokerages actually want their agents to do this, believing they will increase their commissions. I say hog wash.

We have picked many buyers here in Sun City Texas who went to the big brokerage in town first, got this up sell treatment, and came running out the door to us.  Our brokerage will never show a more expensive property unless the buyer gives us permission to do so, or asks to have the range increased.

Great post


Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Posted by Brian Rugg, Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est (Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700) almost 7 years ago

I agree, all of those things must be determined before we look at a single house. And since many people think they can afford more than what the lender may think, I ask them to get preapproved before we look. Then I have some assurance that I won't have buyers who fall in love with a house but can't get a loan to purchase it. If we're looking at condos or another community with association dues, I find out from the lender what range of dues will fit within the approved amount. Those dues can vary widely from one place to another, and can have an affect on how much the buyers can afford.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) almost 7 years ago

Patricia  Merry Christmas!

Posted by John G. Johnston, An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO (John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Fees are what they are I guess. You can't go too below the bottom line too often.


Merry Christmas,


Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 7 years ago

Pat- I love how you've taken the time to really discover (and help the buyers discover) what they can buy.  Bringing up HOA fees for example, may be something they never considered. 

Merry Christmas

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 7 years ago

Pat, I have recently successfully sold several homes after only showing three so it can happen.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) almost 7 years ago

Pat,  it is so important for buyers to factor in all the costs of home ownership. Working with a Realtor to take those costs into consideration is important.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) almost 7 years ago


We are experiencing the same thing. Buyers are being prudent in budgeting their housing expense. It's nice to see that moving forward we are unlikely to see them bury themselves in mortgage debt and recreate the mistakes of the last decade.

Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) almost 7 years ago

Patricia, HGTV is there to entertain and not to inform. Keeping within a buyer's budget is very important today. Have a great holiday and Merry Christmas.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 7 years ago

The reality is that they don't show three homes, they only film the showing of three homes. I've often said that what goes on in these shows should be used a training for new agents on what and how not to do things.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) almost 7 years ago

Your questions are going to make it happen. Dreaming about a home and putting legs on the what remains to be seen

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Pat I too see more consumers conscious of their budget.  Maybe the fact mortgages are harder to get is an external factor.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) almost 7 years ago

Hi Pat - after seeing more like 300 homes (3 houses - yeah right!), we settled on one that was full of all the compromises that made it a good fit for our budget and our dreams...

Posted by Andre R. Aragon, Real Estate Photographer (Greater Tampa Real Estate Photographer) almost 7 years ago

Good list for a buyer to qualify for a mortgage. All these steps must be taken so that disappoinment does not come at the end of all that work.

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) almost 7 years ago