HGTV is a lie.

OK, OK, that was a little bit bold. Let’s take a step back.

It’s easy to see why home shows are so appealing. At the end of the day, what could be better than sinking into a couch and watching other people stress over the details of buying, selling, or decorating their homes? It’s fun to roast bad interior design choices. It’s easy to yell at the TV when the photogenic couple chooses the Colonial with a Commute instead of the High Rise in the Heart of It All.

And when you’re watching home shows – especially flipping, fixer upper, and property development shows – it’s easy to get swept up in the fantasy of it all. So much so, that you may just start to daydream of getting into the real estate business yourself.

After an hours-long marathon of brightly lit flipping show after brightly lit flipping show, it’s easy to start thinking that you could flip houses, too. That you would know an investment property the moment you see it. That you could even try to sell your home yourself – after all, you’ve seen real estate TV, so you have just as much training as a Realtor, right?

But here’s the thing – and you probably know this already, but it’s always worth a reminder – reality shows aren’t necessarily always real. We’re definitely not the first blog to point this out. Here’s Vulture, encouraging readers to “beware HGTV’s house flipping fantasy loop.” Or here’s Cheat Sheet, running down “7 Surprising Lies HGTV Told You About Buying a Home These Days.” The Atlantic: House Hunters is a Lie.”

The power of editing, lighting, and makeup can’t be underestimated. On TV, a process that might take months may go by in the blink of an eye. Work that would be grueling and back-breaking flips past via a jaunty musical montage. And problems and setbacks? On TV, they’re small and easy to resolve. So often, on TV, the biggest issue that a home flipper faces is that a shipment of their favorite tile is delayed, or the HVAC system has to be updated for a few thousand dollars. But, a quick phone call and a commercial break later, and – bam. Problem solved, and suddenly it’s time for the open house full of enthusiastic would-be buyers.

In reality? Development projects hit snags all the time, and some of them aren’t so easily fixed.

Here in Chicago, our home base, residential and commercial real estate development projects can take a significant amount of work to get off the ground. That may be due to technical problems, but, often enough, it’s also due to the sorts of hurdles that never make it past the editing bay on TV: title issues, contract disputes, zoning laws. Maybe the problem has to do with a historical commission, or a licensing board, or an easement grantor or zoning board. Or perhaps it’s a question of tax liabilities, or a local commercial development law that’s easy to overlook. 

These sorts of obstacles and setbacks don’t necessarily make for juicy television – but they’re a real fact of life for homebuyers and developers here in Chicagoland. They affect home projects large and small, whether we’re talking about a couple wanting to buy or build a house; a corporation converting commercial properties to residential; or a commercial developer looking to change the Chicago skyline.

Ok, so what’s the bottom line? What’s the point to this little “reality” (TV) check?

Long story short, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot of work that goes into real estate, and much of it is invisible. If you’re considering dipping your toe into the water, it’s important to have a team around you that knows the ins and outs of the process, and can help get your project off the ground and moving forward, on a timeline that works for you.

Often enough, that’s going to mean having an experienced, professional real estate attorney on your side. For families and developers alike, an attorney is an invaluable partner. The reality is that, when it comes to real estate, the way your paperwork is put together can significantly affect your long-term financial goals. It’s essential to get the right papers in the right places, addressed by the right people, at the right times, in order to to move your project forward. A knowledgeable attorney can help you get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed correctly, helping you reach your real estate goals as quickly and as smoothly as humanly possible.

That’s where the Gunderson Law Firm would love to step in and help. Our attorneys and staff possess unparalleled expertise and insight, reinforced by years of experience and long-term connections throughout Chicago’s real estate, finance, and insurance industries. Every day, we work to help make our clients’ biggest ambitions come to life – no camera crew or wardrobe department required. To get in touch, drop us a line today.