Some “Extreme Makeover” Homeowners want out!

I love to watch home decorating shows on TV. Everything from “Curb Appeal” to “Trading Spaces“, but especially “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition“. I don’t know if it’s the goofy but cute, energetic host, the amazing decorating ideas, or the tear-jerker stories, but I am addicted. However, one question has always plagued me about those happy homeowners. What happens AFTER they move that bus and the camera crews pack up and Ty and the Gang move on to their next conquest? Sure, they have a great new home, fabulous decor, pristine landscaping, sometimes even a pool, but if their situation was difficult to begin with, how do they maintain all of that?

I wonder what the difference in utility bills is when you go from a 1,000 square foot house to a 3,500 one, with all the gadgets built right in. I’m sure they’re Energy Star appliances and all, but the costs must be more than the family had budgeted before. What about chemicals for that new pool or hottub? What about fertilizer, irrigation, and plantings to keep up the gorgeous landscaping? What about cleaning such a huge house?

With the increase in value comes an increase in property taxes. Homeowners must be prepared for that, and able to keep their tax bills current. Some homeowners who have won the fabulous new home now have to put it up for sale because they can’t pay the higher taxes. One article I read said that the taxes went from about $1,500 to $6,000, and the couple’s parents had to help them pay the bill– not a crisis, but a hardship definitely. Another article said the tax bill went up to about $60,000, and that family has no choice but to sell.

I don’t mean to be a downer or to take away from the charitable aspect of the show. I believe strongly in helping others and giving back to the community, and I am very appreciative of how Extreme Makeover helps. I just think that the show should be sure that people know what they are getting themselves into, and help them prepare for the issues that may arise later.

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6 thoughts on “Some “Extreme Makeover” Homeowners want out!

  1. ethnicomm says:

    I myself wonder the same thing. It’s like buying a Lamborghini but not being able to afford the gas! You look good but for how long?

    Also, when you sell, what impact does that have on your personal income tax?

    They should include a self-financing fund that allows for these incremental expenses IMHO.

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  2. Mom says:

    I agree! These folks are put in an awkward and financial difficult postion. Are they able to sell and downsize and come out on top?
    Good posting.
    Love you,
    Mom

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  3. Todd says:

    You know….people have GOT to have common sense.

    Anyone who goes and applies for Extreme Makeover without thinking about the ramifications of what such a monumental transformation of their living arrangements from dumpy to luxury will do to their monthly budgets is either oblivious, completely blind or they never meant to stay in the home post completion.

    The questionnaire for Extreme Makeover is 13 pages long. It asks you every question imaginable! One portion of the series of questions is “Would you be prepared for the possibility of your property taxes significantly increasing if you were to be chosen for a Makeover?”.

    The show is now in its 6th season. Over 130 episodes and they are getting record numbers of applications.

    Seems people are just not concerned about the financial consequences of having their homes made over.

    I look at this show for all the good it does for the family, and the property values of the homes around the made over home which goes up some.

    I look at the show as bringing communities together, helping people in need, and allowing us to see that there is indeed still magic and guardian angels in this world that care.

    In addition to the property taxes, utility bills and maintenance costs that go up, so does the value of the home….sometimes, even when the home still has a significant mortgage on it, the home doubles or triples in value which means INSTANT EQUITY for the homeowner.

    There are equity lines of credit that can be taken out at reasonable interest rates, equity cashouts that are considered income and taxed accordingly in addition to any number of programs that could help the family adjust to their new costs of living.

    People need to stop thinking that Ty and the Design Team are leaving families in the lurch in their wake as they pass through towns all across this country and realize that the new home really does represent a new beginning, and just be happy for them.

    If the homeowner wasn’t upfront enough on their application and they lose the home after it’s made over, that’s on them. But the Design Team didn’t force them to apply either.

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  4. mmorris says:

    Thank you so much Todd, for your comments!! It sounds like you really know a lot about the show.

    I have wondered if people go on the show with the intention of seeling the home and then just paying cash for a downsized house.

    I had no idea about what questions they ask these families, although I knew it must be an intense interviewing process.

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  5. Al says:

    Funny that I found this, but my co-worker sent me this article today:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/28/AR2008072802587.html?hpid=topnews

    Notice the part that says:
    “In that particular episode of the hyper-benevolent reality show, which first aired in February 2005, it took 1,800 volunteers a week to demolish the house with the overflowing septic tank that belonged to Milton and Patricia Harper of Lake City, Ga., and then entirely rebuild a new, larger house, while the Harpers and their three children went away to Disneyland. [b]When they returned, they had the biggest house on Ahyoka Drive, with all the appliances and furnishings, plus enough money to pay taxes on it for decades, plus a fund to send their children to college. “[/b]

    That sounds to me like they were also given a nice chunk of change!

    If it were me, I would make the owners sign over the house to the show and have some sort of “rent to own” option.

    And before people think the show is about really helping people, it’s not. It’s about ratings and selling advertising.

    Check out: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0327062extreme1.html

    They actively seek out those “tear-jerker” stories!

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  6. mmorris says:

    Thanks for the update, AL! I saw that article about the people who took out a big mortgage on their made-over home. It stinks that their business failed, and I’m sure they didn’t think it would, but that is a huge risk to take! It does sound like they were given money towards the taxes and stuff. I bet there are a lot of people who just use that money for other things. than what it is intended for.

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