Designed To Sell This House Virgins International…Pick Me!

I've found the beachfront cottage of my dreams!

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.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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51 Responses to Designed To Sell This House Virgins International…Pick Me!

  1. And my wife wonders why I call it House Porn?

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  2. bigsheepcommunications says:

    I’m a hardcore HGTV addict too. To date, my favorite episode of House Hunters International has to be a young woman (20’s?) who makes her living as a choreographer in a busy city in Bali (or was it Fiji?) and wanted a retreat/dance studio in a more peaceful part of Bali (Fiji?). She had a strict half a million dollar budget, but mom and dad came through in the end to help her buy the $525,000 place on the beach. Seriously??

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I saw that one! You’ve got to think that most of those 20-somethings have daddy with a checkbook in the background. Now I feel like a failure as a parent because I didn’t cough up the $500,000 for my daughter to realize her dreams in a meditative retreat somewhere in Fiji/Bali.

      Like

  3. egills says:

    I had so much to say in response to this until I saw Chrismckillops comment…. he summed it up in two words.
    Grand Designs is one I love, although I scream at the tv in frustration ( normally when some idiot thinks planning permission for a historical monument will only take a few weeks…. NO you numpty more like 6 months! ).

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  4. I love those house hunting shows and Grand Designs.
    What I like most is looking inside other people’s houses, I’ve always been a bit nosey. I do however help the contestants out by shouting at my screen and telling them ‘ not that one ..it’s awful’
    My favourite is Location Location with Phil and Kirsty. Not only houses to see but good laugh as well

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    • pegoleg says:

      I’m with you, Miss P. It’s legalized snooping inside other people’s lives. I also like to give decorating advice to the screen, but they never listen.

      You know what would make a great show, is one showing webcam reactions of viewers to TV shows.

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  5. Big Al says:

    Someday you will see me in one of those mansions. So far, I’ve saved up enough for the down payment on the white picket fence.

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  6. Oh, I love House Hunters International! The stress these people are under, what with all the choices. It really moves me. Back when we bought our first house, I was pregnant with CaidbraidMaiden. Our main requirement? It had to have, at the very least, four walls. Preferably, a roof and definitely a working toilet.

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  7. Tori Nelson says:

    Hahaha and THANK YOU! I always feel pretty awful and poor when I watch those shows and a 22-year-old has a half-million dollar budget and another 20 grand for a down payment. Also? I’m down for using Maiden in a kid’s name. I think Iron Maiden Nelson has a nice ring to it 🙂

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  8. I admit to be an HGTV junkie as well. Like any other addition, I didn’t realize the extent of my dependence on it’s mindset until my “almond” refrigerator died last summer and I found myself in the appliance department at Sears apologizing to the salesman for wanting a “white” refrigerator – how trashy! I also was held back from saying “sold” by the fear that should I desire to sell my house, especially in a tough real estate market, that my house would spend YEARS on the market consistently passed over because my kitchen did not have stainless steel appliances (which I find visually cold) and granite counters. Alas, I guess I’m stuck in this wretched class-less property with a (audible gasp!) white refrigerator that brightens my kitchen and keeps my food cold… my standards are so-o-o-o low… (head bowed in shame!!

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    • pegoleg says:

      Peg approaches Carol at a solemn march, while a lone drummer plays that guy-on-the-way-to-the-firing-squad drumroll. Peg removes one white glove (white cotton duck – so shabby-chic, and washable) and slaps Carol lightly across both cheeks. She rips the Order of the Valance ribbon from Carol’s chest, along with the Medal of Remodeling Valor, throws both to the ground and grinds them in the dust under her Manolo Blahniks. Candace Olsen sobs quietly in the background.

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      • Tar-Buns says:

        That’s quite the response, Peg. Especially like the blahnik shoes and Candace Olsen sobbing in the background. I want HER to come fix my house…that’s assuming they pay for all the beautiful stuff she does. Have to remember to play the lottery…

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        • pegoleg says:

          Me too, Tar. I absolutely LOVE her style. I’ve floated around the HGTV website before trying to find some show I could be on to get my house and gardens redone for free, but no such luck. Almost all of them have to be in California. It’s geographic discrimination, I tell ya!

