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Do extreme makeovers lead to extreme financial problems?

Like most reality shows, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition condenses stories of woe into neat little 60-minute packages. The tales may differ. Yet, the end is still the same: a brand new home from the rubble of the old.

Life moved on for the recipients of the quickly constructed dwellings. But at some point, reality began to set in.

After The Credits Roll

For the “winners,” their beautiful remodeled homes came with increased expenses and property values significantly out-pricing surrounding homes. Finding financial relief through a sale was challenging as buyers preferred nearby dwellings that were much cheaper. The blessing from the show became a curse in foreclosure.

The Dickinsons, beneficiaries of their own extremely made-over home, also faced the same challenges with their house. However, they consider themselves as one of the fortunate families, in spite of their recent Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.

Was A Blessing Actually A Curse?

Bill and India Dickinson claim that their home’s 2011 makeover did not play a role in their debt reorganization. Bill cites loans he took out that “robbed Peter to pay Paul.” Waiting a year to receive disability assistance following his 2013 retirement from the Marine Corps reduced the family income to one-sixth of what they once enjoyed.

Add to those woes the annual property taxes of $2,500, a jump from $750 five years prior. In addition, their utility costs more than doubled with an electric bill that ballooned to a high of $600 from a low of $200.

At the time of the Chapter 13 filing, the couple fell behind a couple months on house payments. According to court documents, they were $3,500 in arrears.

Bill getting a new job in 2014 helps stabilize their financial problems.

Producers of Extreme Makeover claim to be aware of the financial burden that comes with bigger, remodeled homes. They plan to downsize future projects that align more with the realities of the economy.

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