August 2, 2012

Words of wisdom for prospective HGTV stars

BY MARY BETH BRECKENRIDGE

I’ve been watching House Hunters off and on for, I don’t know, 40 years now. Okay, not that long. But it seems like the show’s been around forever. I never make a point of turning it on. But there I’ll be, stretched out on the couch while I surf the channels, and it will just suck me in like some cosmic vacuum.

The HGTV staple has barely changed in its 13 seasons, except that it has branched out from Southern California and now follows home hunters in the far corners of the world. Oh, and it’s dropped that moment of feigned drama when the prospective buyers answered a fake call from their realty agent telling them whether their bid had been accepted.

The show is formulaic, cheesy and often poorly acted. Still, the darn show is addictive. I remember talking early in the show’s run with a woman who worked for the production company that made House Hunters. At the time it was HGTV’s highest-rated program, and at least according to her, the producers didn’t have the slightest clue why.

Evidently a lot of people besides me get a thrill out of peeking into other people’s bathrooms. Much as I love tagging along on the house hunts, though, I can hardly watch the show without yelling at least once at the TV. As someone with plenty of experience in both hunting for and owning homes, I get irritated by the naiveté of some buyers and the lack of direction by some agents.

I watched an episode the other day in which a buyer complained repeatedly about the kitchen cabinets, which were new but — gasp! — white. I wanted to throw a shoe at the screen. Why wasn’t that agent telling her that if she could afford half a million bucks for a house, she could afford to have the cabinets refaced?

So, rather than put my flat screen at risk, I hereby offer my insights to future House Hunters participants.

  • Granite countertops do not a kitchen make. Yes, they’re lovely, but maybe you should open the drawers to make sure they don’t require the kind of force that dislocates elbows, and turn on the faucet to verify that the water flows in more than a trickle.
  • Location, location, location. It didn’t become a real-estate cliché without good reason.
  • For the love of God, price a couple of cans of paint before you reject a house over the blue in the baby’s room.
  • No, an ugly bathroom should not stop you from buying a house you otherwise love. But don’t think pulling out that iron tub won’t cost you.
  • Five bedrooms for two people? Really?
  • After a few months of two-hour commutes, you’re going to kick yourself for choosing the sparkly new Colonial on the outer reaches of exurbia over the fixer-upper 10 minutes from your job. Even if it does have hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances.

Akron Beacon Journal

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