Tuesday, March 16, 2010

House Hunters Hit List

Are you familiar with HGTV's House Hunters? It's a strangely addictive program wherein the viewer gets to meet the house hunter/house hunters, learn about their budget and priorities, get a glimpse of their current living situation, and get a mini lesson from their agent on what they can expect to find in their area. You tour three houses with them, listen to their pro and con lists, find out which one they chose, and check in with them a few months after move-in to see how they're enjoying (and decorating!) the place.

It's one of those shows that reinforces the "different strokes for different folks" philosophy of life. In terms of priorities sought in a house, I am usually struck by the differences between my own needs and interests and those of the house hunters. Some house hunters need a big garage to store their boat or a large shed where they can restore classic cars with one of those actual jack-up-the-car-like-in-an-autoshop-machines. Not me. Some house hunters just have to have a large bathtub with jets. I'm not saying I wouldn't test out such a tub if I had one, but a big tub is not a priority for me. Nor is a vanity where I can sit down and carefully apply my makeup. Sometimes a house hunter needs a room for scrapbooking, sewing, and/or crafting. Again, I wouldn't turn such a room down, but . . . In the episode I saw last night, the house hunters needed a large room for the wife's at-home preschool. For certain, I will never be running a preschool, in or outside of my house.

There are multiple episodes in which a male house hunter prioritizes space for a "man cave," and they always use the term "man cave" and scope out where the plasma will go. That's fine, and my hubby wants one too, but I have yet to see a female house hunter say, "I want a mom cave, you know, a room with a comfortable couch, bookshelves, a television, a wine refrigerator, and a lock on the door . . . a room that will always be tidy and and where I can hide from kids and husband for maybe ten minutes everyday." Just saying.

But I digress. It totally makes sense that each set of house hunters has unique needs and priorities, and one of the things I love about the show is seeing those plus the regional differences in style, expectations, and price. And, I won't lie, the little disagreements between house hunters can also be amusing . . . he likes modern, she likes vintage, etc.

House Hunters can highlight differences, but it also reveals amusing pockets of similarity (as seen in the above mention of the "man cave"). Here are some classic, common House Hunters moments:

* The walk-in closet scene. Realtor shows couple a house with a walk-in closet. One or two things is likely to happen from here. One, the female half of the couple jokes that the closet will accommodate all her clothes, but her other half might have to store his elsewhere. Or, two, if the closet is really large, the realtor asks, "Do you think you can fit all your clothes in here?" Usually, the reply is given as if Imelda Marcos herself is the house hunter, "I think so." Corny laughter ensues.

* Appliance scene. When touring the kitchen, the house hunters have to comment upon the appliances. If the appliances are, God forbid, white, the house hunters express that they really don't like white appliances and are pretty bummed out. This kitchen will need "a lot of work." If the appliances are, praise the Lord, stainless steel, the house hunters start drooling and caressing them as if these appliances are works of art.

* Granite countertop scene. Similar to the appliance scene. Mind you, I have nothing against granite countertops. They can be really lovely and I imagine that the house we move into will have them, but I can barely stand it when house hunters just have to have granite countertops and practically make out with them if they see them while viewing a house. I mean the kitchen counters constitute one small portion of a huge purchase, and I just don't understand how a certain type of countertop is a deal breaker. I know they're expensive, but can't you have some installed if you really, really want them that badly?

* The paint scene. House hunters check out a room in a house that is painted in a very bright or otherwise objectionable color. I have seen this played a couple of ways. Sometimes the agent says something foolish like, "I hope you like purple," as if you are not allowed to change the paint so if you don't like purple, let's walk out now. Or, the house hunters get all flustered or put off by a paint color and have to be reminded by their more reasonable agent that, "Wall color is an easy and inexpensive change to make."

* Denial of future procreation scene. The house hunters look at a small bedroom and speculate that it might make a good office (typically all small bedrooms on the show "might work for an office"). But then sometimes, one of the house hunters or even the realtor will tentatively suggest that the room might also make a good nursery "sometime down the line" and one or both of the house hunters look/s totally panicked.

* Martha Stewart fantasies. It's also typical on House Hunters for the house hunters to mention several times that they want "space for entertaining." I truly believe that they think they want this space and that they think they will use this space. I hope they do, but I've read countless articles about how Americans invite friends and family into their homes less than ever these days, how we have more spacious homes with fewer people enjoying them, state-of-the-art kitchens that never get used for preparing family dinners, etc. I like that the fantasy of entertaining is still alive and hope it becomes a reality so I get invited more places. I also want to disclose that were I featured on House Hunters, I would definitely be yapping about space for entertaining but that I do do some (non-fancy) entertaining so I feel justified.

