HGTV's "Love It or List It" pro forma Handles Dilemma of Whether to Remodel or Sell

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I have an odd fondness for shows about buying and selling homes. I also like shows about weddings, which has nothing to do with nothing except I don't have anything to do with either of these activities in any way so there you have it.

HGTV is the go-to network for shows about real estate and all connected with, including my favorite "House Hunters", but also there's "Property Virgins" and now another favorite, "Love It or List It".

A summary from HGTV's site:

When a house no longer feels like home, homeowners are left with a big financial and emotional question: renovate or sell it? Love It or List It helps fed-up homeowners decide. In each hour-long episode Realtor David Visentin and designer Hilary Farr compete for the homeowners' final decision to stay or go

This show has an interesting take on the many TV real estate show offerings in that it is a story of homeowners and their wrestle with whether to sell their current home or to renovate the problem areas and keep it.

The show is very formulaic, which is not necessarily a bad thing. After watching it a couple of times, however, one can predict with a bit of ennui just how events on the show will unfold.

It begins with an intro by the distressed homeowner(s) and a summary of their story. In general the homeowners have some sort of great affection for the home they currently own. The location is ideal, perhaps, it's near the children's school, there's a charm they still love. As always, there are also a bevy of issues they have with the home. The bathrooms are too small, the kitchen is outdated or oddly configured, the unfinished basement needs to be made livable.

The homeowners then allocate a certain amount of money to renovation overseer Hilary Farr, usually around $30-$50K, with which Farr is expected to update the home to the homeowners' desire that they will choose, at the end of the show, to "love it".

Meanwhile, Realtor David Visentin is charged with taking the disgruntled homeowners to various homes for sale, homes for sale that should meet the list of the homeowners' requirements.

Then the meat of the show comes upon. Hilary must deal with contractors to tear out walls and lay down new flooring. David takes the home shoppers on tours of various homes up for sale. The viewer, as expected, watches with interest as the drama unfolds to the climax which will have the homeowners loving their newly renovated home or listing their renovated home to buy a home they liked better from the ones shown to them by David.

There's a couple of things that ALWAYS happens during this show.

The contractors renovating the existing home always find something wrong as they tear down walls or expand living areas. It's usually something that eats up much of the allocated renovation dollars, requiring that Hilary make up for the missing funds by eliminating another planned update on the existing home.

One episode had the contractors finding serious insulation problems as they tore out a wall, as well as local ordinances that prohibited a planned expansion of the home. Hilary had to eliminate a basement update to get the funds to add new insulation to an entire story to the home and, of course, the planned expansion could not go forward due to the ordinance prohibition.

Hilary must explain these glitches to the homeowners, who, as always happens, get angry at Hilary and the whole disappointing endeavor.

Which is not to say the search for a new home goes smoothly. David always manages to show homes to the homeowners that are totally inappropriate, often even WORSE than the home they own.

This too makes the homeowners disgruntled and disappointed, in despair that there's no other home out there that will meet their needs beyond the one they live in. And they've also been disappointed with that.

The idea here is to have the viewers biting fingernails as the show winds down to the ending which will reveal which route the homeowners go as regards their current living situation.

Usually the homeowners are shown a home by David that pleases them, always the third and last one for drama purposes one must suppose. Assumedly smug that there is another choice out there for them, the homeowners are also treated to a grand reveal by Hilary that has the homeowners gasping at the change and glory of their current home.

The decision whether to love or list is a difficult one, as is the show's plan. The viewers wait on edge of seat to hear the homeowners' decision.

The renovated existing home does get a boost in worth due to the improvements. I'm thinking that the finding of missing insulation, tree roots over sewer drains, et al, are probably known to the homeowners in advance. It's presented as a surprise in the show but as I see it, it's all part and parcel of the show's pro forma flow and was the reason why the home was likely selected.

With the serious problem fixed in their existing home, the homeowners can then put their homes on the market for without the improvement they'd likely have to have whatever big issue exists done before putting the existing home up for sale.

The homeowners, by my experience, pick loving their existing home as often as they choose listing so that part of the show is not formulaic and always a surprise. The viewer often sits and awaits the final decision with some drama because the idea is that the viewer too decides the best course of action for the featured homeowners and, as is often the case with these real estate shows, wait anxiously to see if the show's players are as wise as the viewer.

Love It or List It airs on Monday nights on HGTV, at 8pm.

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