Some months ago, the television producer of a house-hunting program contacted me. She wanted to know if I could help pique the interest of prospects for the show. Candidates would need to be searching for their first home and live in the greater Boston area.
I can only imagine this producer contacted me because of the blockbuster weblog I maintain on Boston’s finest neighborhoods, with a vast readership that sometimes nets me a whole eleven unique hits a day (only seven of whom are from my parents, logging in from various computer terminals, but who’s counting?). So I gladly obliged the producer and posted her information to the world wide interweb.
I’m not sure if I directed any traffic her way, but I thought I would do my due diligence in familiarizing myself with the program. “House Hunters,” produced by HGTV, is not to be confused with “Hoarders,” which is also about people looking for homes, though unfortunately they are looking for the ones they already own, if under the heavy sediment of Susan Powter VHS tapes and Yellow Pages that just couldn’t be discarded.
“House Hunters,” rather, is a show in which couples seeking their perfect abode evaluate the merits of three homes in the span of thirty minutes, with a realtor who never once use the words “good bones.” It is, by all accounts, a completely accurate reflection of the home-buying process.
After a decent sampling of episodes, I surmised that the house hunters have a few things in common. First, they all have nest eggs that could hatch baby pteradactyls. They all own a lot of shoes. And they are all a bunch of liars.
The only major distinction is that the couples live in cities across the U.S. A frightening fact indeed. House Hunters are everywhere!
Take the couples who are searching for that perfect urban dwelling. They all claim they want to live in the city and be in the heart of it all. They don’t. They are fibbing. Otherwise, they would not be breaking into hives at the sound of -- gasp!-- noise! Outside! They look supplicantly at the realtor, “These ambulances! Can’t anything be done?” And heaven forbid they have to bear the view of a gas station or a rabid squirrel munching his acorn as they behold the cityscape. They wear leather yuppie shoes, but deep in their “heart of it all” hearts, they want pure, bulldozed suburbia. They want a McMansion surrounded by burned-out grass, the three car garage full of golf clubs, the driveway that could be mistaken for a Hummer dealership. But because they signed up for “House Hunters,” they choose the nifty loft that they will enjoy for a year until the moment a child is conceived and suddenly they are drafting For Sale ads: “Live in the heart of it all!”
If you watch enough “House Hunters,” you will soon become wise to the script. It is important, for example, to spontaneously invent hobbies one will take up if one owned a certain property. Of the roofdeck, “We could do all of our UFO tracking up here! Yeah!” Of the backyard, “Think of all the greyhounds we could race in this backyard!”
Another part of the “House Hunters” script must read something along the lines of, “Couple looks at closet of home built in 1854 with an about face. Wife exclaims, ‘I will never be able to fit all of my shoes in there!’ Couple shall not consider possibility that certain shoes may be discarded prior to move-in.
Couple shall make no mention of downsizing in exchange for original pocket doors, stained glass windows, and speakeasy in basement but should instead discuss, over Starbucks, if they can find a contractor who specializes in turning basement speakeasies into walk-in closets.”
By far, my favorite moment in “House Hunters” is one my friend Dorian pointed out to me. Dorian loves when the house hunters look squinty-eyed out the kitchen window, “It’s a little close to the neighbors.” Yet the house hunters are living (allegedly!) in an apartment. Dorian and I wait for the realtor to whack Muffy and Buffy over the head with his clipboard. “Stop acting like there is no indoor plumbing here. Yes, you can see the neighbor’s property. But at least you will no longer share walls with them!”
Somehow, the realtors always retain composure and usually suggest curtains for buffering that ghastly eyesore of a neighboring patio umbrella.
So, have I offered you sufficient insight into this program? Are you hooked already?
I have only once been on a home hunt; it lasted three winter months up and down the streets of Dorchester. Instead of watching the Pats on a Sunday afternoon, I was drawing an about face over colonial closet spaces in third floor condominiums. I felt depressed and nauseated throughout the entire process and spent many a night dreaming of being buried under the rubble of granite countertops. At times, I still feel a little woozy from the stress of homeownership, until I watch “House Hunters.” Then I enjoy my lazy seat in front of the tube, remote control kept within reach. A girl’s got to turn up the volume sometimes when she lives in the heart of it all.
Kendra Stanton Lee lives in Dorchester and is a frequent contributor to the Reporter.