Guilty Pleasures: House Hunters

Actually, I’m not even sure I can count this as a guilty “pleasure” because an episode of House Hunters (on HGTV) usually ends up with me yelling at my TV. So”¦ more guilty, less pleasure.

House Hunters, for the uninitiated, is a home-buying show that follows an individual or couple as they search for a home. For efficiency’s sake, they only show the top three homes that the hunters in question visit, and they lay out the pros and cons of each in a voiceover that complements the discussions between the home buyers and their realtor.

Sounds simple and fun, right? Well, sometimes it is. Sometimes you watch a fun, plucky person or couple weed through the bad wallpaper and awkward layouts to find a home they love (oh, and each episode ends with a requisite awkward party with their realtor). Or, you see people who seem to find only the best things about each house and overlook the bad parts altogether. I’d say this kind of episode represents about 10 to 15 percent of House Hunters installments.

The rest are a horrifying mix of entitlement, snobbery, contradictions, and overall insanity. I think this might have something to do with the fact that reality show participants are a self-selecting group; perhaps the kind of person who is willing to have their house hunt filmed for TV tends to be more narcissistic than the general population.

So, what’s so bad about it? First, the entitlement issue. It doesn’t matter what the budget is, or what the geographical location is. Everyone seems to expect ““ nay, demand! ““ that their house be the ultimate in modern luxury. All kitchen appliances must be stainless steel, for example, and every countertop must be granite. I’m not sure why. But I do know that it must be so.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched people walk into a kitchen and say “oh, no. No no no. This kitchen has got to go. It’s so dated.”

What’s funny about the snobby idea of a house looking dated, by the way, is that if you upgrade it with all the modern bells and whistles, it too will look dated within a decade or two. That’s just how these things work. Besides, what’s so dated about non-stainless appliances? I have a ““ gasp! ““ white refrigerator and it hasn’t once occurred to me that I’ve been living in the past. I have magnets and friends’ wedding invitations stuck to the front of it. The food inside is kept cold. I move on with my life. I don’t know why everyone seems to think they deserve a gourmet kitchen.

Next are the contradictions. People frequently have a list of requirements that are in direct opposition to one another. Examples: they want to be able to walk to shops and restaurants but want a quiet street. They want to live in the suburbs but don’t want a single neighbor to be able to see any part of their yard (or, even better, they don’t want to be able to see their neighbors from any of their windows!). They want a pool but OMG THAT POOL ISN’T SAFE FOR MY TODDLER.

Oh, that’s another one, by the way. Parents who base everything about their house around their kids. Easy, now: I’m not saying that the kids’ safety and happiness isn’t important for parents choosing a new home. But a lot of times people seem to think that their children are never going to age. After all, toddlers by definition are only toddlers for a year or two. Depending upon your life plans, you could be in the home longer than that by a factor of 10. Why should you pick a home based entirely on how suitable it is for a 2-year-old?

Speaking of delusions, every house hunter seems to think that they will be entertaining friends and extended family in their home constantly. “This will be great for entertaining!” is uttered at least three times on every single episode. It’s kind of like the kids issue mentioned above; entertaining space is important to keep in mind, but I don’t see why you’d buy your house based on how easy it would be to host a big party there. Isn’t it just going to be you and your family in there about 95 percent of the time? Why not just think about what’s best for the actual residents of the house?

This is all easy for me to say, by the way, because I’m not currently house hunting. I’m sure whenever that wonderful time rolls around for me, I’ll be a demanding, nonsensical mess. But until then, I’ll continue berating strangers on my TV for their bad decisions.

Photo: Getty

11 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures: House Hunters”

  1. My husband and I like to watch this show, but we can only handle it in super small doses, because we get so angry. Usually it’s an episode with some stupid couple that has oh, just under 500,000 to spend (like that’s so little) and they are traipsing from mansion to mansion bitching because the closet has the wrong kind of shelving, or refusing a house because the second kitchen in the converted basement doesn’t have the right color marble for the bar. I’m surprised we haven’t killed our TV from throwing things at it. It’s a cool show when they show nice, normal couples who are average like us, but we’re sitting here watching this crap in our rental with the messed up septic tank, and we so don’t want to see Mr. and Mrs. John Q Rich turning down properties because they don’t like the kind of lillies planted in the “afternoon garden”.

    But yes, we watch it. *sigh*

  2. My favorite part is how, whenever they get to the master closet(s), there will be some kind of exchange to the effect of
    Wife: (approvingly) I should be able to fit my stuff in here!
    Husband: And my stuff?
    Wife: Hmm, we’ll see!
    Everyone laughs! She has so much stuff! Sorry, hubs, get used to getting dressed in the guest room!

    Also, they LOVE double sinks on this show.

  3. The thing that always gets me about House Hunters is that the buyers will outline their list of concerns and their budget, and they’ll inevitably be shown one place that hits everything they want, and they almost always pass it over in favor of a larger, more expensive (and more square footage) place.

    I’m watching the International version right now!

  4. I think a lot of times people pick their houses based on lives they wished they led. Like the “oh this will be great for entertaining!” people. Chances are, you *wish* you were the type of person who entertains, but in reality your the type of person who watches tv in your jammies and eats pizza every weekend. Maybe this isn’t true across the board, but I wouldn’t choose a home for its resemblence to a social hall, even if I wanted to be the type of person who entertains.

  5. Oh my God, yes. This show drives me bonkers. The people are generally unreasonable.I don’t “get” stainless steel appliances! You can’t put magnets on them! FINGERPRINTS! No thank you.

    What also bugs me is that the people on the show are almost universally white, heterosexual, always able bodied, and moving to the suburbs. There are a few exceptions here and there, but if you want any diversity Property Virgins or My First House are better.

    1. I disagree on the diversity issue. I can think of any number of episodes of House Hunters that show homosexual couples, POC, singletons, families, etc buying homes. There was a recent article out that talked explicitly about how the house hunting shows and HGTV in particular have become very inclusive of the gay community, which they did on purpose.

      I have not seen too many episodes where the people buying the property had disabilities, but I can think of at least one where one of the children was in a wheelchair and needed special accommodations in the house, and several mixed generation house hunters where the ease of living for elderly relatives was a major concern.

      I’m with you on the stainless steel though. That and the granite thing really get my guff.

      1. Oh, hey, my bad then. Maybe I’ve just caught the wrong episodes, but I’ll for sure keep my eyes open.

        I’ve found My First House to be great at including homebuyers with disabilities. There are two episodes that stand out, one which had a blind homebuyer and another one that had a homebuyer that was paraplegic.

    2. I didn’t know you couldn’t put magnets on stainless steel appliances. I too have wondered about the fingerprints problem, but what amazes me is that they look like part of an industrial kitchen. And then there are only two people moving in, how much food could they possibly consume to justify a mega-fridge that looks nice? I remember the late 90s when I started really noticing stuff about real estate, and black appliances were all the rage then. Now of course they look “dated!” Give it five more and people will say “Stainless steel appliances! OMG Gut it!”

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