In the 1990s, every other TV programme seemed to be a property show. This was because the demand for home improvement programmes such as Changing Rooms, Ground Force and DIY SOS was incredibly high, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch them every week. However, by the early 2000s, viewing figures had dropped, and many interior design shows were axed.
Now, though, these types of shows are growing in popularity again — and viewers have even more choice. Back then, there were only five terrestrial channels. Today there are dozens of property shows broadcast across 70 free-to-air standard channels, and many more when you include satellite channels and streaming services like Netflix and Now TV. Last year, Changing Rooms made a comeback with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen replacing Carole Smilie as the presenter, while property shows like DIY SOS and Grand Designs never went away.
Whether you’re thinking about selling your current home and want some insight into what the property market is like, you’re redecorating or renovating your house and are looking for inspiration, or you’re thinking about relocating to sunnier climes, chances are there’s a property show that can provide the answers to your questions.
Must-watch property TV shows
The property shows included in this list span various formats, from architecture and renovations to buying property to home improvements. Continue reading to find out more about these must-watch shows.
1. Location, Location, Location
This property programme first aired in 2000, and it has been a staple of British TV ever since.
The show’s name is based on the real estate cliche that the three most important factors in determining how desirable a property is are “location, location, location”.
Location, Location, Location follows house-hunters as the presenters try to find them their dream home in the perfect location. Each episode lasts for 60 minutes and features a different set of buyers. The programme has various themes, including first-time buyers, seasonal trends and luxury properties.
A unique aspect of the show is the chemistry between the two presenters, Phil Spencer and Kirsty Allsop. Their playful banter adds humour to the house-buying process, which is often associated with stress.
Following the success of the TV show, a spin-off called Relocation, Relocation was released in 2003. With the same format as Location, Location, Location, it featured homebuyers who were looking to buy a property in a rural location, as well as one in an urban location. However, this show was cancelled in 2011 as people were struggling to buy one property, let alone two.
How to watch: All 4, Sky Go, Pluto TV
2. Selling Sunset
This Los Angeles-based show premiered on Netflix in 2019 and is currently in its sixth season. In 2021, the programme received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for ‘Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program’.
A property-reality-show hybrid, it revolves around the Oppenheim Group — a high-end real estate brokerage with offices in LA, West Hollywood and Newport Beach.
The show follows the professional and personal lives of brothers Brett and Jason Oppenheim and their glamorous employees while giving viewers a peek into the lives of the rich and famous. Listings range from a couple of million dollars to a whopping $75 million, and most come with luxuries like swimming pools, gyms, wine cellars, home cinemas and spectacular views.
Selling Sunset has two spin-offs. One is Selling Tampa, which is based in Florida and premiered in 2021, and the other is Selling the OC, which is based in Newport Beach and premiered in 2022.
How to watch: Netflix
3. Escape to the Chateau
In 2015, ex-British Army Lieutenant Colonel Dick Strawbridge approached Channel 4 to ask whether they’d be interested in filming him and his partner renovating a derelict chateau in the northwest of France. The result was a nine-season property show called Escape to the Chateau.
Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree may not be your stereotypical power couple, but with their combined skills and passion for bringing back to life a building which hadn’t been lived in for 40 years, they are an inspirational force to be reckoned with.
The first season sees them restoring the 45-room chateau back to its former glory, installing heating, running water and electricity, while raising two young children and starting an events business.
In subsequent seasons, viewers can watch them continue with their renovations and maintenance of the property and follow the success of their events business as it grows. The programme ended after the ninth season, with the final episode airing in December 2022.
The show’s popularity can be largely attributed to the affordability of French chateaux. In 2015, Dick and Angel bought the 19th-century Chateau de la Motte-Husson for just £280,000.
On 9th April 2018, the first episode of the show’s spin-off series aired. Escape to the Chateau DIY features other ex-pat families who seek help from Dick and Angel as they attempt to run businesses in run-down chateaux of their own.
How to watch: All 4, ITVX, Amazon Prime
4. Grand Designs
Grand Designs is one of the longest-standing property shows on British television. It’s been presented by Kevin McCloud since the first episode was aired in April 1999, and there have been more than 200 episodes since.
The programme — which is currently in its twenty-third season — features ambitious people who are attempting their own unusual homebuilding projects. Some of the most elaborate designs include a glass house on top of a cliff, a swamp-turned-biodiverse-natural-swimming-pond and a house built into a hillside.
Each episode begins with a site visit and a discussion of the plans, along with a computer visualisation. McCloud then makes periodical site visits to follow the progress of the build, with a final visit once the occupants have moved in. The episode ends with a tour of the house and a summary of the project’s success.
