HGTV’s House Hunters

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For a local couple, there’s nothing like having millions of people tag along while you search for your new home!

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photos by Matt Kocourek

Although exciting, searching for a new home is not without its challenges. Not only are you considering your lifestyle and tastes – and perhaps making what is the single biggest decision you will ever make in your life with someone else, keeping their tastes in mind, as well – but you also have to keep in mind your budget. There are just as many hurdles as there are exciting moments when you are on that quest to find your next home. Imagine, though, if you were going through this process in front of millions of people! Welcome to HGTV’s House Hunters.

At its core, House Hunters showcases 30-minute episodes with the same routine – one or two people, usually a couple, are in the market to buy or rent a new place. This American reality television series takes viewers behind the scenes as individuals, couples and families learn what to look for when purchasing a home and deciding if a home is right for them   or not. This show also focuses on the emotional component of finding that new home, and walks its viewers through the process. For those watching the show, it can be a guilty pleasure. For those who have been a part of the show, it’s an experience like no other. For those of us in Kansas City, the show just got a bit closer to home, as one local couple recently became a part of the show in their quest to find their new home.

When Ashlyn Driskill (soon to be Vielock) and Foster Vielock were searching for a home, their Realtor, Brett Budke, suggested they consider applying to be on the show.

“I signed Foster and myself up just for the heck of it,” smiled Ashlyn, who never really dreamed they would be called back by the producers of the show. By the next day, however, Pie Town Productions, producers of the show, expressed its interest in them and wanted the couple to move to the next round of the interview process, which consisted of a group phone interview.

“This then lead to a YouTube video we had to post of us answering a list of questions about our style in houses and just information about ourselves,” said Ashlyn. “We did not hear anything for a few weeks, so we did not think we made it.”

It wasn’t until Foster and Ashlyn were in Arizona shortly thereafter to attend a friend’s wedding when they heard they had made the show.

“We honestly didn’t think we would make it,” expressed Ashlyn, who had no shame reflex in admitting she and Foster simply took it as a joke when they initially applied. Budke, however, was the reason they moved forward.

Budke, Realtor with Reece Nichols, was no stranger to this experience. He was fortunate enough to have been on House Hunters in 2011, working with buyers from Olathe purchasing their first home.

“When I started showing houses to Foster and Ashlyn, they mentioned how much the love that channel and asked if we could all apply to be on the show,’ Budke recalled.

As part of his role on this show, Budke definitely wore his Realtor hat, enthusiastically representing the home buyers in their search for a new home.

“We looked at three different houses and then at the end of the show, they picked their favorite one,” explained Budke. “(While watching the show), audiences at home can follow along and try to figure out which home they are going to pick. The three houses all have similar, yet different, features that are all a part of the search criteria for the buyers. All three houses are in different locations around the metro area and in different price brackets, each featuring both positive and negative elements that ultimately make the decision a challenging one for the buyers.”

Budke appreciates this show for the manner in which HGTV makes the home buying process appear fun. Plus, he respects how informative the show is to viewers who may have questions about their own home search.

“When I met Foster and Ashlyn and started showing them houses, I had a good feeling they would be really good on the TV show,” Budke said. “We had a blast looking at homes together and then the TV show was a bonus. Foster is very outspoken and speaks his mind about any feature of a house without thinking first and Ashlyn tends to be more on the shy side, so they had to meet in the middle when it came to the decision making.”

And while we all know how exhausting it can be to search for a new home, doing so in front of a camera with the knowledge that the world would soon be watching adds another level of stress and anxiety to the equation.

“The filming lasted approximately six and a half days,” said Ashlyn. “It was actually pretty tiring,” reflected Foster. “We would show up at eight (in the morning) and then film until approximately seven (at night). We started in early December for the first round of filming and finished in late January.”

After Ashlyn and Foster completed a few renovations on the home they finally selected, the film crew returned to document the changes to the house.

Added Budke, “Filming the show is a lot different than real life. When I’m showing houses, we will probably spend about 15-30 minutes inside looking around then move on to the house next on the tour. When we were filming the houses of the show, we spent about 8-10 hours inside each house.”

Despite the rigors of taping a hit-rated show, Foster and Ashlyn enjoyed every moment of it. It’s not every day a person gets to hang out with a film crew!

“They were so much fun and made the process really easy,” said Ashlyn, who, despite her shy and reserved demeanor, embraced a relative demeanor of calmness with a camera roughly six inches from her face all day.

Although the days were long during the filming, Ashlyn and Foster urge others who are interested to apply for and enjoy this experience as they have.

“We would highly recommend this experience,” stated Foster. “It was so much fun throughout the entire experience and it provided us with a sense of accomplishment being able to see the progress we made on the house on TV.”

Filming encompassed roughly 60 hours of footage, which is ultimately condensed to a 30-minute TV show. Obviously, there was a lot of material left on the cutting room floor.

“I am sure there could be a really good ‘bloopers’ film with all of the extra footage they have and all of us having silly out-takes,” laughed Budke. “We all had an amazing time filming. Our crew was fun and outgoing and made us all feel as comfortable as we could with a huge camera right in front of our faces.”

Foster and Ashlyn concurred.

“The film crew was a blast to hang out with,” Ashlyn said. “They were actually in a lot of the scenes as extras in the background.”

Neither Budke, Foster or Ashlyn were allowed to see the show before it aired on national TV on Saturday, August 5, 2017, which was rather nerve-wracking for them, but they all seemed pleased with the final product.

“Foster and Ashlyn were a treat to work with,” said Budke. “And we all felt like it was a great representation of the Kansas City area.”


Realtor: Brett Budke – ReeceNichols   |   Furniture: Nebraska Furniture Mart

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