New reality show pilot features U.S. expats in Costa Rica
House Hunters International has come to Costa Rica again. This time, the popular HGTV show focuses on the beaches of the northwestern province of Guanacaste, including Playa Conchal, Pirate’s Bay (Bahia de los Piratas), Playa Grande and Playa Flamingo. The show airs July 15 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
In this episode, Rebecca Clower of Blue Water Properties takes clients Sarah and Steve on a tour of several beach areas including an ocean view lot. Sarah and Steve have to decide if they are going to buy or build with a budget of $300,000.
The Tico Times caught up with Clower recently and asked her a few questions about what it was like to be on the famous HGTV show. During our conversation, she shared some more exciting news – Costa Rica is going to star in an upcoming reality show pilot about expats. Excerpts follow:
TT: What was your experience like filming the House Hunter’s episode?
RC: It was great! The crew was based in NYC and came to Costa Rica for four days to film the episode. They obviously have done this before. They crew was professional, our days were usually from 7:30 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., so the days were long, but very much worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. My client Sarah Starkey, who is my client in the show (along with her friend Steve Low), live here full-time and really love life at the beach. When I first met with Sarah, I never thought she would end up here full-time. This show actually has a major twist from the normal House Hunters, so you’ll just have to tune in to see what I mean.
How did the House Hunters team find you?
I had done three episodes for HGTV Canada’s new show “Live Here, Buy This,” and one of the producers saw me on one of those shows and contacted me.
Can you tell us more about this upcoming reality show about expats?
HGTV has approved a pilot for a potential reality show about expats selling it all in search of the dream of living in Costa Rica. If the pilot special is well received by the American public on HGTV, then the network would purchase an entire season or 26 episodes, which could be a huge deal for real estate and tourism in general. The show will be somewhat like House Hunters International with a twist – a sole focus on Costa Rica and each show would feature two realtors and their set of clients looking to move to Costa Rica on a permanent basis and escape the U.S. The other area realtors that were chosen are also friends of mine, which makes it even more fun to do. We do not have the exact film date yet, but it’s proposed to be in November of this year.
What has it been like to go through the screening process to be on the reality show?
I was actually contacted by the producer (who is an ex-producer of Survivor), who had recently wrapped up a project with HGTV USA. He did some searching on the web with HGTV and Costa Rica and came across my website and bio and thought I would be a good fit for the show he was trying to put together. I had two Skype webcam interviews with the producer. They also interviewed the other realtors. With that footage, coupled with the shows I had done for HGTV Canada, they put together a three-minute piece to pitch to the network executives and the concept was approved. The folks at HGTV love the concept of the show and Costa Rica as the destination of these buyers who are trying to escape the U.S.
You say you think this could be a big deal for Costa Rica, tourism and real estate – can you elaborate on that?
Costa Rica is a place that many people know about, but something like this could really put the country on the map, make it a household name. The more publicity Costa Rica gets, the more people would like to discover the country, vacation here and invest here, and why not? It’s a beautiful place with warm people and a great climate and politically speaking, it’s a stable and peaceful country. Many people may think they know what Costa Rica is like from what they read online or hear from friends, but seeing an actual reality show about life here, people buying real estate, how we live, is something completely different and never done before.
You tell us Sarah is your client in real life and on House Hunters International. How did the real estate shopping and buying process on the show compare to what you and Sarah went through in real life? Can you describe the similarities and differences?The properties we looked at on the show were actually the same ones (in one case, not the same unit, but the same floor plan in the same building) that we looked at in real life. So even though many people say that the HHI show is not reality, it really was in this case. Only on the show, we are obviously reenacting Sarah’s journey to search for that perfect home!
There is a twist I mentioned before in this HHI episode, which I can’t give away. But know that in real life we looked at dozens of homes and condos, but the show has to condense it down to three that were seriously considered, for time constraints. The show is 22 minutes and we are basically summarizing Sarah’s life, my background and the properties all in that short amount of time.
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