I’ve watched “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” a couple times, but I can never buy into the show because I’m constantly thinking about what happens after the disadvantaged people move into their ludicrous new McMansions.
Great, you now have an enormous house. But what about property taxes? Increased insurance premiums? The cost of upkeep? Who’s gonna clean that bowling alley every week?
And what do the neighbors think about someone sticking a house fifty times the size of everyone else’s in the middle of the neighborhood? They just gloss right over this stuff, like you’d never think about it. Well, I do. It’s troubling.
And now, it appears those questions are starting to be answered, and not in a good way. The Wall Street Journal published a report about beneficiaries of the show defaulting on their mortgages, and quickly finding out that owning a giant home with a fully functional merry-go-round isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
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In many cases, the bigger, more lavish homes have come with bigger, more lavish utility bills. And bigger tax assessments. Some homeowners have tapped the equity of their super-sized homes only to fall behind on the higher mortgage payments.
The show's producers say they are aware of the problem and are making changes appropriate to current economic reality: downsizing.
ABC will now scale back the redesigns to give the people a more modest makeover. No more shark tanks. No more full-size roller coasters in the playroom.
That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t solve the core problem, namely that the houses will still come with an increased cost of living, and that some of the beneficiaries will take out giant home equity loans against them that they really shouldn’t.
Obviously, this show has its heart in the right place. It’s hard to argue with doing something to help those less fortunate. But giving someone a big house without giving them the resources and knowledge to LIVE in that big house makes the whole enterprise feel hollow. Turns out the “Extreme” part of the makeover is the most unwelcome part.
Next time, perhaps they should just fix the sink.