Marathon-Worthy? UrbanTurf Looks at HGTV’s Best Shows

by Shilpi Paul

Unlike MTV, HGTV’s programming still holds true to the channel’s acronym (for House and Garden Television) and is a place where the real estate obsessed can get sucked into an eight-hour House Hunters marathon. Given this temporary obsession, UrbanTurf decided to pick a few of our favorite shows for those that aren’t familiar with the channel.

House Hunters International

This show takes House Hunters’ (the popular program follows buyers on the home search, comparing their top three options and revisiting them in the place they choose after they are all settled in) most appealing factors — the minor suspense, the voyeuristic peek — and adds some Travel Channel-type flavor. The buyers on the international version often have a little more zest than their domestic counterparts. You’ll see Americans hoping to make a fresh start in Vietnam or Italy, cross-cultural lovers trying to create a new life together, and wealthy industrialists buying opulent vacation homes. HGTV often plays up differences in culture (“I’m used to a bigger refrigerator!” seems to be a frequently-uttered phrase) and buyers don’t always rely on traditional real estate agents, sometimes using word of mouth and local advice to track down a place.

Income Property

Scott McGillivray, the host of HGTV’s Income Property, has quietly attracted a fan base since his show debuted in 2009. The handsome, calmly competent contractor creates rental units in single-family homes, usually in unfinished basements. McGillivray visits homeowners who have enough space for a rental unit and need help with their mortgages, and shows them what their future rental will look like with a cool visualization tool, calculates the cost of the renovation and determines the going rate in the area for a studio or one-bedroom. He usually gives them two options so they can decide how much they want to invest. The alchemy of creating something from nothing is the main appeal of the show, and the gratitude of the homeowners, who are sometimes in dire straits, can be pretty moving.

Holmes on Homes

One of HGTV’s most educational shows, Holmes on Homes features contractor Mike Holmes as a renovation-gone-wrong problem solver. Holmes, whose motto is “Make It Right,” comes into properties that have had sloppy renovation work done and finishes the job. He goes into great detail about what went wrong and how to fix it. His candor and expertise are the main draws here: Holmes isn’t afraid to call out previous contractors for thrift or laziness, and viewers can amass a good amount of useful knowledge with time. This show is a good option for anyone on the verge of hiring a contractor.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_profiles_hgtvs_best_shows/4890


  1. Richko said at 4:30 pm on Wednesday January 11, 2012:

    I’d love to see a rundown of all the HGTV shows/episodes set in DC through the years. (Though for the many episodes of the DC versions of Designed to Sell, Get It Sold, and Real Estate Intervention maybe just highlights would suffice.)

    There have been a few particularly interesting episodes of My First Place and Property Virgins set in DC in the last few years, not to mention House Hunters (the show that will never die!).

  1. FulanodeTal said at 5:16 pm on Wednesday January 11, 2012:

    Househunters International fascinates me. While I understand that the show is focused on real estate, it appears to me that many of the U.S. buyers have very little knowledge of the local culture in the location where they are purchasing, and zero proficiency in the local language if it’s anything other than English. I’d be curious to know how many of these buyers bail after a year or two if their expectations of “paradise” don’t pan out and they aren’t able to assimilate much into the local culture.

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