“Extreme Makeover” Family is Losing Their House to Foreclosure!

July 30, 2008

This is unbelievable: ‘Extreme Makeover’ house faces foreclosure.

From the article:

More than 1,800 people showed up to help ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” team demolish a family’s decrepit home and replace it with a sparkling, four-bedroom mini-mansion in 2005.

Three years later, the reality TV show’s most ambitious project at the time has become the latest victim of the foreclosure crisis.

After the Harper family used the two-story home as collateral for a $450,000 loan, it’s set to go to auction on the steps of the Clayton County Courthouse Aug. 5. The couple did not return phone calls Monday, but told WSB-TV they received the loan for a construction business that failed.

Wow! They had it all and now are losing it all. According to the article, in addition to the house, which was valued at $450,000, the family received an $250,000 and college scholarships for their kids. So, if I’m understanding this correctly, this couple blew through $700,000 in 3 years.

This is why I didn’t care for “Extreme Makeover.” They gave people way more than they were capable of managing. I realize the show is called “extreme” for a reason but this just seems crazy to me. Wouldn’t it have been just as extreme to build five $90,000 homes for five families instead of one $450,000 home for one family?

They gave this family too much and they just weren’t smart enough to handle it. Sad.

I wonder how the other “Extreme Makeover” families are doing?

Thanks to AFM reader, D.B., for the link.

20 responses to “Extreme Makeover” Family is Losing Their House to Foreclosure!

  1. What about those who pitched in to help and volunteer? They are fuming mad and less than thrilled about the family’s financial mismanagement.

  2. Whether it is an ‘extreme makeover’ situation or someone who just won the lottery, I think they should be required to participate in debt/money management courses of some kind. This type of scenerio plays out too often with those who come into large sums of money or collateral that they aren’t used to having (ie – an inheritance).

    I’ve seen this personally in my extended family…things are great when the money is there, but people get foolish/selfish and, before they know it, they’ve lost it all and sometimes even more.

  3. They had nothing, got everything, now have nothing.

    It’s called “regression to the mean”

    Due to their dire financial situation, I hear they are a candidate for an Extreme Makeover episode next season, plus an appearance on Oprah, Larry Winget’s show Big Spender, and Suze Orman.

  4. I HATE that show. The producers choose who is worthy and what cause is worthwhile. And no house is going to go up unless they get sponsors to donate time and material. What gets me most is the opulence of many of the houses.

    People don’t appreciate what they don’t work for. I find fault with Habitat for Humanity, too. The sweat equity that recipients contribute is a pittance. I wonder what shape those houses are in or if the occupant borrowed against them and lost because of foreclosure.

  5. JLP —

    You wondered how other EMHE owners are doing? Well, at least a couple others aren’t faring well. This comment from my site:

    “I live in the same county as the home in Port Deposit, MD that was recently featured on Extreme Home Makeover – the father had recently died, and the mom and two teenagers have a horse riding program that helps kids with disabilities.

    In our local paper I recently saw an ad for a dinner and raffle to help the family keep the new, expanded facility afloat. I lay a large part of the blame on the show producers – if the family couldn’t afford to fix up what they already had, how are they going to support an even larger operation? It’s a nonprofit too, if I remember correctly.

    I just don’t understand what good it does people to leave them with a giant home to maintain when many of the people featured are already having problems making ends meet.”

    In addition, here’s a link to a guy who’s selling his EMHE house because he can’t afford the upkeep:


    If you think about it, it makes sense. Most of these people were barely making it (if making it at all) with a smaller house. Now they’re given a bigger home with higher utilities, higher taxes, higher maintenance, etc. Yeah, they may not have a mortgage, but their costs are higher and they’ve shown no ability in the past of managing their finances. It’s a situation destined to fail.

  6. I want to know what in the hell they took out a $450k loan on, and where that money is now. Since the story doesn’t say, I can only assume they treated their new equity as a bank account to fund a bunch of worthless purchases, not realizing that it is a loan, and that you have to pay it back. The monthly payments on a $450k loan aren’t cheap.

    I hope they rot in hell. There are far more deserving people out there, and far better ways to use that kind of money and community support than to waste it on douchebags like this.

