Star properties

Homes featured in real estate reality series have their moment in the spotlight.

Some segments of the current housing market might be trapped in a bubble, but there's no such slump when it comes to real estate shows on television. Home buying/remodeling programs remain a trend on the rise, providing solid business for cable networks such as A&E, Bravo, Home & Garden Television and the Learning Channel and inspiring viewership from prospective buyers and gawkers alike. The genre has moved from the makeover mania of TLC's "Trading Spaces" to focus on every area of the residential home experience, from buying, selling and "flipping" to the anxiety inherent in the process of acquiring or peddling property.

But if you're one of those people whose home is being featured on a show such as HGTV's "Designed to Sell" and "House Hunters" or A&E's "Sell This House," does the exposure and publicity really add value to a home or expedite its sale?

"I definitely do think they help get properties noticed and sold," believes Jonah Wilson, an agent with Sotheby's International Realty's West Hollywood office. "I can tell you that the (Bravo) show 'Million Dollar Listing' definitely helped increase awareness of both the companies involved and some individual homes. And just as a whole, the shows have really upped this industry's popularity and the interest in it."

Gary Gold, an executive vp at realty firm Hilton & Hyland, believes a show like the syndicated "Beautiful Homes & Great Estates" has a bearing on the movement of the opulent properties it features "because it's timed to air when the listing is out there -- and the primary function of the show is to view the house."

Gold has less use, however, for the other real estate shows. "I don't think they're really designed to appeal to people who are interested in buying or selling a home so much as people who like to be entertained," he believes. "A lot of them are more about celebrities than they are houses."

Following is a list of some of the more prominent real estate-themed programs -- because now more than ever, home is where the remote is.

Beautiful Homes & Great Estates
(Syndicated/KABC)
Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 a.m.
The Angle: Spotlights opulent homes and estates from around the world; features interviews with owners, architects and decorators as well as brokers. Produced by Byron Allen
Entertainment/Educational Factor: A valuable resource given that the property exposure coincides with its actual listing, potentially aiding a sale and thus helping raise the bar for the genre
The Bottom Line: A "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" for the infomercial age

Flip This House
(A&E) Multiple airings
The Angle: An hourlong "docu-soap" reality series that follows the travails of real estate developers in Atlanta and San Antonio and their teams of home buyers, renovators and "flippers" as they buy, fix and sell on a rapid turnaround
Entertainment/Educational Factor: Plays up the greed-driven personalities of those involved more than the process of flipping, turning the home-sales game into serialized drama
The Bottom Line: Fun but not terribly insightful about the real estate business

Sell This House
(A&E) Multiple airings
The Angle: Part home-renovation show, part house-selling primer, "Sell This House" focuses on how to get individual homes sold for the most profit and in the shortest amount of time, showing the process from the seller's perspective.
Entertainment/Educational Factor: "House" gives plenty of selling pointers and tips, but better still, it secretly videotapes prospective buyers to illustrate what they're saying about the property in question.
The Bottom Line: An intriguing journey inside the anxiety-riddled mind game that is selling a home

House Hunters
(HGTV) Monday-Friday, 10 p.m.
The Angle: Host Suzanne Whang takes viewers behind the scenes as individuals, couples and families learn the home-search ropes.
Entertainment/Educational Factor: Shines a spotlight on the emotional aspects that go into purchasing a house from the buyer's perspective
The Bottom Line: Puts the "real" in real estate

Designed to Sell
(HGTV) Monday-Friday, 8 p.m.
The Angle: Home sellers are given a $2,000 budget and a team of real estate experts and designers to transform their property from ho-hum to showcase.
Entertainment/Educational Factor: Supplies an abundance of interior design ideas, home-improvement tips and real estate insider secrets while also demonstrating how not to blow a wad on a fix-up if you're selling your home
The Bottom Line: Solid advice for selling a home profitably -- quickly is another matter

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