Your favorite HGTV show may be Canadian
To meet demand for home-improvement shows, the cable channel imports real estate programming from up north.
The 31-year-old Hillsborough, N.J., resident, like many Americans, is a devoted fan of home shows that have grown up on HGTV in the U.S. but were born in Canada. Currently, 11 shows in the cable network's weekly lineup have Canadian roots, more than on any other U.S. network. The Canadian shows are helping to fill strong demand for home and real estate programming.
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HGTV, based in Knoxville, Tenn., says three Canadian-grown shows — "Brother vs. Brother," "Property Brothers" and "Love It or List It" — rank among its 10 most-watched. According to ratings firm Nielsen, nearly 2.1 million Americans have regularly watched "Brother vs. Brother," and nearly 1.3 million Americans have watched "Love It or List It" this year, significant for a niche network though far below the 21 million viewers of a major network hit like "The Big Bang Theory."
"Love It or List It" ran for four seasons on the W Network in Canada before landing a spot on HGTV in the U.S. in 2011. Each hourlong episode follows homeowners through a renovation and house hunt, and suspense builds as they decide whether to "love" the newly renovated home or "list" it for something better.
The show's concept came out of executive producer Maria Armstrong's personal experience. Armstrong said she faced a "love it or list it" quandary when her twin boys reached school age. With her two-bedroom family home feeling crowded, she wondered whether to renovate the basement and add a third-floor master bedroom — or make the leap to a bigger place.
"It's a common dilemma," Armstrong said at a recent taping of an episode in Toronto featuring a couple who had purchased a small house 10 months earlier sight unseen, trusting online photos and family members who had walked through it.
"His parents assured them it was a perfect house," Armstrong said. "It's not a perfect house."
The co-hosts — and about a dozen crew members and their gear — squeezed into the 900-square-foot home for about four hours of taping to capture the starring hosts' first impressions of the house.
True to form, designer and show co-host Hilary Farr dubbed the small home "lovely," and real estate agent and co-host David Visentin called it "a disaster." There's no script, but there is a formula, and the two hosts do repeat their ad-libbed jabs and observations multiple times with various camera angles.
The show accepts applications from Toronto-area homeowners. At the recent taping, the homeowners had an $82,000 renovation budget — their own money — and had lender approval for a $900,000 new-home purchase.
The crew took pains not to cross each other on the stairwell as they set up downstairs and upstairs for each new scene. "Bad luck," Armstrong said. And little space.
"Love It or List It" has quickly built a large fan base — and a fairly high-profile one. Hillary Clinton called it her favorite program last year in a New York Times interview, calling the show "calming."
"Maybe that was a little international diplomacy on her part," said Kathleen Finch, president of HGTV and DIY, its sister network. "But I think it's because she's got great taste."
In the third quarter of this year, HGTV was the most-watched cable network among viewers whose household income exceeds $100,000, in the weekend, total day and primetime slots, according to Nielsen data. These viewers are highly prized by advertisers.
"Property Brothers," which features Canadian twins Jonathan and Drew Scott, is among the most popular shows on HGTV in the U.S. and the W Network in Canada.
The brothers, who now have three shows, this year were on the website BuzzFeed's list of HGTV's "15 All-Time Hottest Hotties." They have an assistant who "is kept very, very busy" answering fan mail, Finch said.
Content crosses the border in part because of relationships the U.S. HGTV network has with Shaw Media, which operates HGTV in Canada and a number of other networks. They co-produce shows, share content and license each other's programming.
New Jersey viewer Beniamini, a research director at Edison Research, said she likes the Canadian shows, which often feature Toronto real estate, because prices in the city more closely align with her own. "In New York or New Jersey, a small house with no yard will go for $400,000, and in South Carolina, you will get a five-bedroom, four-bath mansion with a pool for $250,000. That's frustrating."
Elsewhere in the U.S., however, Toronto home prices strike many Americans as "very, very high," Finch said. "So what we have to do is say 'This house is $800,000, which — for this neighborhood — is a fair asking price.' Because if you're sitting in a town in the U.S. where a house like that would be $300,000, you'd be sort of quietly gasping."
