The back story: In September 2017, Bill Klein and Jen Arnold, stars of the long-running TLC reality show, had put their five-bedroom, six-bath Houston mansion on the market, since they’d moved to St. Petersburg, FL, so that Dr. Arnold could start a new gig at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
At that point, they had high hopes on the price, set at $1,225,000.
So why did the “Little Couple” home sale fall so short of expectations?
‘Little Couple’ house: What went wrong
For starters, in case you’re wondering if the home sat on the market because it was configured specifically for little people, rest assured, it had been renovated for people of standard height before hitting the market. This probably cost the couple a pretty penny—and may have tempted them to make the cardinal mistake of overpricing their home in an attempt to recoup those costs.
“It was smart to redo the home for ‘normal’-size people, but you can’t expect a buyer to pay for all of your work,” says Kathryn Bishop, a real estate agent at Keller Williams in Studio City, CA. “That’s probably what the sellers wanted.”
Not only was this home priced too high, but things went from bad to worse once the area was hit by Hurricane Harvey. Even though the house wasn’t damaged in the storm, many others nearby were, and this had ripple effects on the whole market.
“This seemed like the bad combination of an overpriced home on the market and a major hurricane converging at the same time,” says Florida real estate agent Cara Ameer. “Once a major storm hits an area, it can put the brakes on people’s interest and ability to buy. Some pending home sales likely stalled or fell apart, thus causing a domino effect in the real estate pipeline.”
Hurricane and pricing issues aside, the house itself had problems, too. For example, the swimming pool, while gorgeous, is an amenity many home buyers just don’t want because of its safety and maintenance issues. Plus the placement may have given buyers pause.
“I had a place where the owners had a pool in the center of the home, like this one,” says Bruce Ailion, a real estate agent and attorney in Atlanta. “It took forever to sell and also had multiple price drops. The pool was surrounded by the home walls, so the sun only fell on the pool and patio for a short period of time. So water would stay on the patio longer and algae and mold would grow.”
The ‘Little Couple’ real estate take-home lesson?
If the “Little Couple” stars have learned anything from their home-selling struggles in Houston, it’s that you should never assume that star power alone can be enough to ratchet up a home’s price.
“For a home like this, with a celebrity factor that was totally move-in ready, pricing on the higher side probably seemed like the right thing to do at the time they put it on the market,” concludes Ameer. “However, given the proximity to storms and such, you always have to think about pricing relative to the reality of that situation.”
In fact, as it happened, the “Little Couple” stars’ new home in St. Petersburg was situated right in the path of Hurricane Irma, which forced them to evacuate their new home shortly after moving in. It prompted Arnold to joke, “It’s getting a little weird about hurricanes following me. My family calls me a hurricane magnet.”
That may not be great for real estate, but maybe it could set the stage for a nail-biting new season of their TLC show.