“Real Estate Intervention”: From reality check to train wreck

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Do you know the phrase if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?

Apparently HGTV isn’t familiar with that saying.

Last night, I tuned into “Real Estate Intervention,” my very favorite show on the network, and made a horrific discovery: It’s been completely decimated.

Gone was the show’s no-nonsense, honest-to-a-fault star, real estate expert Mike Aubrey, and his sweet and capable designer, Sabrina Soto. In Mike’s place was a perpetually perky home stager named Cora Sue Anthony.  The Realtor she worked with in the premiere episode definitely played second banana to her.

And that is the crux of my problem. There was nothing wrong with Mike – the Realtor – being front and center to begin with. In fact, I liked it that way.

“I’m about as soft as an 8-pound sledgehammer,” he admits in the above commercial for the show. “I don’t sugarcoat anything.”

He’s not kidding. Over the past two years, I’ve seen him break it down for numerous homeowners, telling them that the housing market is not the same one they got into five or more years ago. It’s a bitter pill for them to swallow, for sure, but there’s no glossing over the sobering facts, which can and often do include having to put additional cash up in order to sell their homes.

“I don’t always tell people what they want to hear,” Mike says. “But I do tell them what they have to hear.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And that’s just one of the things I embraced about “Real Estate Intervention.” The show accurately (and painfully) reflected reality in the U.S. real estate market. It may have taken place in the Baltimore/D.C. metro area, but it was just as relatable to me up here in New Jersey.

Sure, these homeowners were in sticky situations. Some, like the ones in the clips above, were out of work, casualties of the current economic climate. And I – as someone who lost her newspaper writing/editing gig two years ago – could relate to them. Yes, sometimes it was sad and uncomfortable to watch. Sometimes I felt bad for these people, that they were in such a pickle, that they had to listen to Mike telling them that there’s no way they’re going to make a penny on the sale of their dream home. But it was real. Some days I could relate to these homeowners’ woes and other times I was just grateful that my financial troubles weren’t as bad as theirs (in hindsight, purchasing my condo in 2000 was a brilliant decision!).

My love for the show grew even more last fall, when an episode featured a Levitt Cape Cod house in Bowie, Maryland. It was a doppelganger for my childhood Garden State home, and I got a real thrill when Mike took the homeowners on tours of two other, identical homes and I saw the renovations/upgrades that were made to them.

According to a press release from HGTV, Mike will be featured in some – but not all – of this season’s episodes (apparently serving as Cora Sue’s sidekick, not host). And a Washingtonian interview with Mike and Sabrina this spring seems to back that up, further stating that Sabrina is out of the show entirely. (Though she will keep busy with a new book and new HGTV show “High Low Project” in the works, as well as a deal with Target.)

Mike Aubrey: He calls it like he sees it./Photo credit HGTV

But with the economy still far from improved, shouldn’t we be able to rely on someone to give us a collective reality check?

I’d like that person to be Mike Aubrey, all the time. I just wish HGTV agreed with me.


  1. October 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    What happened to REI? Must say I don’t like Cora but really like the designing. Watche the credits and think Darlene and Jason should be featured with their work rather than Cora taking the credit. She is so annoying. I was hoping to see the other designs…especially in Philly.

  2. john mcleod said,

    August 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Bring back Sabrina Soto and Mike Aubrey to “Real Estate Intervention”, the new show is just baaaaaaad.

  3. Diane said,

    May 15, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Love the new designers for RE, Jason and Darlene. But can’t stand Cora. She talks as if she did the staging/designing and all the work when in fact it was all the crew with Jason and Darlene. Bring back Mike and Sabrina with new designers Jason and Darlene. What a show that would be!!!!!!!!
    Also, it drives me crazy that the show is scheduled, then not on, then shceduled for another time, then not listed…etc. No wonder the new RE can’t get in gear. But I must reiterate…keep Darlene and Jason and GET RID of Cora.

  4. Natasha said,

    March 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I loved this show too and wanted to know what happened to Mike and Sabrina

  5. March 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    […] Recent episodes of HGTV’s “Property Virgins” with new host Egypt Sherrod were filmed all over Central New Jersey last summer. This week’s episode, titled “Love at First Site,” features a newlywed couple from Staten Island who look at homes in Red Bank, Hazlet, Old Bridge, and Matawan. That episode repeats at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 19. A second Jersey-centric episode, “Character Building,” centers on a single mom looking for a home in Dunellen. That episode repeats at 6 p.m. Monday, March 19. While I miss “Property Virgins’” original host, Sandra Rinomato, I appreciate the new season’s tri-state house searches and think Egypt does a good job hosting the show. (Unlike the mess HGTV made of my other favorite series, “Real Estate Intervention.”) […]

  6. Anonymous said,

    February 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    This show is horrible now. Every thing will work out in the end, giving a false impression of what “real estate intervention” is supposed to represent. Time to cancel my Tivo season pass!

  7. Pauline Tomon said,

    July 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I agree with everyone. Will HGTV execs actually see this blog? They need to take some advice and bring back Mike Aubrey. I always looked forward to seeing him, and he is the reason I watched. And Sabrina. Now – I will not bother. One more show, down the drain.

  8. avagacser said,

    June 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I totally agree! Maybe HGTV was inundated with complaints, because I see the new episode that was supposed to be on at 9 tonight has been pulled from their schedule!

  9. avagacser said,

    June 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Wow, that’s great that the show is/was based in your area, Milton! I always find it exciting to see places I’m familiar with on TV. I totally agree that HGTV has homogenized REI to the degree that it’s like a lot of other shows. We must not be the only ones who didn’t like the new episode, because I see the second new episode – which was scheduled for 9 tonight – has been removed from their schedule.

  10. Milton said,

    June 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    The wife and I love(ed) this show. It’s in our local area so it was nice seeing areas that we know but more then that Mike Aubrey was a personality that HGTV just doesn’t have. Sure I didn’t like that the staging played a larger role in season 2 but it was still a show that HGTV didn’t have. This new version is horrible, it’s the same as every other show HGTV. More make over then real world. I can find a home makeover show on several times a day but a show that actually showed the reality of the housing market we’re in now just doesn’t exists any longer unfortunately.

  11. Anonymous said,

    June 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Just rev’d up the Tivo to watch. What a total disappointment!!

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