The format of the show is simple. Between 2005-2007, the show took footage of inexperienced house-flippers as they chronicled their attempts to make money fixing up properties for profit. The host (the lovely Kirsten Kemp) came in toward the beginning of each episode and offered some advice about the newbies' plans and timeline. Most of these people tackled the project as a second or part-time effort to supplement their income. While the earlier episodes almost always ended with the property getting sold, the housing market crisis took its toll and toward the 2007 episodes some of the flippers held onto or rented the renovated properties to try to make their expenses back. The cautionary lessons from the Property Ladder episodes I have seen so far is that unexpected delays inevitably occur; flippers are at the mercy of their contractors/laborers; and required permits/inspections may not occur in a timely fashion. Most of all, the longer a flipper works on a place, the most unrealistic he or she becomes about the asking price. They fall in love with the property, which is not ideal for either buying or selling. I would love for this show to come back, because I think you can't possibly avoid learning something about the real estate market craze of the 2000s.
The other reviewer on IMDb (so far) for this show gave it a low rating, because (he said) a lot of the defects of the properties were covered up. That certainly seems shady and unethical, but I haven't seen much on the show that a decent inspection wouldn't uncover. They certainly don't promote swindling the buyers. I feel the show is valuable because it lets us know what to look for when we do buy houses.
My personal reasons for loving the show as a bit of a guilty pleasure might not apply to everyone, but I'll describe them anyway.
First off, the host and expert flipper Kirsten Kemp is smoking hot. I'd watch her read the phone book. Plus, the show is edited to make her look even more like a genius. Seeing others try and fail to capitalize on our nation's recent housing insanity kinda makes me glad I never got mixed up in all of that (at least not directly... we're all paying the price in the aftermath).
What it really is, is schadenfreude. That basically means I am just loving watching these tools fail episode after episode. It's like a roller coaster. You start out on solid ground, get excited as they plan their changes, then whiz over the steep cliff as they make one bad decision after another. Usually at the end you get some sort of closure, which I suppose is like the coaster returning to the platform. I have (some) sympathy for the inexperienced house-flippers who thought they could mess around for a few weeks and make loads of money. Some of them actually succeed, though I wouldn't want to buy any of the houses these newbs worked on. However, the most enjoyment of this show comes as we see every bad decision they make ratchet up the pressure and frustration. At the end you are just glad it's not you.
I rent a place that seems to have been rapidly fixed up, in a cosmetic sense. The idea of buying one gives me the chills. I understand the mid-2000s were a confusing time for real estate speculators, but the show basically validates my hesitation to enter the overpriced housing market against my better judgment. If only Jeopardy! could provide the same confirmation of my brilliance.
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