Angela Jiménez is a big fan of the TV show “House Hunters”; in fact, along with Rachel Ray’s cooking shows, she watches it almost every night. As an architect and real estate agent, she’s fascinated by the show’s reality-TV format in which the camera follows a couple through the process of choosing and buying a home.
So when Home and Garden Television’s (HGTV) “House Hunters” contacted Jiménez about being on the show, she didn’t have to think twice. The 20-year veteran of the building and real estate business knew she was in for an adventure.
The producers were looking for a nontraditional real estate agent, and they found Jiménez through her Web site, www.orbitcostarica.com, she told The Tico Times during a recent interview at her home office in the western San José suburb of Escazú.
An architect by training, Jiménez gained experience as a building inspector during the six years she worked for the National Housing Mortgage Bank (BANHVI) reviewing houses built with bonos, or government housing grants. Now she works for clients independently, with a team of civil engineers who review building plans and permits to make sure builders adhere to zoning regulations.
She watches out for common mistakes made in construction here, such as incorrectly mixed cement and faulty electrical wiring (TT, Oct. 7, 2005). For those looking to purchase an existing house, Jiménez inspects the quality of the concrete foundation, pipes, drains, septic tanks and electrical wiring to give clients a diagnostic of the overall condition of the house.
“I try to go beyond just real estate and make sure everyone knows about maintenance requirements, laws and quality so that they have a lot of information,” Jiménez said.
“House Hunters” producers asked Jiménez to submit a few tapes of couples that could potentially appear with her on the show. They turned down a few before giving the green light to Emilio Peres and Gabriela Seidlova, a young couple from Argentina and Czechoslovakia, respectively.
The international pair met in Costa Rica and has lived for six years in the beach town of Santa Teresa, on the southern NicoyaPeninsula, where they own the Funky Monkey hotel.
The birth of their son,Mahuel, a year and five months ago got them thinking about “schools and being in a place with more services – just looking more into the future,” Seidlova said. They were ready to leave the beach for the Central Valley.
They decided on a condo rather than a house, because they plan to travel a lot in the future and wanted a property they could leave without worrying about security.
So, like “House Hunters,” they found Jiménez through her Web site.When she pitched the idea of documenting their home-shopping experience on the show, they quickly agreed.
“We didn’t have any problem with it; it was fun, something new,” Seidlova said of the filming experience, though she admitted it was a lot of work.
HGTV’s crews came to Costa Rica for five days last month. They spent the first two days in Santa Teresa filming Peres and Seidlova in their home at the beach, and the latter three around the Central Valley, house hunting with Jiménez and the couple.
Jiménez had showed them several condos beforehand, but, to comply with the show’s format, they selected just three for the crew to follow them through.
They checked out Lilia, a development in Heredia, north of San José; and Prados del Oeste and Avalon, both in Santa Ana, southwest of San José.
Each of these projects has a unique style, but all offered what the couple was looking for – a two-bedroom condo with two or two and a half bathrooms in a secure area.
The crew documented their tour of each condo and then spent a day inside each condo taking detailed shots of everything.
Interspersed with tours of condos,“House Hunters” filmed Seidlova’s and Peres’ “confessions” of their impressions of each. However, also sticking to true to “House Hunters” style, the couple didn’t reveal their decision to the camera until the end, when they decided to go with Avalon.
“We like Avalon a lot because of its green spaces, and we really liked Santa Ana,” Seidlova said. The gated complex provides the security the couple was looking for as well as added benefits such as a pool, clubhouse and gym, and the price was right at $135,000.
“House Hunters” staged the signing of the contract at Jiménez’s house, and HGTV plans to come back at the end of this month to film the couple starting to move in.
Jiménez said that overall she had a great experience filming the show.
“It was an opportunity to show Costa Rica to people overseas and let them know about the market options here,” she said. “I wanted to show them that we offer good prices on good projects.”
“House Hunters” airs on HGTV, broadcast in Costa Rica on channel 61 for Amnet cable subscribers and channel 60 for Cabletica subscribers. The show will likely air some time during the middle of this year, Jiménez said.