Hearth and Home in 2009 on TV

Today's cuppa: English breakfast tea latte from the coffeeshop

Many of us still have real estate on the brain as 2008 winds down, whether we're directly or indirectly affected by the burst of the bubble. I decided to close out my syndicated Open Letter column for 2008 -- and this is the last one, since I'm devoting time to other efforts in 2009 -- to how television is dealing with the rapidly changing situation.

Best wishes to you and yours for a prosperous, peaceful and healthy New Year...

Hgtv_logo_135 'Tis the New Year, time for holiday goodie regrets, fervent promises to improve and bold predictions for the future.


Last year, I'm sure there were plenty of regrets, but I wonder if any of the promises involved not taking out a home-equity loan, signing on to a mortgage that was too large or running up the credit card to get that big-screen plasma television.


And I'm pretty darn sure that nobody predicted the economy would fall apart like a cheap suit before the autumn leaves had a chance to fall.


You gotta love experts -- they're right, right up until the day they're wrong. And the day after that, somebody puts their mugs on television to do it all over again.


This goes double for economists.


Anyway, hope springs eternal, so HGTV is not even waiting for New Year's Day dinner to be put on the table before it trots out shows that find the silver lining in the dark real-estate-crash cloud (of course, if you're a renter looking to buy on the cheap, it's a happy, happy time -- just try not to grin too broadly around your homeowner friends whose ARMs just adjusted).


In the afternoon on Thursday, Jan. 1, the cablenet previews a new bunch of shows dealing with various aspects of the housing situation.


They are...


"The Unsellables": British property guru Sofie Allsopp and contractor Anthony Sayers advise home sellers how to spruce up the less-than-appealing parts of their homes to help raise the asking price and get the place sold.


"Desperate to Buy": Says the press release, "Even in this economy, there are still reasons why people need to buy a home in a hurry." Yeah, those old-fashioned reasons, like needing a place to live, rather than trying to make a quick buck. But I digress. On this show, viewers follow anxious home buyers through the high-stress purchase process.


"Income Property": Nope, this isn't house flipping; it's more like the modern equivalent of taking in boarders. Homeowners transform unused spaces into "rental suites" to help defray mortgage costs.


There's another show, "The Property Shop," about the "madcap" adventures of a real estate agent, but that airs later in the evening. Yep, it actually says "madcap" in the press release.


I've wondered before, and no doubt will again, where the real estate TV show craze will go in the new economic reality. This looks like another indication that the genre has come down to earth (that is, except for the "madcap" agent, perhaps -- and maybe the annual HGTV "Dream Home," airing New Year's night. Click here for details.)


And when you're done watching all these shows, may I humbly recommend "The Dave Ramsey Show," weeknights on Fox Business Network? The folksy, plain-spoken Ramsey, who's also a radio host and author, counsels people on how to get and live debt-free.