Searching for your dream home can be tricky, even more so when your realtor doesn't share your vision. Add in the fact that your realtor is also your mother and the search becomes even more interesting interesting enough to catch the attention of producers of HGTV's "House Hunters."
Eric Hillegass, a 2006 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School, and his partner, Patrick Bartscherer, were living in an apartment in Philadelphia after both graduated from Drexel University. Hillegass majored in film and video at Drexel and now works as a producer at Comcast Corporation's headquarters in Center City, Philadelphia. He produces content for the Sprout Channel, a 24-hour television channel for preschoolers and their parents.
Bartscherer is a native of the City of Brotherly Love. After graduating from college, he was hired by the chic apparel firm South Moon Under. A visual merchandiser, he is responsible for the dazzling window and interior displays at the firm's stores from Baltimore to New York.
The men were sharing an apartment, splitting the expenses and the $1,800 a month rent.
When Eric's mom, Kim Hillegass, co-owner of Charlotte Solt Realty in Tamaqua, heard what the young men were paying in rent, she suggested they consider buying a home instead. After considering all aspects, the men agreed it was a good idea and the search for a new home began.
"We couldn't see ourselves continuing to throw away so much money on rent," Bartscherer explained, "and we were anxious to have a place we could really make our own."
"Having a realtor you can trust makes all the difference ... and having one you can bother at all hours helps, too," offers Hillegass.
One little problem though, Hillegass and Bartscherer had their hearts set on something contemporary, something hip like a loft condo. Kim Hillegass's ideas were more traditional style homes, one of Philly's famous brownstones or a row townhouse.
One evening, while watching "House Hunters," the young men decided to fill out an application for the show, for kicks. Imagine their surprise when they were contacted by a show representative who told them their application was accepted. Now, how do they tell that to Mom?
A realtor for more than 10 years, Kim Hillegass and Tammy Swineburn were working for Charlotte Solt two years ago when Solt decided to retire after more than 30 years in the real estate business. The women decided to continue the Solt tradition and became co-owners of the firm. Since the firm is a Multiple Listing Service, Kim Hillegass felt confident in taking on the big city market. She wasn't quite so sure about being a "celebrity."
"It was a very interesting experience," relates Kim Hillegass. "Working with a producer from California, on a national television program, I admit I was nervous."
Filming began at her Breinigsville home, then moved on to Philadelphia. Some of the filming took place at the men's workplaces, to provide viewers with more background information. Although the filming process took several days, Hillegass and Bartscherer found their new home on the first day they started.
"Normally the buyers you see on the show don't make a decision as quickly as it seems, but for us it really was that fast," notes Eric.
Over the initial five days of filming, the group looked at houses/condos varying from the men's dream loft to Kim Hillegass's traditional brownstone, looking for something in the agreed upon price range. The experience was a success, as the video crew came back for a housewarming party.
Since the filming, Kim has watched several episodes of "House Hunters" and recognized some "aha" moments that explained just what the crew had been doing during the filming process. She is anxious to see the finished product, suspecting the producer might play up the mom versus son angle, especially after seeing the episode teaser on the network's website "Eric and Patrick are buying their first home in Philadelphia. This creative pair in their early 20s would like to transform their living space into something cool and unique, so a hip industrial-style loft with big open spaces and high ceilings would be the perfect place to call home. One problem: their broker is Eric's mother, Kim, and being a mom, she has other ideas about what kind of place they should buy. She'd like to see them in something more traditional, like a row home. Working with a $300,000 budget, who will win out?"
Who won the battle of contemporary versus traditional? Tune in to HGTV at 10 p.m. Nov. 22 for the answer. Either way, Kim Hillegass notes "the boys are very happy with their new home."