House Hunters is Lying to You: Tales of a First Time Home Buyer

My man friend (I’m just going to continue to call him that, because I hate the word fiancé) and I just purchased our first home. It has been an entirely intimidating and overwhelming experience, and there were several times at different house showings that I was strongly tempted to just hide in the foyer coat closet, rock back and forth in the fetal position and cry. But, I didn’t. I made it through. And now, we’re homeowners! Which maybe doesn’t seem like that big of deal, but I’m 24 and my other half is 26, so being a “young homeowner” makes me feel pretty damn accomplished. Until I remember that I don’t even know how to start a lawnmower, and I’m going to have to shovel a driveway… but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re a reality television addict like myself, you’ve undoubtedly seen House Hunters. Actually, you don’t even need to be a reality t.v. addict to have seen House Hunters… it’s kind of like Cops. No matter the hour of the day, it feels like you can find it on t.v. somewhere. Anyway, I really like watching House Hunters. But, then I started house hunting in the real world and realized what a load of bogus the whole show is. Buckle up for this eye-opening analysis of how House Hunters is feeding you a big ol’ line of B.S.

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1. “What about the paperwork?”

Obviously, House Hunters is the highlight reel of the home buying process. I mean, I wouldn’t want to sit there and watch these people I didn’t even know sign literal mountains of paperwork. I don’t even want to watch people I DO know sign paperwork. But, it would be nice if they at least showed maybe, I don’t know, ONE SHEET OF PAPER at some point. I had assumed that there would be a lot of paperwork involved in purchasing a home, but I really had no idea how much. Allow me to break it down for you: there is paperwork for absolutely EVERYTHING. You get a sheet or packet with details about each home you tour. You’re signing papers for credit reports, mortgage applications, titles, home inspections, utility transfers… the list goes on and on. Prepare for a hand cramp, because it’s inevitable.

2. “Why do they get margaritas?”

Surely you’ve noticed that the buyers on House Hunters always make the super dramatic, suspense-filled decision about what home to purchase over something like chips, guacamole and margaritas. Or pizza. Or mimosas. Or even coffee. I hate to break it to you, but that isn’t real life. When we decided what house we were going to buy, we were still in the house. It was way less of a life-changing, emotional decision and more of an exhausted, “Yep, this one will do. Let’s put in an offer!”. When we made the decision, I felt like yelling “WHERE IS MY FRUITY DRINK?!!?” at our poor realtor. I really wasn’t prepared for how anticlimactic the whole moment was.

3. “Do these people understand budgets?”

If I had a dollar for every time some bimbo said something about the budget on House Hunters, I would be off parasailing in Fiji right now instead of writing this. But sadly, my life doesn’t work that way. Maybe I’ll find a quarter in the couch. Anyway, I think I’ve heard something like this in nearly every episode: “Well honey, this house is $15,000 under budget, so that leaves us some money to put in granite countertops and that whirlpool tub I literally can’t live without!”. NO. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. If you’re smart, you will have gotten pre-qualified for the amount of house you can afford. Let’s just say you were pre-qualified to spend $200,000 on your home. With the exception of some very special cases, you will apply for a mortgage loan for the cost of whatever house you want to purchase, minus your down payment. So, imagine you were buying a home that cost $170,000, and you have $10,000 for a down payment. This means that you will be applying for a mortgage loan in the amount of $160,000. Simple math, right? Just because you were pre-qualified to spend up to $200,000 does not mean you have that remaining $40,000 to spend willy nilly on your farmhouse sink and unfinished basement. If you can’t afford home improvements right now out of your pocket, you’ll be applying for a completely separate loan to cover them. Which also means separate interest rates. Don’t get it twisted, people.

4. “Am I only supposed to look at three houses?”

Three houses, House Hunters? Really? THREE houses? That’s not really a whole lot of “hunting”, if you ask me. Admittedly, this show gave me a totally warped perception of how many homes we should actually be looking at. We went through at least 40 houses with our realtor, and I ended up thinking we were crazy commitment-phobes who couldn’t make a decision. You need to see quite a few houses to really determine what you like and what you hate. Again, I know that House Hunters can’t show everything. But, I’ll be shocked if you find your perfect home after three houses… or ever, really.

5. “Why is this taking so long?”

I had NO IDEA how long the entire purchasing process takes. Sure, House Hunters shows you the buyers making their decision (over delicious chips and dip, duh), and then you fast-forward in time to visit them at their new home with that adorable little doorbell sound effect. And, there will be that little box that says something like, “Two months later”. But, I never really stopped to think about how LONG that would feel! For us, there were 47 days between when we made our offer and when we actually closed on the house, and it felt like an eternity! Life does not move at t.v. speed. Boo.

househuntersmemeIf you’re planning on purchasing a home soon, you’ll want to keep these things in mind to avoid feeling as shocked as I did. Now I know House Hunters is kind of a crock of crap. But, who am I kidding? I’m going to keep watching the marathons anyway.

Kat Kuehl

Kat is a 2011 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she got a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies (which is really just tacked on there to make her feel much more accomplished than she actually is). She now lives in the booming metropolis of Appleton, WI. When she's not working as a freelance writer, you can probably find her eating (YUM TACOS), attempting to plan her kick butt wedding (aka a lot of complaining, crying, wedding-hating) and talking in a really high pitched voice to her dogs. Crazy dog ladies, represent. You can watch her pretend her life is super put together on her blog at www.lemonadelinings.com or can follow her really entertaining (or so she likes to think) tweets at @kat_kuehl.

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