House Hunters Couch Potato

house hunters

People who don’t have the expertise to operate a vehicle but like to call the shots in the car are referred to as back seat drivers. Then there are the individuals who don’t have a passport but read about international destinations, and we call them armchair travelers. And there is a new group of people who watch an endless selection of real estate shows on television and feel they are inches away from possessing a realtor’s license – I call them House Hunters couch potatoes. I think I’m one of them.

I love HGTVHome and Garden Television. It’s a cornucopia of television shows about real estate, renovation and gardening. Couch potatoes, who may be flipping through the channels on TV, consider themselves experts on bathroom plumbing and deck building. From the comfort of the living room people mull over the choice of a property by the beach or something more convenient in town.

I don’t watch all the shows on HGTV. My personal favourites are anything and everything to do with real estate. Maybe I should have been a real estate agent. Though as I think about that, I really just enjoy looking at houses for sale. I’m not too interested in the long negotiation process or contracts and legal considerations that go with the process.

Which is why I love House Hunters and the many spin-offs of this very addictive show. House Hunters basic premise is that a person or couple or family is looking for a place to live, and through the 30-minute show the person (or people) is presented with three properties to visit and consider. By the end of each episode a property is chosen and the person (or people) move in.

During each episode, the viewers learn about the house hunters – their names, ages, where they live, what they do for a living and their hobbies too. In a few short minutes this show manages to convey a person’s a whole life story! And then we get to the good stuff – we go inside houses and apartments with these people.

While I love House Hunters (and others like it such as Caribbean Life or Property Virgins), it is quite shallow and simple. For example, whenever a couple sets out on their house hunt, they usually strongly differ about where to live – in the suburbs or the city – or what kind of house to buy: she wants a two-storey colonial while he is adamant that they must live in a ranch. She won’t even consider a house that doesn’t have a fireplace. He must have a man-cave in the basement.

Few people are actually that demanding or narrow-minded when searching for a property, or at least not publicly. The show is a bit of a scripted act. The husband who said a house in the suburbs was a deal-breaker is all smiles when he tells his loving wife that he adored the sprawling home on the cul-de sac as soon as he saw it. Really? And did the real estate agent only show the couple three homes? I highly doubt it.

Then there’s the various spinoffs of this addictive show. There’s House Hunters International, Off the Grid, Renovation, Island Hunters Tiny House and now Family too. I think there’s even more that I don’t know about. House Hunters International has inspired me to be not only a couch potato but an armchair traveler too. It makes me think that I too can move my family to a beach town in Australia, find the perfect home and settle in comfortably to a new community. Oh, and of course I only have to view three homes to easily make my decision.

I’m actually amazed how clueless the house hunters are on the International edition. If you are moving to a new, often far-off country, wouldn’t you do a bit more research on the place, the culture and local real estate trends and prices before you arrive?

For example, I recently watched an episode about a family who moved to a town north of Sydney, Australia from the United States. With only the husband working they set a rental budget of $2,000 per month and wanted a house with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Within the first few minutes of the episode the local real estate agent told them it was impossible in that community to spend only that amount of money for what they wanted. How do you move halfway around the world and not do some research in advance about the cost of living? So was this couple really that ignorant, or was it scripted to make them look that way? And yes, of course they raised their budget to get the house of their dreams…

My criticisms aside, I am obsessed with House Hunters, especially the International edition. Do you ever walk down the street in your local neighbourhood or wander around a foreign city and say to yourself, I wonder what these homes look like inside? House Hunters lets you do that. No matter what home is chosen, we, as viewers, went along for the ride with them and vicariously had the opportunity to see inside the houses and apartments and make our own virtual decisions.

And now I need to feed my addiction. Off to my couch for some House Hunters.

Inundated with Requests to Sell or Renovate my Home

sell or renovate


It’s been headline news across Canada for years that real estate prices are soaring in a number of markets, most notably Vancouver and Toronto. Everything from fixer-upper tiny bungalows to remodeled three-story mansions have seen their values increase exponentially. Salaries have not increased at the same rate as real estate in cities like Toronto, where I live, which poses a frustrating challenge to both first-time buyers and people looking to move up to the next size home. With prices so out of control, real estate agents and professionals in the building and renovating industry have seen nice profits and are aggressively going after more and more business. It leaves home owners like me inundated with requests to sell or renovate my home.

I do want to state publicly that I am not looking to sell my home nor do I want to renovate it. Responsible home ownership requires regular maintenance and light renovation, but right now I’m happy with my home just the way it is. But that does not stop the daily onslaught of flyers, postcards, letters and even knocks on my door asking me if I have an interest to sell or renovate my home.

Yesterday my mailbox was stuffed with junk mail, including seven oversized postcards from local real estate agents. The cards boasted about everything from news that a charming home sold in my neighbourhood, that a “magnificent family home” was just listed or that they have the most spectacular home available for me to purchase. I particularly enjoyed the small print that asked me, “Thinking of selling? Now is the time, as the Toronto housing market remains strong,” or “NOW could be the time to list your home for sale.”

I also received a stack of pamphlets, flyers and cards full of home renovation ads. Do I have a wet basement? How about a leaky roof? Has my air conditioner seen better days? How about my tired looking backyard? It goes on and on, page after page.

Maybe I am just cranky because I really do not want to sell or renovate my home and have had enough of dumping a seemingly endless pile of junk mail into my oversized recycling bin. Everyone is trying to make a living and when the real estate market is hot there are more people in my city getting a real estate license or becoming a roofer, landscape designer or general contractor.

Now that the Government of Ontario has brought in housing reforms, will the market calm down? Just from my own observations, I see that homes in my neighbourhood that were snapped up in days are now sitting on the market much longer. But is that because the market has cooled or are there other factors such as an asking price that’s too high or a challenging location such as one or two houses in from a major street?

I do see many homes for sale in my neighbourhood right now and even more homes undergoing various levels of renovation. I know that my area is clearly ripe for the picking for real estate agents and renovation professionals. But I love my home, I love its location and I love it just the way it is. So, maybe calm down just a bit about asking me to sell or renovate my home. Thanks.