* Grill/Barbecue scene. The same men who seek (or will someday seek) a "man cave" are also on the lookout for outdoor space for a grill/barbecue. This scene is especially common in episodes featuring a single guy or a young couple looking for a city condo.

I know I'm being a little snarky about what is a seriously entertaining, addictive, and even informative show, certainly a harmless one. I think I am feeling a little bitter toward and jealous of the house hunters I watch these days because I so badly wish I was the one ready to hunt and buy. That day will come, I'm sure, and our journey won't be on HGTV so you'll never know if I lick a stainless steel double oven if I come upon one in our hunt.

Do you watch House Hunters? What do you have to add to this post?


Stacia said...

A mom cave: that's totally on my House 2.0 list. Also, I still entertain a lot these days ... for the under-four crowd, who just doesn't seem to appreciate all the granite we've got going on.

LAP said...

I don't watch a lot, but hardwood floors and crown molding seem to be buzz words. I can also remember an episode with older homes in which the male house hunter had to duck in certain walkways, basement,etc. " well this just isn't going to work for us.". The wife seemed really proud to make that obsevation.

I like the idea of a woman cave but I fear I wouldn't get to use it much. I'd be better off prioritizing the need for a large laundry room and lots of conveniently located storage space so that everything can have an assigned home.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, House Hunters is one of my favorite shows on television. Love it and practically watch it every night. I must add that I do not like the international version because I find it frustrating. How do some people drop everything and move to these exotic pieces of property? How do some of these folks with small children afford the second home worth over a million dollars? It's probably that I just can't relate :)

If I were to move, I'd want a sunny room full of large windows and a view of the woods. I wouldn't want the large tub because I know I wouldn't use it. I'd want a large island in the kitchen "for entertaining" because I have a large family that visits fairly regularly and a dedicated serving space would be fantastic....granite countertops or not. :) And, if ever my own house hunt were featured on the show, I could hear myself carefully assessing the garage space to determine if it offered enough space for the cars and the toys.

Wishing you lots of luck with your own search and the sale of your current lovely home. Rita

Heather said...

I don't watch much reality TV, but Isabel and I have watched this together and loved it. It's fun to dream about living in a villa by the sea in Italy, or a flat in England.

Somehow I NEVER pick the right house, though. They pick the one with tiny kitchen because it has a great bathroom. Or the rundown flat because of the gorgeous courtyard...

When you ARE on the hunt, you must share your stories. Should make for some good blog fodder.

PITA said...

I enjoy House Hunters a lot. I think you have highlighted the scenes very well. I especially find it entertaining when the people allow the paint color to totally rule out a home. As though painting is just so much work.

I am with Rita in saying the detest the International version. I think it is the people are generally kind of creepy and find some of the locations they pick to be odd altogether.

NTB, but I am kind of good at picking what house they will choose.

E... said...

I will add the obligatory "this backyard would be great for our dogs" scene. Or its inverse -- "I just really wish there were more space in the yard" They never seem to mind if said yard backs up onto railroad tracks or a major highway or something.
Have you seen the blog -- can't remember its name right now -- that is basically horror stories of houses on the market. Actual pictures posted on MLS and such with cages, or chicken coops and such inside houses for sale. Hilarious.

Maggie said...

We watch a lot of HH, and you're well summarized it. We have enjoyed it because of our several moves and interest in other cities. Our Orlando realtor was on the show before we used him, and his episode appeared almost 3 years after taping. Considering the real estate bubble burst in those 3 years time, I hope that no one took the prices to heart!

ps. we just accepted an offer on a house today that contains a loft/man cave. The acceptance followed a heated debate discussing what I and our child/future children will be doing while hubby is drinking beer, relaxing, and watching Big 10 football! I think fantasy and reality are clashing in our household!!!

Sharon Byrne said...

I do enjoy the show and this post had me laughing out loud. What I am wondering is when everyday people started calling them "spaces" and not "rooms". I swear if I have to hear one more person say something like "This would make a great space for cooking" as they are standing in the middle of a kitchen.....

Sarah D said...

we're house hunting and I have been watching this show, I also like property virgins, even tho I am not one.
I usually guess wrong about which house the people will choose and I'm usually blown away about how much house a couple will buy and how much money they spend. I know sometimes they're in bigger markets w higher cost of living, but 2 20-something people in a 4 BR house for $400K really blows my mind!

All I really, really want in our next house is a pantry. The rest is negotiable.

CaraBee said...

I've watched that show from time to time. It is entertaining but I find myself getting too yenny for a new house and since that is not happening any time soon, I don't torture myself.