  7. Sorry, I missed the part that said they used the loan to start a business. Either way, screw them for leveraging money they don’t have to start a business they probably aren’t even qualified to run.

  8. hmmm, I love the story. Next time I’d get ten such houses and cash out $7,000,000 and walk away:)

  9. This family did just what a lot of families did, they used their home equity like a”piggy bank”. When you do that and prices fall, you have a problem.

  10. I’ve always hated that show because they just give the family the house. It seems like the only lesson learned is that stuff can buy you happiness which is a terrible lesson. For that same reason I can’t watch Oprah when she gives all that crap to her audience. It makes me literally sick to my stomach and I have to change the channel. Most people today are so concerned about their stuff and getting more of it that I don’t want to be around them.

  11. Funny you should mention this. We had extreme makeover come to NC and tear down a gorgeous, though somewhat run-down turn-of-the century home. The house was surrounded by houses of a similar time but were maintained in a much nicer way. A bunch of the neighbors tried to fight it since it would have stuck out like a sore thumb and still does even with the modifications they made to the initial design. Anyway the story now is that, the not-for profit they run is going under and the house may not be far behind.

  12. I can’t feel bad for this family. It seems that the EMHE people realized that families were struggling to make the payments on their homes, so this family not only got the house, but they got money to cover their tax payments for years. That’s an incredible gift. I just can’t believe they used it to take out a loan.

    Sometimes, EMHE drives me crazy. It’s one thing when they help out a family by putting in things they need because a family member is sick or injured (I remember one where the mother had been shot in the line of duty and was paralyzed, so they put in all sorts of technology to allow her to get around and hopefully rehab, for example). But in a lot of cases, these families don’t need the crazy things they’re given, and it seems there are too many awful stories coming from the families.

  13. In response to a number of previous comments criticizing EMHE…

    I agree that solid financial counseling would be a nice touch for these families so that they have a better chance to manage things after getting into their new homes.

    What I don’t understand is why so many think EMHE is such a bad thing. Remember, at the core this is a business and a business exists to make money. It’s no different than any other TV show. This particular business, however, has found a way to do a good deed for down-and-out people AND make money at the same time. It’s a free market and enough people tune in for each episode to make it a very, very successful business. The fact that some of the families subsequently fail to handle things well is not an indictment of the show.

    I rarely watch TV but did catch one episode of EMHE where they did a house for a Marine who had lost a leg in Iraq, had several young kids (4 I think), and the wife had died. It was just about the most touching program I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t watch without crying. For all of EMHE’s faults, that one program was worth the risk that some of the other families may fail.

  14. ummm…figures

  15. “home is now up for auction after the Harper family put their home up for collateral in a failed construction business venture.”


    I understand now why it happened. They used the home as equity to borrow money…

  16. This family should have educated themselves about the construction business and started out small. That’s alot of money to start a business; I hope they bounce back from this mess. Why extreme makeover do not help the homeless. There are so many people homeless they can build duplexes or something.

  17. i remember reading a while ago about several Habitat families losing their houses as well, because they took out home equity loans against the value of their (free) homes.

    and doesn’t this happen to some people who win the lottery? they get a big pile of money and run through it in a few years?

    i conclude that a chunk of cash is never the answer. learning how to manage cash may be, though.

  18. I think a lot of this could have been prevented. EMHE should have restrictions on homeowners about taking equity loans on their homes, like holding the deed to the property for a pre-determined amount of time. I think the couple wanted a way for self-improvement to better themselves, but, got over their heads about running a business that cost them the home and took shelter from their family. That’s a high price to pay for any ambition.

  19. alot of u people are a perfect example of why this country is in the touble its in. U blame the source and not the means. Extreme makeover has the best intentions and put faith into the families doing the right thing.

    So its the people that get greedy thats the problem not the person that tries to help them. Most of these people get other money and benifits to help with costs. And to take off pressure in one area to turn the corner. Those oppurtunities are there these people need to take advantage.

    Dont blame the show blame the people.

  20. I agree with Mel above: “EMHE should have restrictions on homeowners about taking equity loans on their homes, like holding the deed to the property for a pre-determined amount of time”

    Before you ever get and keep any more income from any source, you must learn how to manage it. It is not hard, but requires diligence