New Crack: Condo Porn via House Hunters International

Due to our often conflicting schedules, when Justin and I spend time together it has become more often than not in front of the teevee. Lately, this has more to do with the fact that I often don’t get home until late or he is often working late, so planning for things outside the home tends to get a bit chaotic. Despite the copious amount of time we spend on the couch, what we watch tends to be an agreed upon listing of “together” teevee as opposed to whatever is available on the DVR. Our tastes in television and movies is more often than not, polar opposites: He likes depressing, post-apocalyptic, foreign, pretentious materials. In movies, if it has Nazis, an unhappy ending or some kind of mutilation/violence aspect to it, he loves it. I, on the other hand, tend to go for a bit lighter fare such as period dramas, indie films, or something with a twist.

Television is much the same way in that he loves sports (primarily football and basketball), the Hitler channel, Jeopardy! (You’d think I was marrying a 70 year old.) or something along the lines of the aforementioned topics. Personally, I am a sucker for series (In Justin’s opinion, read: crappy) television, stocking up on guilty pleasures such as Gossip Girls 1, Grey’s Anatomy or The Big Bang Theory to name a few.

But with the weather getting colder and our ability to go outside becoming less of a reality these days, we’ve started watching series shows on premium channels (Nurse Jackie, Dexter, The Tudors, and Bored To Death), but the problem with these shows is that the series’ are much shorter than network television and we have gotten into the habit of watching the entire series within a week or two, catching up on back episodes and having marathons. Thus, we are back at square one with nothing to watch.

A few weeks ago, friends of ours tipped us off to a HGTV show called House Hunters International. The point of the show is that a person/couple/families/whatever are looking to buy in X locale for Y reason, and they need help to find their home/condo/apartment/flat/beach front mansion with Z budget. A local to the area real estate agent takes the wish list and presents the person/couple/family/whatever with a listing of properties that match their requests. The person/couple/family/whatever then select from the top three choices as their next crib.

The show format never varies, thus it is always consistent from episode to episode: Intro to the house hunters, their background, their budget, where they are moving to and why. The viewer is then shown clips of the house hunter going through three properties, their likes/dislikes of the properties and the “finale” of their selection of one of those three properties and why the chose said property. In short, it is the same formula on every show regardless of who/what or where the show is being taped. There is also very little surprise as to what the house hunter chooses in that based upon their wishlist, location and budget, 90% of the time we correctly guesstimate which property they end up choosing and it is almost always property #2.

At first glance, this show doesn’t sound like something that would interest me in the slightest. I don’t consider myself a domestic goddess, my panties don’t get wet at the thought of a new vacuum (I was pelted by a vacuum ad on HGTV’s website that bothered the piss out of me and wouldn’t let me read the site until the ad did its thing. Usability fail.), nor do I get passionate when discussing herringbone versus parquet floors. These things, however, excite Justin. He spends hours every week not only cruising real estate sites for the search for our perfect home but he also has a surprisingly aesthetic appeal to what he likes and doesn’t like.

We’ve spent dozens of hours pouring over real estate ads for condos in a variety of markets around the US and we’ve picked apart every nuance from the floors, to the window treatments and bathrooms. What does interested me about HHI is that it appeals to my wanderlust in the hopes that someday in the future (hopefully nearer than farther), we might be able to move and live abroad. I see HHI as research then, to get an idea of what the markets are like around the globe and what our budget (roughly about $400K USD) would get us in other countries.

In Paris, that would barely buy us a pied-à-terre while in Fuji, that’s beach front mansion and even better, in Buenos Aires, that would give us a nice sized condo in a great location. What also interests me about the show is that I’m nosy and I want to know what people do for a living to make the kind of money they make — especially the ones who talk about buying a home on the Amalfi Coast and their budget is $750K USD but hey, the villa they really want is $1M USD, so they buy that one even though it’s over their “budget.” Then there are the people who are buying second or third homes — and I wonder, what the hell do they do to juggle all those mortgages and they seemingly always have some generic job such as “marketing manager” or “mid-level manager.”

What kills us though is the over expectations these people have. “I want a 2 bed, 2 bath, 1000 sqft condo in Paris for $400k USD, with a ‘view,’ American kitchen, and a bathtub. And oh! I have to have the outdoor living space!” When shown that for $400k gets them a 5 story walk-up in one of the outer districts, at 600 sqft and the bathtub is a little bigger than the sink, they get all indigent. Specifically when for that range, the properties are fixer uppers.

Maybe then this is why we are so addicted to the show and we push through 4-6 episodes a night, which sounds like a lot but considering that each show is only 30 minutes long, take out the commercials its down to about 15-20 minutes and we do watch a few of them in our bedroom as we are getting ready for bed. Also, the show is on ALL THE TIME. While we were gone for two days over Thanksgiving, we had 20 new episodes to view on our DVR. Currently, our DVR is telling us that there are 43 new episodes to be recorded in the next two weeks.

Plus we like the snark value, picking on people’s poor taste and decisions, wondering why they were idiots in choosing a cookie cutter home in X neighborhood instead of going with the one with character outside of their favorite neighborhood. Why they would paint X color in Y room over leaving the current combination alone or even better, when they misuse terminology to make it sound like they know what they are talking about. The crack is getting a little out of hand in that we’ve decided to start DVRing regular House Hunters, to give us an idea of what markets look like around the US and makes it much easier than hunkering around a laptop looking at grainy photos of properties in various areas. Even if we have a spare hour before bed, we watch HHI.

This is getting bad.
But I’m not sure if I am capable of asking for help.

Yet.


1. I will maintain and stand by that Gossip Girls is perhaps one of the better written “adult” dramas on television. I’ve started stop watching most network television this season as many of the shows I used to love have become convoluted messes with wooden characters, plots that beyond ridiculous and of course, the trusty jumping of the shark.