The latest House Hunters International filmed in Mérida is the third and possibly final show since Pie Town Productions first showed up in 2008 and rocked my world. I had never given much thought to Mérida before a show depicted a mother and daughter coming to the Yucatan to look for life in the tropics. Then they showed Erich and Rob, moving here from Japan by way of Toronto, filmed in 2009 and aired last year.
Maybe my enjoyment of the episode was dampened by the fact that I’m still looking for a home, and the show featured people who are already “living the dream.” I feel slightly mocked at how the show’s format makes the process seem so simple.
Of course, off the air, HHI is clear about their production process, that it’s all pretty much staged with buyers who are already under contract or at least very close to that point. Now that I understand this, the drama of the show is dulled. I always knew it was reenacted and constructed, up to a point. No one really goes to a foreign country, strolls through three homes and then picks one. From the point of view of Pie Town (domestic episodes) and Leopard Films (the international ones), the taping goes to waste if the buyers don’t buy anything, so they need to be assured of a satisfactory resolution (the buyers don’t go screaming into the night) before they begin. Thing is, in at least one of the three segments, the buyers are looking at houses they have already chosen and marveling at this-or-that like they’re seeing it for the first time. Often they are praising their own choice of paint or furniture!
Viewers get so caught up in the show, suspending disbelief and forming strong opinions. That first HHI in Mérida? Another blog carefully documented it, and the comments that followed were unkind, verging on scathing! How could Malaya overlook the charms of House No. 1? She’s unworthy of Mérida! No Mexicans were invited to her cocktail party! She’s colonized Mexico! Nonsense like that.
So with that understood, let’s review the latest HHI, which you can review here for as long as HGTV keeps the show online.
Todd and Allison Nevins are making a complete move — selling everything in Carrollton, Texas and planning to live full time in Mérida. They have no kids, but must accommodate a dog, and are wisely insisting on a garage and a pool. They connect with Keith Heitke of Mexico International. The listing tells us that House No. 1, La Cochera on Calle 68 (ignore those misleading HHI map graphics) was one of Heitke’s renovation projects.
I thought it was really beautiful, and it’s conveniently across the street from Los Dos, where Heitke’s partner runs a cooking school. (We get a look at the sophisticated and dramatic Los Dos courtyard at the end of the show.)
At $299,000, Cochera’s handsome aesthetics went over well, but its size wasn’t adequate for their dog and had trouble fitting a home office.
Then came the big house on Calle 64 in La Ermita. They managed to time the showing during a rain storm, which showed off the open garage plan, something I warmed up to after my initial disbelief. It was offered at $350,000 or $15,000 past the top of their budget. But despite the long narrow bathroom and the “PlastiBolsa” fabricator next door (that I spy on Google Street Maps) and the relative remote location, I really loved this house. Didn’t see the plastic bag operation? You have to look fast. But there are other high-end renovations along that street, so I’m guessing the fabricator isn’t a big problem, assuming it’s still there.
House No. 3 is “Tropic Thunder,” as it’s called on its listing. It’s in Mejorada on Calle 44, which Allison noted is a bit busy. It’s a gorgeous modern home, at $247,500 on the current listing ($279,000 was quoted on the show) but possibly a bit overbuilt for the gritty neighborhood that hasn’t quite taken off. They didn’t mention a worrying feature of “Tropic Thunder” — that a small indoor garden off the entryway opens to the sky. An open garage is one thing, but this home with its crisp, pristine finishes is a little narrow to fare well during rainy season. I also wonder about all that glass in the rear. Is that practical in a region where you go indoors to escape the relentless sun? (UPDATE: Tropic Thunder is under contract. I have no idea what price the owner accepted, though.)
Basically, the show featured the No. 2 home the Nevins had already bought, plus two homes the real estate agent has been trying to sell. Still, it’s a fun show just to get a look-see at distant properties.
For me, when HHI is in Malta or Prague, it’s good escapist fun. Coming from Mérida, not so much.