This week, the Hooked on Houses blog posted an article about a couple who participated in the domestic House Hunters (which is produced separately from House Hunters International). It spread a bit on Facebook, and now all you have to do is Google “House Hunters” fake to see what happened next. The scandal of the century.
I’ve said it before. No one strolls though three houses in a weekend, whether in a new city or a new country, and picks one while holding hands in the park. And if HH or HHI didn’t know the new owners had already committed to a purchase, most episodes would end with the couple walking away empty handed.
But HH and HHI offer signposts for anyone thinking of moving. Where else do you see three good examples of a home in a particular region, in a certain price range. Until they start creating the homes on a Hollywood sound stage, I’m staying a loyal House Hunters viewer.
Here’s my expat tip: At least once the full name of the participants will appear on the screen. Write it down. If it seems stalkerish, bear with me.
This week I enjoyed an episode about a couple named Chad and Emily, and they were moving from a rental to a big home on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. Fine. But there’s a point in the show where they throw up a caption with their full names. The couple’s full names were Chat Walter and Emily Shoup. I searched for “Chad Walter” “St. Croix” and found their actual “Moving to St. Croix” blog, which detailed a much more accurate picture of their adventure. The details include how they scrambled to film the final HHI “14 months later…” scene, in a house they built themselves, with borrowed artwork and furniture and no certificate of occupancy. (Sometimes the reality is more interesting than the script.)
This is also how I found Gringos Abroad from Ecuador, Sharmi Albrechtsen’s Happy Danes blog, Blake and Annie’s blog on Marseille, and Matt Gibson’s blog and Twitter feed from Taiwan. HHI likes their home buyers to come in pairs, and sometimes each person could have their own travel blog, or be active on the social networks. Before long, you’ve got bookmarks, friends and follows to supply you with daily doses of world living, much of it quite candid and forthcoming. Why are so many of House Hunters‘ participants bloggers? Very often, that’s how the producers find them to begin with. That’s how they found us, although we declined to pursue stardom and fame.
So to be clear, the House Hunters franchise is entertainment. Who cares if the couple has actually lived in “House No. 3” for a year already, or never moved into any of them at all. We got to see homes, up and down, from the comfort of our armchairs. The people on the shows are real, and they offer clues like a trail of breadcrumbs in the forest.
The real victims in this are the real estate agents who have to educate potential clients about how long and arduous a process this really is. If your friend who sells real estate in Mérida looks tired, that’s probably why. Our first real estate agent in Mérida was one we first saw on HHI, and I remember spending lots of time with him, zipping through the streets in the back seat of his car, trying to suppress the HHI theme song in my head. I wondered how many people come south just to recreate the fun they saw on the show, wasting his time and gasoline. I wondered if he thought we were doing the same. If anyone should complain to HGTV, it’s him and his colleagues.
Hmmm. This wasn’t so brief after all.