House Hunting Internationally
Tomorrow I train back to Paris, armed with my “Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire” in case I’m questioned. I must get ready for the taping of my 46th House Hunters International episode that will take place over the weekend and into the first two days of the following week.
The taping of this episode was postponed from last Fall till now because the “contributor” had tested positive for Covid-19 just before the shoot. In preparation, I had a PCR test done yesterday at a Niçois lab—the results came in last night and, happily, I tested “negative.”
The first episode I filmed was in 2006. How they found me at the time is still a mystery to me, but it all started with just one. Then, it became like a snowball rolling down the hill picking up speed and snow along the way until I can honestly say that I’ve taped more episodes than any other agent…except for one other whose own record is neck-and-neck with mine —Richard Blanco in the U.K. Otherwise, all the other agents have a long way to go before they can match our records.
House Hunters International was the first spin-off of the wildly popular HGTV’s House Hunters series. It features the same narrator, but focuses on properties outside of the United States, making it a whole lot more interesting (or so we think so!). Normally it features an individual, a couple, or family moving from either the United States or Canada to another country (in our case, France) with a different language and culture, either for a retirement or vacation house, schooling, or job opportunities.
“Wildly popular” is an understatement. Parrot Analytics has found that the audience demand for House Hunters International had 6.3 times the demand of the average TV series in the United States in the last 30 days. Only 8.6% of all shows in this market have this level of demand.
I don’t need the ratings to tell me that, however. Before Covid-19, when France was awash with tourists, I’d get stopped virtually every single day by a fan of the show who recognized me. I’ve had some pretty funny experiences in the process, too, and could tell story after story. One of my memorable spottings took place here in Nice. I was sitting at one of my favorite cafés along the waterfront when a woman did a B-line over to me. She blubbered all over me and then told me that even if she had seen Angelina Jolie, it wouldn’t have been as exciting for her!
I cracked up. I’d bested one of the world’s most beautiful and sexy icons! Seriously?! But even better than that, someone on Datalounge.com posted that, “Time for this year’s Datalounge Halloween Costume Party: Once again, you have to dress as someone or something that only a fellow DLer will appreciate or even understand. The easiest and cheapest costume this year would be the Wrigleyville Cumdump. I’m going as Adrian Leeds of House Hunters International.” — Anonymous
And in response, someone posted: “Make sure to talk up THE MARAIS! THE MARAIS!”
It’s all pretty funny to me. I just show up, wear the brightest colors I can find in my closet, load on lipstick, don a beret, then do my thing. Just because there’s a camera rolling is no reason to do the job any differently. In fact, the scenes we tape are right out of a playbook. While we must recreate the action after it took place in real time, the action is no less real and neither is the dialog. It’s not scripted—it’s whatever our natural reactions are to the scene at hand.
In the Fall of 2019, CheatSheet.com posted “5 Things HGTV Fans Can’t Stand About ‘House Hunters International.” According to author, Amanda Harding, “For every person who loves the HGTV series House Hunters, there’s three more who absolutely hate House Hunters International.”
That sounds like “sour grapes” to me. She says the international version is easy to despise because…1) Buyers seem clueless about living in cities; 2) Everyone seems to want American style homes; 3) They don’t do any research; 4) Buyers are overly picky and 5) They’re rarely grateful for the opportunity to travel.
Amanda must have been grabbing at straws to write such an article! She has totally forgotten that while House Hunters International is “reality TV,” it’s still “entertainment.” Here’s the other side to her coin:
1) Sure, prospective American buyers can be clueless about living in a foreign city! What experience living in the U.S. could possibly have given them the necessary insight to what it’s like living elsewhere? The U.S. is bordered by Canada and Mexico. Mexico, where Spanish is spoken, is the most “foreign” with which they’ve ever had direct contact. So, how can you expect the average American to be “worldly”—certainly not as worldly as you who are reading our Nouvellettres®.
2) Of course they want all their American creature comforts. Who wouldn’t? And they might start out clueless to local customs, but they don’t stay clueless for long, I can assure you.
3) Amanda seems to think that the prospective buyers don’t do their homework, but you see, that’s exactly what they’re doing on the show…they’re doing their research before making an informed decision. That’s the whole point of the show! She’s upset watching Americans perpetuate the stereotype of knowing nothing about the outside world…but guess what? Many don’t. That certainly isn’t true of you—you’re already more clued in than the average American…but think about the people around you, or all those people who still don’t even carry a passport!
(Here’s a great statistic: “The number of Americans with passports has hit a record high. According to Census and State Department data, 21.4 million passports were issued in 2016, which is the most ever. That means 42 percent of Americans hold a passport, a growth of 15 percent since 2007. In 1990, only four percent of Americans had one.” Source)
4) Of course buyers are picky. Why shouldn’t they be? They are spending their hard-earned bucks and they want to make them count. I’m super picky, too. Are they spoiled? Maybe, but I don’t find our contributors at all unreasonable. Amanda thought so.
5) She’s wrong about this, too. They are very grateful for their opportunity to live outside of the U.S. All of us living here are, I can assure you. That doesn’t mean we don’t have things to complain about. Crossing the cultural divide is no easy task. And we have to get the frustrations off our chests…so we complain to each other to make us feel better. So what? That doesn’t mean we don’t love living here! “Au contraire!”
Amanda thinks that House Hunters International will never be as popular as the original House Hunters, but she’s wrong. The viewers are loving it more and more and that’s why we keep producing them. For a different point of view, have a look at when Eliot Glazer—an LA-based TV writer, Broad City cast member, story editor for the hit series New Girl and contributor to Funny or Die—sat down with episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters and House Hunters International, and provided colorful commentary and no-holds-barred critiques.
Stay tuned in.
Visit our website page to keep up with our latest shows.
Be sure to like our Facebook page.
Visit HGTV for more about all its international shows.
And if you recently rented or bought a property in France, and want to be on a contributor a House Hunters International episode, just email us.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Three of our recent House Hunters International episodes are still online at HGTV! Vist our HHI page for details and links to the episodes on HGTV for “A Parisian Place for Mother and Daughter,””From Vancouver to the Vineyards of Epernay, France” and “The Good Life in Paris.”