HGTV’s House Hunters reality show premiered 20 years ago in October. The focus: A couple (usually) is seeking a home within a certain budget, with their agent informing them exactly what they can get for that budget and showing them three options.
The couple then agrees on a choice, put in an offer and get the house. Here, realtor.com offers some real-life home-buying lessons gleaned from the show during the past two decades.
1. Prioritize your wish list
In a perfect world, you’d be able to find a home that offers a quick commute to work, a spacious backyard with room for a pool, and enough guest rooms to accommodate visits from your family. In reality, however, finding a house that checks all the boxes is easier said than done. House Hunters use a specific formula with three criteria chosen by the homebuyers to zero in on what they truly desire.
This could include location, finished bathroom and under budget, or it could be home with history, room for grandma and new appliances. Prioritizing the list ahead of time will help you to realize where you’re willing to make a sacrifice, while not prioritizing your list could lead to you missing out on a great home.
2. Keep an open mind
Don’t rule out a property just because it doesn’t meet all of your needs. Instead, be willing to adjust your priority list with some wiggle room. Not only will this give you a better understanding of your non-negotiables, but you might be pleasantly surprised and stumble upon a great find.
3. Be realistic about your budget
This might be one of the biggest lessons House Hunters has taught us: Don’t be fooled by the not-so-real budgets on reality TV. It’s important to know what you can get within your budget. Instead of touring—and falling in love with—a house that’s out of your budget, research the market beforehand.
But remember: Just because you have a tight budget doesn’t mean you should kiss your dream house goodbye. There always are those episodes of the show where couples purchase a property below their budget and then renovate it to near-perfection.
4. Look at more than three houses
You probably won’t be able to wrap up your house hunt after just three viewings. Instead, it’s best to shop around as much as possible. Go see a home even if it doesn’t seem to check off all of your boxes.
This can help you to hone in on your must-haves and deal-breakers. If you’re on the fence about a listing, take the leap of faith and view it. Worst-case scenario, you’ll learn more about what you don’t want.
5. Be ready to compromise with your partner
You and your partner might have entirely different needs, so the art of compromise is key to finding a home that will make both of you happy.
It’s essential to communicate with your partner, prioritize your own needs and then your combined needs. Discuss your deal-breakers before you start attending open houses, and devise a game plan for compromising.
6. Look beyond the staging
Don’t like the bright orange paint in the living room or the tile backsplash in the kitchen? Do your best to walk in with a vision to see beyond those things, because they always can be changed. With a little vision, you might just snag a diamond in the rough.