I agree with you about entertaining. I absolutely would more often if I had a house more conducive to it. As it is, we have people over quite a bit, but a different layout would be ever so nice.

cake said...

i don't watch the show, but i love this post.

i have never owned a home, nor have i shopped for one. but, when renting, i am always excited about a claw foot tub, or even just a deep, old fashioned enamel kind, because i hate those standard shallow plastic/fiberglass kind.

also, as a renter, carpet bums me out. as a homebuyer, it wouldn't because i would rip it out before we moved in. no matter what was under it.

and, since i do woodworking, and other arts and crafts, i love to have space for that sort of thing. i have a room in the basement that i actually refer to as "the art cave," NTB. i didn't know about the "man cave" trend. i may have to call it something else now. there is no big screen tv in there, but there is a sewing machine.

turn offs: granite counter tops, and stainless steel appliances.

Anonymous said...

I think house hunters is in a rut. They show the same things over and over. Exactly the same way. I don't really care about how small the ho use is that they are moving from. Sometimes there is a door or another part of the house and they don't show it. When they come back from commercial they show the house over again, So you see the first house three times. I think if they stopped wasting time they could show a lot more of the houses. That is what I tuned in for. It all seems so staged.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 24 year old guy that has recently finished up with college. I'm actually planning on moving to Italy or Switzerland by the time I'm 30 and this show is one of the many reasons why. Americans have such a sense of entitlement in "having a spacious home", then they later say "Well we spend most of our time outside anyways". The homes most of the these people are into on the regular HH are pretty boring really. They are always in awe of light neutral paint colors, square rooms, and open/lofty spaces.....basically characterless homes. I rented a 1911 Edwardian style home in so so condition in college that has 10x more character than the boring and bland homes they are always interested in. HH International at least has homes with character....probably because they are not Americans and know how to construct a home that is interesting and has character.

People are absolutely worthless now a days. They walk into a kitchen or room and instantly think something is unfixable or will cost a lot of money. People are limited by their own imaginations and creativity. I'm in no way construction or reno oriented, but I have helped family with such tasks before, so when I see 2 people look at a kitchen of a house that costs $40,000 less than the rest of the houses on their list, they come out and say "Well it's a make or break thing for me to have stainless steel appliances and granite". Really? You mean you would rather pay more money for the other houses with the crappy stainless steel app.....which most of them are....terribly cheap and unreliable SS app. just to catch an eye.....rather than buy the house that is 40K less and you can buy quality SS apps and put granite in, but "It's so expensive and so much work"...please. Same thing goes for paint and things like bathrooms and other kitchen things. Like I said earlier, a home will cost way less than the others but they will complain about kitchen cabinets like it's set in stone and absolutely impossible to change. There was one dumb couple that had a short sale house that was missing stuff I could fix in 2 hours with nothing BUT A SCREWDRIVER, and they were all worried about it and stayed away from the home because of the "work and cost". Makes me want to hit them. Same thing goes for the landscaping....because we all know it's impossible to hire yourself as a laborer and plant a plant into the ground to spruce the place up.

If I hear another person comment on "entertaining", I might hunt them down and kill them. Anybody else notice how they ALWAYS use that word too?....that makes it seem really staged. Nobody says party, events, or gatherings......it's always "entertain" and they need to have a space for it. Do they have a public band coming in to the house on a weekly basis or what? We all know you don't "entertain" so stop trying to pretend like you do. They then try to spruce the place up with their fake housewarming parties after they buy the house.....probably the biggest "entertainment" that will ever go on in that house.

Lastly, a couple always seeks out a house with like 4 bedrooms....aren't you married and sleep together?....so you really just enjoy throwing money away on THREE additional bedrooms that you will never use?...WTF? I just laugh because I know these idiots have their mortgages back fire in their face and they end up having their lives ruined and probably end in divorce......probably my only consolation for disliking them for their stupidity.

I can't wait to get to Italy...that's all I gotta say.

Anonymous said...

How about the people who want to live right in the middle of a large metropolitan area and then complain about the traffic noise

Anonymous said...

Typical modern Americans don't want to grow up.
Know why our dads didn't talk about their own spaces or "man caves"?

Anonymous said...

I love to watch House Hunters because I am fascinated by different designs. My big problem with it is the pretension as evidenced by the language they use. "Open concept", "property", and "space - space, space, space, space" - outdoor space, living space, etc! It's a house, folks, with a living room, and a yard. I have worked in real estate and bought houses, and NEVER heard those terms at all, much less ad nauseum! I still watch it, but I do reach my limit of pretension!

Anonymous said...

As much as I love seeing the different homes, I may have to give it all up soon. The pretension is more than I can handle, amazing what people will stoop to for their15 minutes of fame!

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