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The Dream Gets Smaller on ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover’

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Fancy, upscale home projects are getting scaled back on TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the hit show on ABC that transforms modest homes into dream homes for struggling families.

The downsize in the dream has come after several recipients of the show’s homes have struggled to afford the house post-makeover, due to higher utility bills and tax assessments, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Some home owners also are finding it difficult to sell the top-notched homes, since the homes tend to be in working-class and rural neighborhoods.

If you’re not familiar with the TV show, each week a struggling family–generally with a heart-wrenching story–is selected to get a custom-designed home. A team of builders, designers, and volunteers overhaul their home in slightly more than 100 hours transform the house into a McMansion, complete with every upgrade imaginable–from bowling lanes to carousels to even a 5,300-square-foot castle home with five bedrooms, five fireplaces, and seven bathrooms (it is called “Extreme” Makeover, after all).

The average size of the “Makeover” homes is 2,800 to 3,000 square feet.

But these dream homes come at a costly price–higher utility bills and bigger tax assessments, which have left some of the recipients of the homes in foreclosure.

So in a sign of economic realities, producers have decided to downsize the dream.

No more over-the-top amenities. Swimming pools aren’t even a given, unless needed for therapy reasons. And the producers will be concentrating more on finding ways to incorporate energy efficient savings, such as low water-flow toilets and solar panels.

Hopefully, the show will be able to show that dream homes can also come in smaller, more energy-efficient, practical — and let’s not forget, affordable — packages.

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