Every once in a while, you will find a listing for a house “as seen on House Hunters International!” Ten homes in El Centro have gotten the HHI star treatment over the last few years. One of the most memorable was “La Pianista,” a lovely home in a good neighborhood on 70 x 47 y 49.
“This house will sell fast!” one agent promises, and you’d think it would. It’s had the kind of publicity that money can’t buy, becoming one of the most famous private homes in the city because of its role as the unattainable dream home in a drama played out on HHI. Those guys from Canada had it in their grips, but their deal fell through. When an agent showed them a (superior) home next door, the heartache of living next to the house they couldn’t have was too much to bear. How accurate this storyline is, I’ll never know, but you’d think Pianista’s stock would have shot up after that.
Anyway, Pianista’s new owners didn’t stay very long. After many months and a quiet $20,000 price reduction, no agency has plastered the SOLD sign on their listings. What’s the problem? Many properties we were told would sell fast haven’t sold at all. The clock was supposedly ticking on another place in Centro, a ruin on a very desirable street. A couple from Mexico City was about to write a check, and if none of us come through, “I’ll buy it myself,” the agent told us. It’s still listed for sale. Yes, I know the agency websites are notoriously slow to update their listings, but this was six months ago.
The photogenic Pianista has great aesthetics and is strong on design details, but it also carries the weight of some inherent problems. Its narrow footprint (probably only 5 meters — none of the listings say) is hard to overcome, as is its tiny courtyard and what even a real estate agent admitted is a “Martini pool,” a euphemism for a something you’d sit in and drink cocktails, but not much else. There is also an exhausting, mile-high (OK, more like 30-foot) walk up the concrete stairs to get to the well-appointed master bedroom. (Can you call it the master bedroom when it’s the only bedroom?)
It’s rightly compared with a city loft, with an open floor plan that makes the most of its railroad flat proportions. And no other small home in Centro has been marketed more slyly — it’s the only home where New Age-y mood music was switched on just before we toured the rooms, where the instrumentals were piped in. La la la, here we are in Pianista, la la la. All in all, it’s a tidy little hideaway for an expat with $200k, can’t swim and doesn’t want guests.
On the other side of the Centro, another HHI star, the modern (and probably high-maintenance) Tropic Thunder in Mejorada has sold. I can’t say for sure if HHI helped, but it was marked “Under Contract” shortly after it appeared on television. Another HHI star, Casa 54, the house that those guys from Canada bought, was soon sold again after being listed for $245,000 “As Seen on TV,” as well as in Ambientes magazine.
My favorite of the HHI stars is the handsome La Cochera, also still available as far as I can tell. It’s got style, it’s got class, it’s got Los Dos across the street. What more could I ask? It looked great on TV, too. So why is it still available for $289,000? Did I just answer my own question?
What we can’t know, or at least find out easily, is what the final selling price was on what was sold. You can never really get a grip on real property values in Mérida.