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  9. etomczyk says:

    I am cracking up at your summation of HGTV. Your writing is absolutely wonderful. I must admit I’m a little guilty lusting after this “house porn,” because I’m 63 and yet to have my dream house (whatever that is). I know it should involve an ocean, lots of windows, and a weekly maid service, but I’m not sure what else. I’ve been waiting to hit the lottery that I don’t play so that I can buy that “upgrade” or “second home.” Until that happens, I’ll continue to put up with my old house — the one where the master bathroom used to be a closet and is so small that if my husband and I are in it together and bend over at the same time, one of us gets knocked through the door onto the bedroom floor. Good times.
    http://www.howthehelldidienduphere.wordpress.com

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Hey, you’ve got the next big HGTV show – Booty Bump Remodeling. You sweep into tiny, cramped homes and turn them into multi-windowed mansions with an ocean view (all of under $1,000). Get going! (and thanks for stopping by.)

      Like

  10. notquiteold says:

    In the future, Bailey, Hailley, Cayley, and Fail-ey will decide where to live by shaking their gold-plated (but environmentally friendly) rattle.
    Oh… and we have friends with a dog named Graydon.

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  11. HGTV is scary addicting…
    if I’m near it, a ‘quick 5 second peak’ will turn into a 5 hour at-what-point-did-I-start-drooling-on myself-fest. Oh no! My designer carpet (it’s club soda for drool… right?)!
    🙂

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  12. Janet says:

    Love those shows, can’t stand those stainless steel appliances! They look great, but I’m the only maid at my house, and I do not plan to spend hours shining those wretched surfaces for the cameras, video or still! Granite is pretty, but I’m afraid I’ll be breaking fragile things with every less-than-delicate landing. I guess that rules me out for looking for a break-the-budget second home. And I thought these were reality shows – 3 or 4 or 6 months later, and no magnets or photos or calendars or appointment cards on the fridge??? Alternate reality, more like!

    Peg, I love your stuff!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      OK, I guess it’s time to come clean and admit that I have a stainless steel fridge, stove and sink. But the sink and stove are both over 23 years old and I got them because they were cheaper than porcelain – isn’t that a hoot? As for the fridge, check out my post “Let Them Eat Cake” from June 2011 for the story of how I got that.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words!

      Like

  13. MKC says:

    Great post and I LOVED your reply to Carol R. Crayley! I really miss the shows where they take your junk and make it look great without spending much or remodel to sell for under $2000.

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    • pegoleg says:

      I know – Designed to Sell is my absolutely favorite show, but I can never find it on anymore. I think they only run reruns of those during the day, sigh. You could have your very own show, “Designed for My Family To Descend on Me All The Time Like I Was The Friggin’ Holiday Inn”. Do you have our reservations for next weekend?

      Like

  14. Harper Faulkner says:

    The Versatile Blogger Award — I’ve nominated you!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Well thank you so much – aren’t you a flatterer! I must admit to a strict policy of not actually responding to awards, because I am much too lazy. But I really appreciate the sentiment, just the same.

      Like

  15. Too funny! I’ve heard all those things and thought the same kinds of things you articulated so brilliantly. I’ve stopped watching these shows because I can’t take it anymore. I’m burned out watching people not settle for places I could never afford!

    Excellent post!

    Like

  16. Love this. I have friends who are going to be on one of these shows soon. And yes, one of them was told to “go negative.” So some of it is staged or set up. But I love looking at houses. I live in an apartment and I’d love to buy a place but my budget is strictly $850 a month. TOTAL. If we throw in property tax, I’ll go $950 and eat spaghetti half the time. Where I am, that gets me nowhere good. But still, every so often I see a house for sale that I like and I check the listings and get sucked in to the vortex. I refuse to over-finance, so I’m priced out of the market. But a girl can hold a remote and dream…

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Oh wow! Be sure to post when your friends are on so I can live vicariously through them. Great way to think of this whole thing – all you need is your remote and a dream.

