Beaufort News

HGTV to check out Hilton Head renovations

Some vacation rental homes on Hilton Head Island might not look like much on the outside, but they've got it where it counts -- on the inside -- Realtor Karen Ryan says.

"It could say 'built in 1970' on the outside of the home, but when you walk into the home it's a height of luxury," said Ryan, of Weichert Realtors Coastal Properties. "It makes Hilton Head look tired, when, in fact, we have a lot of renovated, modernized homes."

Ryan and other island Realtors rejoiced when Home & Garden Television announced last week it was bringing its show "Bang for Your Buck" to the island.

"HGTV is so widely watched right now, and the exposure for our beach properties will be tremendous," Ryan said. "We have beautiful, beach-oriented homes that, unfortunately, not many people may be aware of."

The show, in its eighth season, recently revamped its format and is looking for "fun and energetic" homeowners in the Hilton Head area who recently renovated their vacation rental homes.

"Each episode has a theme, and we were looking at areas that would be great for vacation rentals," casting producer Danielle Johnson said. "Hilton Head is known for having some of the best beaches in the country and for having amazing golf courses and is known as an area that has a lot to offer for vacation rentals."

Each episode will tour three similar renovations at similar price points in the same city, according to an HGTV news release. HGTV's Vern Yip and a yet-to-be-named local real estate expert will determine how the renovations impact each home's value.

The renovation deemed the biggest bang for its buck will yield an undisclosed "generous grand prize."

"In previous seasons, we didn't have a grand prize. We also now have a host who is creating a larger emphasis on the design element of the space as opposed to just the return on investment," Johnson said. "That makes it much more of a competition show."

"We're looking for something really dynamic. We're looking at design choices and real estate return on investment, which is why we look for a local Realtor who understands the area and what buyers and renters are looking for," Johnson added. "It's not about how little you can spend but how well you used the dollars you did spend, whether it's $20,000 or $120,000."

Ryan said she hopes the show will encourage more owners to renovate their vacation rentals by providing concrete answers on remodeling value and how to get the most out of any renovation budget.

"Hilton Head is a mature market. There aren't a lot of new properties being built," said Bill Haley, vice president of marketing for Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island. "That means there are a lot of older homes out there in need of renovation, particularly those in the rental market. They become less desirable, revenue starts falling off and guests are unhappy. That puts the owner in a position of deciding either to sell or reinvest in the property."

Homebuyers have scooped up foreclosed properties on the island on the cheap in the past two to three years, making renovations that have helped the rental market, Haley said. But the island's image could use the boost from HGTV.

Ryan agreed.

"Perception is everything. It's important for island vacation home rentals to look modernized, clean and inviting," she said.

Filming is to begin the first week of November, Johnson said. She hopes to finish casting by Oct. 7.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

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