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Posted on Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 5:30 a.m.

HGTV creates a real estate buzz

By Paula Gardner

Kathy Toth of Keller Williams Ann Arbor is looking for more clients who’d like to be filmed house-hunting.

Ren and Susan Snyder of The Charles Reinhart Co. use their television appearance to promote their business.

And Valerie Paladino still looks fondly back at the daylong filming that resulted in five minutes of footage that shows off her Chelsea-area lake home.

All four are among the local Realtors who can boast of their appearances on HGTV Network programs.

HGTV is a real estate voyeur’s dream channel, with endless programming showing people making real estate and decorating decisions.

The cable network is available in over 80 million U.S. homes, and its shows are popular among women and higher-income groups. Its Web site,, generates over 4.2 million unique visitors.

So for the local Realtors who’ve had a part of the productions over recent years, the experience still generates interest and “buzz” in the marketplace.

snyder ren susan.jpg
The Snyders showed off their home northwest of downtown on “What You Get For the Money.”

“We’ve had fun with it,” Ren Snyder said. “It’s pretty playful - they really left that tone in there … We do use it as marketing so clients get to see a little about how we operate and who we are.”

Viewers also got an eyeful of the couple’s home, a 1950’s contemporary that had just received a remodel and addition.

The pair showed off the new kitchen, the design that raised the ceilings but kept the design integrity and Ren’s guitar room.

The interaction between them was a big part of the production, too.

“A lot of the video was about us and our personalities,” Susan said.

It’s still fun for them to talk about with friends and clients, they said.

“We were really apprehensive about it ahead of time,” Ren said. “But it was pretty organic and pretty fun.”

Toth and two of her clients, Julie and Steven Wineman, appeared on “House Hunters,” which depicted their search for a four-bedroom home near Dexter.

“It was great exposure,” Toth said, adding that she’s been awarded two new episodes - so she’s seeking buyers who want to send in audition tapes with her.

It is a commitment, she said: Buyers don’t get paid, and they have to dedicate days for filming and be willing to go through wardrobe changes.

And the taping brings an element of acting into the equation. For example, room entrances may have been filmed several times from multiple locations, and each person on-camera would need to recall their position and be ready to keep the conversation thread going.

“It was a great experience because I had never been in a production like that before,” Toth said.

Paladino had an inside connection to her appearance on “What You Get For the Money.” Her son, Ryan Kelemen, worked for the production company.

But she didn’t get a lot of time to prepare, despite the inside connection. She got two weeks’ notice to prepare her lake home and David Kwan’s downtown house for the show.

“David and I went into the mad panic about what had to be done at both houses,” she said. “Most of the stuff (we did) didn’t even show up.”

She spent eight hours filming her lake house segment. Now that she rents the home, she uses that footage on her rental Web site.

She agrees with Toth that there’s a lot of time involved for the experience.

But the ongoing reruns keep the experience alive.

“As a Realtor, a lot of people saw it, so I got a lot of feedback,” she said. “I’m still getting emails from people who just saw it.”

-Paula Gardner is editor of Ann Arbor Business Review.

Photos, top and bottom: The Wineman family was filmed for "House Hunters". Middle photo: Realtors Ren and Susan Snyder