When Kim Watts, a sales associate with Benchmark Realty in Franklin, Tenn., received an email from the producers of “First-Time Buyer” asking her to participate in the new real estate reality series, she thought it was spam. Surprised by the unusual proposition, Watts did some research to make sure she wasn’t being punked. “How in the world did they get my information, and why was I the one approached?” she says, recalling the initial inquiry.
After confirming the legitimacy of the production company, Happy Street Entertainment, she agreed to be filmed helping her nephew Theo find and purchase his first home. The main conflict in Watts’s episode—when she learns there’s a bidding war on the home Theo wants—appears on screen to be a manageable hiccup they overcome with a higher offer. But what viewers don’t know is that they could have avoided the bidding war altogether—and Theo probably could have bought the home for less money—if it weren’t for well-intentioned interference from his mother, Dawana.
When the cameras weren’t rolling, Watts got a call from the listing agent, who offered to delay her open house, scheduled for the next day, if Theo was interested in making an offer. But Dawana, nervous about the hurried pace of the transaction, implored Theo to check out a newer home to make sure he wasn’t passing up a better opportunity. “He knew he didn’t want it,” Watts says, “but he decided to appease her and take a look.”
That decision would prove costly, and put Watts in an awkward position.
The day after they looked at the home Dawana had suggested, Theo and Watts attended an open house at the property he really wanted and learned that the home had garnered multiple offers. Now he would have to spend more than he’d thought to get the home of his dreams. “I looked at my sister and said, ‘You understand [Theo’s] offer could have been less had we done it sooner,’ ” Watts recalls. “That was not comfortable.”
It’s an example of the challenges of working with loved ones, Watts says. Sometimes a client’s family members can get too involved in a transaction and take his or her eyes off the goal. “But, hey, all transactions have their challenges,” she says.
In the end, Theo submitted an offer about $5,000 above the $234,900 list price—still within his budget—and the seller accepted. To boot, the home appraised even higher than Theo’s purchase price, and he felt good that his investment was already building equity.
The entire on-camera experience felt somewhat natural to Watts, who worked as a spokesperson for the Nashville Public Television station in a prior career. “That made it easier to get used to the cameras,” she says. “Really, my greatest worry was: ‘Is this my best side?’ ”
More than anything, she sees the shoot as a sign that she was meant to help her nephew, who saved all his life for the chance to own a home. “It seemed like divine intervention that [the producers] were interested in his story,” Watts says. “I’m so thankful to be a part of his next chapter in life as a homeowner.”