I usually steer clear of watching reality shows, so I surprised myself when I agreed to visit the set of A&E’s new show, Sell This House, which was filmed in Coconut Grove Feb. 17-19. I had a vague idea of what it was – kind of like Trading Spaces gets a realtor, right?
Expecting to see huge white vans with Sell This House logos and a trailer for host Tanya Memme, I worried that I was at the wrong place when I pulled up to the house and saw only a few cars and SUVs. The homeowners, Cesar and Lisa Verde, were inside painting, while their realtor, Alvaro Coraspe, was helping to clean the windows from the outside.
I took a few minutes to talk to designer Roger Hazard, and he told me that homes that have been on the market for months are selected for the show.
“We hold an open house with hidden cameras and invite potential buyers to preview the property so that we can get the negative feedback,” Hazard said. “Then we spend a full day restaging the house.”
The budget for all of the changes is a mere $300. The last day, the same buyers come back to see the renovated house.
“After being on the show, some houses have sold in as quickly as five days,” Hazard said.
He led me into the house, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of paint. The crew was painting the previously terracotta orange living room white, giving the house a brighter and bigger feel.
To my right, the dining room had been filled with all kinds of the Verdes’ belongings, from large pieces of furniture to a pair of stuffed animals sitting in miniature chairs. Hazard explained that they took these pieces out in order to de-clutter and de-personalize the house.
“Our goal is to showcase the house, not the lifestyle of the person living in it,” Hazard said.
As the crew was getting ready to shoot a scene with Hazard, Memme came out of a bedroom wearing sneakers, a pair of capris and a green zip-up sweater over a t-shirt.
“It’s a very laid-back atmosphere on the show,” Memme said. “We all help out. I want the homeowners to realize I’m going through this with them.”
Just as I was about to ask Mr. Verde what the experience had been like for him, I was interrupted by somebody shouting,
“Everybody be quite for a minute.”
The house was dead still, and I thought I’d sneak a peek at the scene that was going to be shot. As I moved toward the bedroom I tripped over an empty bucket of paint. The sound of the tin rolling along the tiles echoed through the halls.
Oops. So much for silence.
I decided to leave shortly after that.
Sell this House airs Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on A&E.
Natalia Maldonado can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.