Overspending and missing deadlines are common problems, and though this frustrates homebuilders, it provides much entertainment to viewers.
The success of Grand Designs is demonstrated by its multiple spin-off shows:
- Kevin’s Grand Design
- Grand Designs Abroad
- Grand Designs Australia
- Grand Designs Indoors
- Grand Designs Live and Grand Designs Live: Today
- Grand Designs New Zealand
- Grand Designs Revisited
- Grand Designs: RIBA House of the Year
- Grand Designs Sweden 2020
- Grand Designs: The Street
- Grand Designs Trade Secrets
How to watch: All 4, ITVX, Amazon Prime, Apple TV
5. Sun, Sea and Selling Houses
Since its season premiere in 2017, there have been a further four seasons of this property show, with the fifth airing in early 2022.
The programme follows ex-pat real estate agent families who sell properties in Southern Spain and the Costa Blanca. Each episode tells the story of a family, a couple or a single person looking to buy a full-time home, holiday home or retirement property in Spain.
The show features various types of properties, including apartments, villas and townhouses, to suit all budgets.
If you are considering binge-watching this funny, sunny docu-soap, you’re in luck. Currently, there are almost 90 episodes available to stream.
How to watch: All 4
6. George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces
Currently, in its eleventh series, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces was first broadcast in 2012.
In this show, architect George Clarke travels around the UK, exploring unique and creative builds. Every episode incorporates ingenious design, with an emphasis on the creative use of small spaces. Some of these include beach huts, boat houses, camper vans and even fire engine conversions.
The programme was nominated for a Best Feature BAFTA in 2015, and it’s got a spin-off, Shed of the Year, which ran from 2014 to 2017.
How to watch: All 4, Sky Go, Apple TV
7. A Place in the Sun
Another long-standing property show, the first episode of A Place in the Sun, was aired in 2000, and it is currently in its 19th season.
The premise of the programme is to find buyers their perfect property in a sunny foreign location, often in Spain, France or Portugal. In recent years, episodes have also been filmed in locations like Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Croatia, Florida, Romania, Slovenia and South Africa.
A typical episode will involve the presenter showing buyers three to five properties within their budget and giving useful information regarding the location’s real estate markets, property maintenance and the local area. At the end of the episode, the buyers will be given the option to put in an offer for their favourite property.
As well as a magazine and two live exhibitions per year in London and Birmingham, A Place in the Sun has had multiple spin-offs, including:
- A Place in France
- A Place in Greece
- A Place in Greece: Year 2
- A Place in Slovakia
- A Place in Spain
- A Place in Spain: Year 2
- A Place in Spain: Costa Chaos
- Chaos at the Chateau
How to watch: All 4
8. DIY SOS
The only property makeover show to feature on our list, DIY SOS has been broadcast on British television since 1999, making it the longest-running show of its format. In 2010, the show’s name was changed to DIY SOS The Big Build, with Nick Knowles remaining as sole presenter. Currently, there are 242 episodes of the property show, over 32 series.
The format of the programme is to help people whose DIY projects have gone wrong, with viewers having the opportunity to call in and vote for the project they want to be featured in the next episode. Knowles enlists the help of friends, family and local tradespeople to renovate the section of the home that hasn’t been finished because something’s gone wrong.
In 2003, DIY SOS’s sister show, Garden SOS, was released as a gardening alternative, however, it only lasted for one series.
How to watch: BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, UKTV Play
9. Escape to the Country
Now in its 23rd season, Escape to the Country was first broadcast back in 2002.
This property show helps buyers who want to escape city life and find their dream home in the countryside.
In each episode, viewers learn a buyer’s reasons for wanting to relocate to a rural area and are then shown three properties (including a “mystery property”) which meet the buyer’s criteria and are within their budget. After each viewing, the presenter asks the buyer to guess the asking price of each property before they reveal it.
Information is given about the local area, with both the presenter and buyer undertaking a local activity, such as sailing, gardening or cheese-making.
At the end of the episode, the buyer will have the option to make an offer on one of the properties they’ve seen.
Escape to the Country is also broadcast in the US, Australia, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands, and there’s an Australian version called Escape from the City too.
Spin-offs include I Escaped to the Country, which revisits buyers who appeared on the original series, Escape to the Continent, which was filmed abroad, Escape to the Perfect Town, which was filmed in urban locations and Greatest Escapes to the Country, which showed highlights from the original series.
How to watch: BBC iPlayer, Pluto TV, Hulu Live
Whether you’re thinking about selling your current home, redecorating or renovating your house or relocating to sunnier climes, there are plenty of property shows you can watch for information and inspiration.