Hello, my name is Peg, and I am an addict. I’m a junkie. If I go a day without a fix, I start to get shaky.
I’ve got a monkey on my back, and HGTV is the organ grinder.
I love those shows that follow someone in the process of buying or renting a new home. They’ve got Property Virgins, For Rent, My First Place and the best; House Hunters and House Hunters International. HGTV should totally pick me to be on one of these programs. It doesn’t matter that I’m not currently in the market for a little getaway place in Budapest. I’ve watched so many of these shows that I’ve got the patter down cold.
Here’s the kind of stuff house hunters always say:
“Now that we’ve got little Aiden* we just need more space!”
A concerned mom holds her 14-month-old baby and explains why their current 3000 square foot home, considered presidential palace-sized in most parts of the world, has become the equivalent of living in a shoe box with the addition of a 25-pound human. The camera pans to a huge living room containing enough brightly colored plastic to indicate the place is either a daycare facility or a Toys R Us showroom.
“We have a strict budget of $400,000.”
Realtors and show hosts nod sagely in agreement at this statement. They are rigorously trained not to laugh square in the faces of the earnest homebuyers. The realtors know that, after these newbies are shown the hovels next to the town garbage dump that their budget will cover, they will beg, borrow and double-mortgage to get the $700,000 plum place that will soon be dangled in front of their eyes.
What I can’t understand is how all these 27-year-olds can afford a $400,000 first-time house? (Can we say, irresponsible lending/borrowing practices? Root cause of the collapse of the credit markets?)
“Oh my God!”
This is the go-to response, along with “Wow!” to every renovation reveal. Those strictly trained not to take the name of the Lord in vain go with the “Oh my gosh!” version. This is rarely heard on House Hunters, though. Those folks are almost universally unimpressed. I don’t know if they are instructed to find fault with every property, or if the show tends to pick people who are impossible to please.
“This place doesn’t have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.”
This verdict is uttered in tones of deepest disgust when house hunters enter the offending kitchen. They sound as if the realtor has offered them a poop sandwich.
If the kitchen is properly outfitted, “They have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances!” is squealed with self-satisfied glee.
The bottom line is, every home must have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Period. Any other design scheme will require the young couple to add $60,000+ to the budget for a studs-out remodel. Or else young Caiden* will starve.
“This bedroom is pretty small.”
Almost every room smaller than an airplane hangar gets this response. Braiden’s* room needs to accommodate the child’s media center, play stage and indoor horse-back riding ring so vital to his development.
How much room does a 25-pound human need for sleeping?
My daughters’ bedrooms are each 8’ by 10’. I kid you not. They have room for a twin bed, dresser, and a nightstand, thanks to some artful arranging, and both managed to squeeze friends in for sleepovers. The girls somehow made it to adulthood without noticeable scarring due to bedroom deprivation. Issues might arise during future therapy, though.
“This is a great space for entertaining.”
Everyone buying a house abroad is concerned about this. Who are they going to entertain? How many friends does the typical retiree from Louisville HAVE in Botswana? At the end of the show, they always show the expats sitting around their new deck with a big group of people, toasting their new life. You know these are rent-a-friends; they’re members of the local realtor’s family, brought in for the glasses-clinking wrap-up shot.
There isn’t a lot of worry about all your home friends dropping in on you, either. The cost of the airfare should keep most of the riffraff off your doorstep.
“Our lives are so stressful, we need a relaxing place to get together as a family.”
How about your backyard? I can’t understand families, especially with small children, buying a place thousands of miles away. International travel is incredibly broadening, but how often is a family of 5 going to be able to fly to their Istanbul getaway for quality time together? And you know Jayden* will expect to bring friends along. The airfare is bound to cost more than the mortgage payments on the new place.
“We just fell in love with this place.”
I haven’t been to most places on this earth, so I can’t talk about relative merits. But who in their right mind would buy a vacation place in someplace like Nicaragua? I’m sure the beaches are pristine and the people are swell, but the governments’ tendency to ignore the “I bought it, so it’s mine” concept of property ownership doesn’t make investing there look like a smart move. How safe do you think your money is? How safe do you think you are? Better check with your State Farm agent to make sure “my beach house was nationalized by the state”, and “shot by drug lords” are covered perils.
If any HGTV talent-spotters are reading this, please pick me to be on your next house-hunting show. I’m perfect for the job! I’m thinking of a luxury beachfront cottage somewhere in the south of France. All I’ll need is a loan of a couple $100,000 or so for a down payment.
*Side note: I wonder why Maiden hasn’t caught on along with its rhyming brethren as a popular kid’s name? Seems the kind of name any parent would be thrilled to have their daughter live up to.