      Like

  17. Hilarious! I see the same thing happening with the Baby Market. Buying for a new baby is very similar to buying for a new place to live. All these phrases come out of your mouth, that you’ve heard other people say, and they can carry you right over the edge like a runaway train.

    I think whenever you know something is going to cost a lot of money, part of your mind will shut down to the idea, hence all the ramblings.

    When my husband and I were pregnant with our first child, we registered for gifts at Babies R Us. All our friends had done it. Our older cousins had done it. So we did too. Only, it just didn’t make sense. The person behind the counter at the Registry department inside the store gave us a big purple folder and a sheet with items in tiny font, subdivided by category and type. We were told the list matched the store’s layout, so it would be “easy” for us to go through the entire building and not miss anything “essential.”

    About ten minutes into this adventure, I collapsed my pregnant body to the floor and my husband wiped his forehead, exclaiming, “Are we registering, or taking a store inventory?” 🙂

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      My niece and her husband live in a tiny, tiny Manhattan apartment. The stroller/car seat/bathtub/sports car they registered for was, by itself, enough to take up half the living room. It’s astounding what babies need, isn’t it? Or not…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  18. Amy says:

    We bought our first house because it had a fenced-in back yard and hardwood floors. Those were the only details I cared about. It was 1,100 square feet, didn’t have a right angle in the whole place and the closets were tiny, but I loved it. Hindsight being what it is, I never would have moved.
    I’ve probably only seen a couple hours of HGTV in my life (more of a Discovery or TLC gal, myself), but what I saw fit your descriptions exactly.
    “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.” Lord, yes!! Why is this?? Like, why do you suddenly need a car at seats seven adults when you only have one small child?

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Remember when TLC was actually about learning? But they do still have some good shows. A&E was my favorite channel, back when they were in to arts and entertainment. Seems most every channel is trashy reality shows as far as the eye can see now. At least with HGTV, the only trashy stuff they show are “before” shots of houses.

      Like

  19. Barb says:

    Now I yell stainless steel curses, “Don’t touch the fridge. I just oiled it.”
    When kids lived at home, my fridge had a fingerprint proof front. Strange how we change.

    Like

  20. Rai says:

    Hahahaha!
    My mom has a friend like this, and she likes to take my mom with her when she looks at houses (which is like, once every 5 years) because my mom isn’t like that =P

    Her: OMG, this is a FABULOUS party house!
    My mom: Dude, you have parties 4 days a year. You have to LIVE in it all the other days. Get real.

    Like

  21. sukanya says:

    LOL! i am House Hunters junkie too, always mopey and jealous that I dont have the kinda of money these buyers have. i am always curious to know what they do for a living… but sadly never find out.
    btw, thanks for picking up for Bollywood (not Baliwood) and the movies it churns out. what general population here gets to see is the regular mainstream stuff but there are millions of independent movies that are so darn good. i wish theyd market those than the fluffy song and dance crap. speaking of song and dance, all is not bad either, some really get you going with their upbeat tunes! and no one can dance like a bollywood actor. you have to know how to dance to act in our movies.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m with you – I always wonder what they do for a living to afford such high style living.

      I’ve seen a couple of great Indian movies, and some of them had no dancing at all! But you’re right – the music is very upbeat and entertaining.

      Like

  22. Marina says:

    Oh man, would you get a kick out of the House Hunters drinking game! I came up with it with my best friend Amie a few years ago and it’s dangerous if you have a few episodes queued up on the DVR… http://realtybites.estately.com/house-hunters-drinking-game/

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Wow – that’s hysterical! I’m going to get together a bunch of my new closest friends to sit around on my new deck and play (so glad I went with the space to entertain.)

      Like

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