The median house price in Toronto, in U.S. dollars, is about $435,200, according to Canadian government data. Across the U.S., it's $203,500, according to the National Association of Realtors. "When we first started watching these shows and we saw those home prices, we kept saying 'Where in the world are they?'" said Tracey Allison, 45, an IBM program manager who lives in a suburb of Cincinnati.
As for Armstrong, whose dilemma inspired "Love It or List It," she "loved" her tiny two-bedroom Toronto home after the renovation and stayed there for five years. Then one day, a five-bedroom house with a big yard came up for sale right around the block. That's when she listed it.
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My fave is Income Property. Just wish the city where I reside would allow an apartment in my large and finished walkout basement. But I suppose the various high priced apartment buildings in the area need tenants... Sigh.....
Other faves are Property Virgins, and House Hunters International.... and one about finding an apartment to rent..... although some of the people looking to purchase or to rent get on my last nerves with some of them lowballing the seller trying to get something for very little money. So happy when the home seller turn down the offer. LOL
In love it or List it, it is time that some of these homeowners are told the truth, that you cannot expect to repair and rehab a whole house including new furnishings and appliances etc. on a 40 thousand dollar budget. Something gotta give....
Perhaps that is why I prefer Income Property because all the money goes towards converting the space into the new apartment, and does not include the furniture and the host teaches the new landlord to be how to repair and maintain the property.
Love Bar Rescue and also love Hotel Rescue when Blanche is the designer on the project. These programs are not on HGTV.
My pet peeve is when people buy heritage homes or very old homes and then mess it up with their 'Open Concept' nonsense, which used to be known as Great Rooms several years ago.
Perhaps these remodelers do not realize that it cost more to heat an Open Concept/Great Room house than a home with clearly defined rooms with doors that can shut off rooms keeping the warmth in, or be heated with a portable heater with that expensive whole house central heat turned down. Walls and doors also provide privacy and security, rather than the person at the door being able to see straight through to the back door also forcing the homeowner to try to keep the house pristine and tidy all the time, which is especially difficult with children in the home. Open concept is only good for small single level flats, apartments, and condos imo.
i prefer the canuck stuff to the American stuff (whatever is left of it on HGTV). well, not so much the
LIOLI. kinda like THIS OLD HOUSE used to be. HH or HHI are "champagne taste and beer
budget". lets face it... HHI seems a bit farfetched...Americans moving OVERSEAS to find a house.
some are noted to be "working for the home or subisidiary company" yet the homeseekers make no effort to find out what is available BEFORE they get there. bad planning.
but ..HGTV beats reruns of ROSANNE ..but NOT yan can cook.
How could you not know they were Canadian? It doesn't matter to me. I do miss the older shows that actually gave you ways to accomplish things. I don't know why everything has to be a competition. there are no gardening shows at all anymore except yard crashers, and Ahmad was way better at that than the guy now.
So, I don't watch as much as I used to.
All the people that have won design programs that have been cut out is not good.
I really enjoyed many of them. Antonio Kim just to name a couple. There were so
many that were only on during the day and then taken off. Why???? I liked the ones
that they did over for a much cheaper cost. Now it's all Canadian shows and they
are good but what about the ones made right here in the USA???
So this is news? I've been watching these shows for close to 2 years and knew, the first time I saw one of them, that they were from Canada! Don't people pay attention to the closing credits? Plus there are a lot of other shows that are Canadian based such as Mike Holmes and Bryan Baumlers (sp) programs.
So I ask again, this is news?
Canadian television and movie companies adhere more closely to the rules set up by the BBC.
They are so much cheaper than US productions since they don't have casts running a reality show.
You have one or possibly two stars, and these stars can easily cash in on their fame like Bob Vila and Rachel Ray did.
The Canadian networks do not accept the union contracts established in stone by Broadway or Hollywood executives who have more imaginative accounting procedures.
Lastly,they follow the lead of NASCAR and give abundant space to investors who provide the materials.