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Here’s What This Couple From House Hunters Learned About Buying A Home

Lauren NowackiSeptember 09, 2019

Buying a home is an experience that takes you through a range of emotions as you navigate the process of searching for a home, finding the right one and negotiating an offer. There are trials and tribulations, frustration, joy, excitement and, of course, suspense – all the makings of a perfect TV show. It’s no surprise, then, that a reality TV show featuring home buyers going through the process of finding a new home draws in millions of viewers each week. “House Hunters” on HGTV first aired in 1999 and ever since has shown viewers what it’s like to walk through houses for sale and then decide on the right home after much deliberation and consideration.

Purchasing a home is a big decision, and so is going on TV to do it. Not only are you experiencing the overwhelming feeling of purchasing a home firsthand, but you’re also doing it in front of millions of viewers. Newlyweds Angela and Ben Hoecker of Grand Rapids, Mich. did just that when they bought their first home this year on the hit show “House Hunters.”

In their episode, “Hopelessly Impatient in Michigan,” the Hoeckers searched for and found their first home despite their differences of opinion on their ideal home. A fan of older-style homes, Ben wanted a bungalow with hardwood floors that was close to downtown Grand Rapids, while Angela wanted a craftsman style house in the suburbs.

Among the many homes they searched, the show showcased three: a three-bedroom Cape Cod house 5 minutes from downtown, a four-bedroom split-level home that was move-in ready and a four-bedroom home in Grand Rapids’ historic district. The couple ended up choosing the second home much to the shock of many viewers, as neither really liked the thought of a split-level house. But the home was the best option for them and, as the couple learned through their experience, you may not get everything you want when you’re buying a home, even on TV.

Buying A Home On TV

Now a homeowner and experienced home buyer, Angela shared with us what else she and Ben learned from buying their first home and what it was like doing it all while the cameras were rolling.

Lauren Nowacki: What made you want to buy your first home on TV?

Angela Hoecker: We were actually approached by our realtor to be on the show. He had been working with the producers on another episode and mentioned that we were in the middle of searching for a home. He mentioned we'd be great candidates and from there we went through the audition process.

LN: What fears did you have about buying a home? What about doing it on TV?

AH: After searching for a home for a while it became discouraging, especially in the current market in West Michigan. It was really frustrating and disheartening.  We had put in generous offers on multiple homes and were not getting any bites. My biggest fear became wondering if we were ever going to find something at all. Thankfully our realtor was a good friend, so the process of being on TV didn't really change anything. Our biggest fear about buying a home on TV was more about how we'd be portrayed than anything. It almost made the process a little more relaxed knowing we'd at least find something we'd be happy with long term.

LN: What was filming like? And how do you think that made your home buying experience different from the normal home buying experience off camera?

AH: Filming was a lot of fun. The crew was great and having known our realtor made things very natural and easy. The only thing that made it different than a normal home buying experience was having to have organic conversations multiple times. The nice thing about the show is it shows real people going through a natural process and having real conversations as if cameras aren't there. We disagreed, argued, had fun and discussed our likes just like we had when looking for houses before the cameras were around.

LN: What was the best part of buying your home on TV? What was the worst?

AH: The best part was having the experience! The worst part was long hours searching for the right home for us.

LN: What did you learn from buying a home on TV?

AH: No house is going to have every single characteristic we want unless we were building a home. Taking that into consideration made selecting our home a bit easier.

LN: What advice do you have for someone who is buying a home?

AH: Make a list of needs, wants, bonuses and deal breakers. This will allow everyone's opinions to be taken into consideration and for you to be able to really see what it is you are looking for in a home and what you'd be happy with. There has to be some flexibility and compromise.

LN: What advice do you have for someone who is going on TV to buy their home?

AH: Be yourself. Have the real conversations that you normally would, as this is a big life decision. And take your time!

LN: You and your husband Ben had some very different items on your wish list. How did you come to an agreement on the home? What would you tell a couple in the same situation when looking for a home?

AH: Compromise! Out of all of the homes we saw, including other homes before we were on the show, [the home we chose] was the best fit for our needs. We both saw ourselves growing a family in this home and knew any big changes were just cosmetic. Ben is a big budget guy, so knowing we were getting more house for our money than if we were to buy downtown made a big difference. Plus, the location is great and we're only a 15-minute car ride from downtown.

My advice is to make your lists and understand what each other really truly needs and would be happy with. Make individual lists and circle anything you have in common and really focus on homes with those characteristics. The important thing is that everyone is happy with the decision because it is a big one!

LN: What made you choose the home you chose? Are you still happy with your decision?

AH: The two full baths, updated kitchen and four bedrooms are what really made us choose our home. It has tons of space and a great yard for our dogs and children (as our one child grows, and we hopefully have more)! For the most part, I am still happy with our decision. I still don't love that it's a split level. We've already discussed that if we do end up having three kids, we'll outgrow this house pretty quickly. We need additional storage, and a full basement would be great. As for right now, we are happy. As our family grows, we'll reevaluate.

LN: What has life been like since your show aired?

AH: Since the show aired, life hasn't changed much other than we had a baby! We didn't know it at the time, but I was already pregnant when we were filming the show. It's crazy to think how much life has changed in such a short time.

Buying A Home Of Your Own

TV shows like “House Hunters” can give you some idea of what to expect when you purchase a home. As often portrayed on the show, things don’t always go off without a hitch. You may have disagreements with a partner, walk through some real duds, feel defeated, work within a budget and learn to compromise. But just like on TV, you’ll eventually find the home and your happy ending. It might just take more than an hour to do it.

What these shows may not have time to reveal is the entire home buying process, which includes sifting through hundreds of online listings, walking through dozens of homes and negotiating the sale with the previous homeowner. Financing your purchase is also a major part of the process. Before you even get started, you’ll want to make sure you have enough money saved for upfront costs (like a down payment and closing costs). We also recommend you get approved for a loan, which will prove to real estate agents and sellers that you are willing and able to purchase a home. It will also help you understand what you can afford.

Once you find a home and your offer is accepted, you’ll need to get an appraisal before finalizing the loan. The appraisal will provide the market value of the home. If the appraised value comes back higher than your offer, you’ve gained more equity. If it comes back lower than your offer, you’ll either need to renegotiate or pay the difference. The lender typically cannot lend more than 97% of the appraised value of the home.

You’ll also want to get a home inspection, which can help you discover any issues with the home before the deal is finalized. Then, you’ll close your loan by signing legal documents, paying closing costs and getting the keys to your new house.

If you were purchasing your home on TV, the final step may include recording an update a few months after purchasing the home to show how you’ve made it your own and how life has changed since then. In real life, you’ll just enjoy living in your home and making it your own.

If you’re ready to purchase a house, whether on TV or not, Rocket HomesSMis here to help simplify the home buying experience. We can help you search for houses, connect you with a real estate agent and get a mortgage to finance your home.

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    Lauren Nowacki

    Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.