If You Watch HGTV, a New Study Has Troubling News for You About Your Home

If Meta  (META) – Get Free Report‘s Instagram is known for making people feel bad about their lives and appearance, it’s not the only platform to do so — new research finds that various home makeover shows can have a similar effect around the place that one calls home.

As the Warner Brothers  (WBD) – Get Free Report-owned home improvement channel HGTV exploded in popularity over the last two decades, shows like “Fixer Upper” and “Property Brothers” have shown more than one generation just what can be done to an old home with enough work and money — but, on the flip side, it’s also made many homeowners feel worse about where they live.

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The research paper, which was published by Bucknell University associate professor of design Annetta Grant and Queen’s University professor of marketing Jay M. Handelman, found that HGTV leads certain homeowners to not only compare their own properties to those featured on the shows but also constantly consider resale value and how what they have will later fare on the market.

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Homeowners Now ‘Always Kind Of Fearful About Getting It Wrong’

“They’re seeing everything that’s wrong with their home and imagining when people come into their home [that] they’re also criticizing and scrutinizing and judging their home,” Grant told the Washington Post for a feature on the phenomenon. “It really makes people feel quite uneasy about the decisions that they make in their home, and so they’re always kind of fearful about getting it wrong.”

Also calling it being “torn between two ideas of what the home should be,” Grant said that those who would have previously remodeled their homes only to suit their personal needs and preferences are now constantly thinking about how it will affect resale potential — this is true even for those who have no plans of selling any time soon.

The study, which talked to 17 homeowners who are currently in the midst of home upgrades or renovations, found that many feel pressure to be “that smart homeowner who has invested in my home and now, on paper, my home is worth so much more.” Grant dubbed such considerations the “market-reflected gaze.”

HGTV has not replied to requests for comment on Grant and Handelman’s research but many homeowners who came across the study said it resonated.

Amid Home Price Bounceback, ‘Everything Is For The Next Homeowner’

“I never painted anything,” Mehnaz Khan, an Albany-based color psychology researcher who has been living in her newly-built home for the last few months, told the Washington Post. “I lived in those white walls and I was always thinking about the next homeowner. Everything was for the next homeowner.”

These tendencies are also exacerbated by the current state of the market — after more than a decade of unfettered home price growth, many cities are seeing a bounceback and correction for actual demand.

Since the start of 2023, the average U.S. home price has seen a number of month-to-month declines and homeowners are no longer as confident in their ability to sell.

Seeing some of the highest numbers of new transplants during the pandemic, states like Arizona, Nevada and Utah are now leading the nation when it comes to homeowners who lower the original listing price to lure in a seller.

Since a high degree of customization always lowers a home’s “sellability,” even a small shift toward a buyer’s market makes homeowners more wary of any home improvement project.

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