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Reality TV faces real estate realities

So-called reality television shows attract not only the attention of viewers and reviewers, but also the IRS and other creditors.

extreme_makeover_dvdOne of the most popular such programs in recent years has been ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The show is designed to provide financially struggling and often-times ailing or disabled persons into better homes.

But tax and other financial issues keep intruding on the show's fantasy endings.

Back in 2006, and blogged about here, some tax experts raised questions about the associated property taxes on the Extreme Makeover houses. The network has always contended that it structures its giveaways so as to satisfy any IRS claims against the recipient families.

Extreme housing crisis crunch: Yet sometimes, things still don't go as planned. And now the housing crisis has hit TV-provided residences, too.

This July, TV Guide reported that an Extreme Makeover House Is Facing Foreclosure. The residence was built for an Atlanta-area family, who then used the home as collateral for a loan. Things started going downhill from there and the house was scheduled to go on the foreclosure auction block last month. The Digerati Life looks at this, and another Extreme Makeover home deal gone bad, here.

Now the show itself is feeling the housing crunch.

This week's print edition of TV Guide reports that when Extreme Makeover: Home Edition begins its new season on Sept. 28, the program will be offering homes that don't cost owners a fortune.

Show producers tell the magazine that now Ty Pennington and crew will turn to "solar panels, Energy Star electronics and, yes, smaller homes to save money."

"Houses don't need to be 10,000 square feet in order to be extreme," executive producer Anthony Dominici told TV Guide. "Extreme is building homes that work for the family based on their needs. … We want to double our efforts to give people responsible homes."

Good news for the Harpers? The Harper family, "winners" of the Georgia home set for foreclosure apparently are now OK.

In the TV Guide article about the downsizing of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, there's a photo of the couple, Milton and Patricia Harper, and their TV-built home, with a banner proclaiming "Saved from Foreclosure." This Atlanta Journal-Constitution story published the day before the planned auction says the couple worked out a deal with their lender so they could stay current with their payments.

I do hope the Harpers' deal pans out. But the real life vs. TV reality is that good fortune alone isn't enough to attain or maintain financial security. That's why so many lottery winners end up bankrupt.

And as the ABC new-home program reveals, actual reality can hit hard. Once the keys to the new house are turned over to the owners, they are left on their own to keep up with the associated bills.

As for the Harpers, it looks like they have turned to yet another TV show, Dr. Phil, to help them cope with their money troubles. Interesting pattern here. I hope it works out better than their first financial encounter via television.


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The Digerati Life

Good to hear an update on the Harpers. Here's hoping we all get over this economic hump soon and the slumps in the real estate and investing markets!


Heh, when it's on reality TV you know it's real... My main concern throughout the housing crunch are the people. I hope that everyone finds stability! I am lucky to work with ShoreBank - because we've helped so many people throughout the housing crisis through programs like the Rescue Loan Program. I think ShoreBank is successful because of the bank's commitment to social responsibility. Here's information: http://shorebankdirect.sbk.com/

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