"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is a feel-good American reality show that began airing in 2003 on ABC. Each episode involves a team of contractors, designers and landscape architects completely renovating the home of a different needy family. Although the intentions are clearly positive, some of the families that received these home makeovers found themselves in precarious situations after the cameras left.
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Foreclosures and Financial Struggles
The majority of families that appear on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" live happily in their new homes, but some have struggled with the added financial burden. Because the new home is considered a prize, the families must pay taxes on the home's added value because the Internal Revenue Service treats this increased value as income. The property tax also goes up, as do costs for utilities, insurance and general maintenance. The first foreclosure of one the show's made-over homes occurred in October 2009. Eric Hebert, who appeared on a 2006 episode, had tried to use the house as collateral for a large loan.
The Byers Family
Eight-year-old Jessica "Boey" Byers and her family received a complete overhaul of their Oregon home. Jessica, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, passed away a few months after the episode aired in 2007. Her family found itself struggling to pay the mortgage in addition to all the medical costs incurred with their late daughter's treatment. The Byers' situation worsened when they learnt their property taxes had increased significantly. Ultimately, the Byers were forced to sell the home.
The Wofford Family
In 2009, the Wofford family of Encinitas, California, could no longer afford to make mortgage payments on the made-over home presented to them in 2004. Although Brian Wofford called the home makeover "a great, great blessing," he was one of many homeowners caught up in the U.S. mortgage crisis. His mortgage was adjusted, and the father of eight could no longer keep up with the payments. In late 2009, Wofford hired an attorney to try to get the loan modified. He was eventually able to work out a permanent modification that kept the home out of foreclosure.
The Harper Family
The Harper family of Lake City, Georgia appeared on a 2005 episode. Their modest home was transformed into a 5,300-square-foot mansion. In addition, contributions from members of the community paid off the mortgage, and they also received £65,000 to put toward a college fund for their children. The Harpers subsequently used their new home as collateral on a £292,500 loan to launch a construction business. When the business failed, they were forced to default on the loan. They declared bankruptcy in 2009, which stalled foreclosure proceedings. In April 2010, a second foreclosure auction was avoided. At that time, the Harpers reportedly attempted to raffle off the massive home.
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- Yahoo TV Blog: Harsh Reality for 'Extreme Makeover' Homes in Foreclosure; Liana Maeby; April 2010;
- The Huffington Post: Family Helped By "Extreme Makeover" No Faces Foreclosure'; Julian Hattem; November 2009
- She Knows Reality TV Magazine: Extreme Makeover Home Edition: Another Home in Foreclosure; Paulene Hinds; February 2009
- "Wall Street Journal;" Extreme Stories; Dawn Wotapka; April 2010
- MSNBC: "Extreme Makeover" House Faces Foreclosure; July 2008
- CBS Moneywatch: Extreme Makeover Home Edition Foreclosure? How Do You Write a Happy Ending?; Ilyce Glink; December 2009