House Hunters is a show that everyone loves to hate; more specifically, viewers love to hate the couples who appear on the show. It seems the producers largely prefer to cast 21 year-olds with inexplicably massive budgets or idiots of any age who’ve clearly never put one ounce of thought into what a real estate market is really like (i.e. no, you can’t purchase that McMansion in a DC suburb on your part-time librarian’s salary).
This post is meant to speak to a more specific subset of couples who appear on the show: parents-to be. The storyline is rather predictable: an agent is showing a couple a series of houses when they suddenly announce that the woman is expecting. At this point, I think the realtor should stop altogether and the producers should include a record-scratching sound, because this new detail changes everything. Here’s a quick rundown of what parents-to-be say when house-hunting and what they should be saying.
“We really want an open concept for entertaining.”
“I’d really like a nice soaking tub to take relaxing baths.”
Yes, you actually do want a soaking tub, but not for relaxing baths. You need a tub deep enough that when your kids treat it like a pool, splashing and thrashing about, it’s deep enough to keep at least some of that water from soaking down into the floors and through your downstairs ceiling (ask me how I know…). One exception: if you plan on having more kids, you may actually need this for a soaking tub, because once you hit a certain point in pregnancy, a regular tub is not going to contain you. Shamu needs a bigger tank.
“We really don’t like the paint colors in this house.”
This is a dumb concern because paint costs like $30 /gallon and the couple’s budget is umpteen-hundred-thousand dollars. Putting that aside, the real reason paint color doesn’t matter is that your children will destroy whatever paint you have, rapidly and repeatedly. If you want it to look nice, you’ll be re-painting somewhat regularly until your children are teens (maybe longer). You will have ample opportunity to pick the colors that suit you, and most likely, the kids will beat that concern right out of you.
“We’d love a home theater with surround sound”
No. If that spaces exists in the home you’re purchasing, you will need it to store all the baby crap your wife will never let you get rid of (my husband made me type that).
“I love the glass door cabinet fronts.”
Absolutely not! You need solid doors to hide the infinite supply of haphazardly “stacked” children’s plates you’ve purchased from the Target Dollar spot. Better yet, you should turn your attention to an ample pantry with a locking door. Young children may not hear you ask them to put on their shoes the first ten times you ask, but they can hear you crinkling a bag of chips from any part of the house. Best to enjoy your snack behind a large locked door. Once your kids are teens, perhaps you can alter the lock to keep them from eating you out of house and home five minutes after you return from the grocery store.
“We’re looking for more bathrooms.”
This is a mixed bag. If you have older kids, like teens, you’re definitely going to want this. If you have young ones, especially boys, this may not be the bonus you’ve imagined. This means additional toilets, floors, and walls soaked in urine for you to scrub. The upside is, the more bathrooms, the less likely your kids are peeing in (and all over) the one you use.
“We’d like a basement.”
For once, the parents-to-be nail it. Yes! All the yeses to this. You want a place you can send your children where you do not have to see their mess (or hear their arguing), a place where they can play their games without destroying your sanity. I do still get a chuckle at the expense of the couples who say they want to put a workout studio in their new basement. I wish HGTV would air a follow-up episode showing their wife using the treadmill as a clothing rack and their children using the $2,000 Bowflex as a rocketship.
Bottom line: parents-to-be should find a house with good bones that they can redo later once their children have graduated from the Animal House phase (this is why we can’t have nice things!). Until then, they should probably just recognize and embrace the fact that, as both new homeowners and new parents, they have absolutely no idea what they’re getting into.