Thursday, 29 May 2014

Unreal Realtors

If the folks at HGTV have their way, the public would believe that we professional Realtors are pushy unethical salespeople who view clients as foolish prey. Just watch any of the plethora of realty reality programs, where you won’t find any of the common variety of Realtors (read boring and ethical).
Take for instance the popular Love it or List it. Premise of the show; a young family is squeezed like the first Polkski Ogorki at the top of the pickle jar into a teeny weenie house somewhere in Trendy Downtown Toronto. Oh the deficiencies, the anguish of the too small bathroom, the kitchen with five doors and disco era cabinets. The couple are torn between fixing the untenable living conditions or moving to a new home. One partner wants to stay and renovate while the other, well you know…
 Breezing through the front door are the would-be saviors; The savvy cougerish, and ever polished Hilary, designer extraordinaire, and David, the Flamboyant, bombastic and caustic Realtor. From room to room they wander sans homeowner and make snide remarks about the homes’ lack of modern conveniences or functionality.  David panders to the camera with even snider asides about Hilary’s abilities (he secretly has a schoolboy crush on her).  They meet with the hand wringing couple who sit side by side, the tension between them akin to a pair of scrappers in the principal’s office. The spouse who wants to stay reveals the budget for renovations – usually the whole place needs a do-over- and they can spend about 565 bucks. Well maybe a bit more… but far short of what real contractors would charge for the extensive work. Hilary is briefly perplexed at the figure but with a cheery determined nod says “I think I can swing it”. Then David is given a wish list which always demands that the location remain in the Trendy Downtown neighbourhood plus, be larger, with more bedrooms, bathrooms, a finished rec room and deluxe kitchen. They can spend an extra 10k. David remains positive and although David’s brokerage is located in Alliston, the Potato Capital of Ontario, feels he can source some suitable homes for the couple in their demand location.
While David begins showing the couple homes in the area within the price range, Hilary starts the demo.
 I have always felt that dragging a client kicking and screaming through the door does not make for good client relations or future referrals. It does make for interesting TV and when David, bless his heart, inevitably comes up with a whack of duds worse than the couples’ existing house, things turn ugly. They need a three bedroom two storey, he shows them a two bedroom backsplit. They want a big private backyard, he takes them to a place where the Gardiner Expressway is the neighbour on two sides. But “Oh look at this fabulous pantry” he coos over the smelly cubby hole beside the kitchen sink and when the wife is incredulous , he makes a series of faces a mother would love to smack off of him.
 Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Hilary has pretty much gutted the place and awaits with…you guessed it, Bad News. For a designer with decades of experience, she is nonetheless shocked to discover; knob and tube wiring, galvanized plumbing, asbestos insulation, a buried oil tank and also that the house sits atop a Sacred Indian Burial Ground.
Shock, anger and disappointment ensue as Hilary now must fix the structural, environmental, plumbing and electrical issues before getting to the pretty stuff like drywall and toilets. Also Shamans charge an arm and a leg these days. Now, the only work she can complete is the front hall closet. Crestfallen, the couple begin another round of bickering and blame.
Round two begins with David driving the couple far from the comfort zone of Trendy Downtown Toronto to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas where their dream house exists within their price range. The producer likely patted down the couple for weaponry because the drama ramps up as the odometer spins.  Ok, the house is nice but the nearest school is a 90 minute bus ride for the kiddies, Starbucks is in the next county and there isn’t even a Bruno’s , Anywhere!  When they eventually return from the road trip, Hilary has miraculously completed the renos and all is revealed.  Gasps and tears well up in the spouse who got the dream front hall closet and now they must decide to love that damn closet or list the house, get a Winchester 306 and move to them thar mountains.

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