If you’ve spent any amount of time in front of a TV lately, you have undoubtedly seen the rapidly growing amount of reality TV shows based on real estate. This shouldn’t surprise anyone considering how the white-hot the real estate market over the last several years has created tremendous opportunities for investors.
As a result, a large segment of Americans who see friends and acquaintances in their circles making substantial money now, either as their main source of income or as a side hustle, by investing in real estate, are becoming increasingly interested in getting into it themselves.
But experts say that real estate investing isn’t for the timid or inexperienced. There is a lot to learn before you can make sound financial investments in real estate, and as the market evolves, which often happens rapidly lately, the criteria that make a potential deal good or bad can change dramatically. Unfortunately, they say, a lot of real estate themed TV shows present an inaccurate picture of how the industry really works.
“The entertainment industry has been creating new real estate-themed TV shows in record numbers to meet the demand of its audiences. The problem is, they’re focusing more on the entertainment aspect and nowhere near enough on the education aspect. This puts viewers in a dangerous position, in my opinion, because it’s giving them an unrealistic perspective on how the industry works, leading to poor decisions when they try their hand at real estate investing based on what they saw on the 100th cookie cutter TV show about flipping,” says Dr. Adam Leffler, who runs the real estate-themed TV network, Bargain House Network.
He says producers should be focused on what he calls “Edutainment,” which blends education and entertainment in a way that teaches valuable knowledge while keeping viewers engaged. Leffler’s network airs several real estate-themed shows, all of which heavily emphasize this approach.
One of the newer TV shows taking this approach is Funding Faceoff, which gives viewers an inside perspective on what makes a deal good or bad. Deal presenters pitch their deals to a panel of expert deal makers and then negotiate terms in real time on the set. The show’s creator, Lori Greymont, says, “Often, it’s not a matter of a deal being good or bad, but more a matter of making a deal good. I live by the philosophy that great deals are made, not found, and we demonstrate that in every single episode. I believe that brings incalculable value to viewers because it teaches them how to structure a good deal where others may not see one.”
A&E’s long running show, Zombie House Flipping, is another example of getting it right. Rather than just showing the exciting and dramatic aspects of real estate investing, producers made it a point to add some of the top professionals in the industry as cast members and focus heavily on the gritty details that most shows gloss over or omit entirely. This creates a more accurate picture of the industry while providing viewers with actionable information they can implement in their own real estate investing. This is especially important when you consider the fact that while most Americans believe they have a strong grasp on financial literacy, a majority truly do not. That has far-reaching implications, not only for individuals, but also for businesses, communities, and even society as a whole.
One of the show’s hosts, Nicole Espinosa, also known as The Short Sale Queen, says that she insisted on showing the reality of the industry, and specifically the process behind flipping properties, before agreeing to be on the show.
“I’ve made mistakes, like anyone else in the industry, so I know first hand how damaging they can be to your financial stability. So when A&E approached me about this show, I insisted that we show everything—ugly warts and all, so that we give people the right advice. This was important to me because most people have a lot of financial misconceptions,” Espinosa said.
In fact, the lack of knowledge on this topic is so widespread and deep that the Florida Department of Education, under the DeSantis administration, recently signed a law to incorporate a financial literacy program into the K-12 public school curriculum to combat it. The working group responsible for developing this curriculum is made of a combination of educators as well as noted financial experts, including Kim Kiyosaki, Dr. David Phelps, and Yanely Espinal, among others.
Kim Kiyosaki is co-founder and CEO of The Rich Dad Company, best known for the popular personal finance book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. Kim is also an avid real estate investor. Kim says, “Financial literacy is one of, if not the most, important subjects a young person can learn today. The main reason so many people struggle financially is because they were never taught anything about money. Money is a life skill. It touches every part of our lives. We work very hard for the money we make, yet many do not have the financial knowledge to effectively manage and grow that money. As an advocate for financial literacy, I applaud those creating these TV programs for their dedication to financial education.”
Dr. Phelps, who is regularly cited for his expertise on financial topics, said, “I’m starting to see a noticeable shift in thinking about financial literacy. People are realizing they don’t know as much as they thought they knew, and they want to change that. And then you have the fallout from the pandemic and the great resignation, which is driving more people to take a more active and direct role in their financial lives and achieve financial freedom because it’s becoming clear to everyone that the economy doesn’t work the way they thought it did. These factors together, I believe, are responsible for the growing interest in accurate and realistic real estate-themed television programming.”
This shift in thinking has led to a shift in the types of programming available. In the past, most was focused on real estate agents, but today, it is increasingly focused on the investing side of the industry. This is a positive thing because as more people achieve greater financial literacy, they’ll make better financial decisions and will have “skin in the game,” so to speak, which lifts the economy as a whole.
The end result is that we’ve gone from just a handful of real estate-themed TV shows just a few years ago to dozens of them today. And with the growing volatility in the real estate market, driven by inflation, rising interest rates, and shrinking demand, it’s likely that we’ll see even more added to the lineup because opportunities are created not when the market is firing on all cylinders, but rather when it declines.
As more TV shows about real estate empower more people to take control of their financial lives, businesses, communities, and the nation as a whole will become stronger, lifting more people up and creating a more stable economy for everyone.
And it’s worth noting that all of the people who are being asked to be a part of these TV shows are being asked because they’ve demonstrated both their expertise and ability to clearly articulate it by talking about real estate topics from stage—further reinforcing the impact that public speaking can have on your career trajectory.
So get out there and start sharing your expertise from the stage because that will create opportunities for you and your business that you likely wouldn’t otherwise earn.