House Hunters: Pandemic

A busy couple looks for a new home to suit their, uh, changed needs

Jess and Garrett have lived in their current one-bedroom apartment for the last three years, but lately they’ve been finding —

[shot of a couple bumping into each other as they load the dishwasher]

— that small space isn’t working for them anymore. They’re looking to upgrade to a single-family home, and they’ve got different priorities than they did before.

JESS: I would like a home office.

GARRETT: I would also like a home office, but a different one from the one she is in.

JESS: Yes, I would like my home office to not have his home office in it.

GARRETT: Two home offices, at least.

They’re facing a tight real estate market in their city. Can they come in under budget, find all the amenities they want, and cope with an ongoing global pandemic their government is wholly unprepared or simply unwilling to deal with?

[doorbell sound effect]

[House Hunters theme music]

[shot of Jess sitting at a dining room table, working] 

JESS: I run a small independent executive consulting firm. It’s a demanding job. I’m on calls and conferences with clients all day, and I work from home.

[camera pans slightly to the left, where Garrett is also sitting at the dining room table]

GARRETT: I’m an entertainer for children’s parties. I, uh, also work from home. [he resumes working on a balloon animal, which he was already in the process of making] [he looks at a laptop screen] So you said you want a dragon, huh?

JESS: It’s been challenging for us. We loved our lifestyle—we’d like to stay close to this neighborhood, we love being walking distance from the restaurants and bars—

GARRETT: [not looking up from balloon animal] when they reopen, of course.

JESS: —yes, when the restaurants and bars reopen. But now that we’re both working from home, I think we need a little more—

[loud balloon pop]

GARRETT: Sorry.

JESS: —a little more space.

REALTOR VOICE: I think we’ve got some great options for you. 

[camera pans to another laptop, where their realtor is visible in a video chat window]

REALTOR: This first house is a little slice of suburban heaven, in scenic and desirable Meadow Park. It’s a three-bedroom, two-bath house, with just under 1,900 square feet of living space. The dining room is office-ready, and there’s a screened-in porch that’s also office-ready. As you can see on this video tour, the foyer has lots of light — it’s really a flattering place to hold video calls. The owner has put a standing desk in the foyer, and they’re willing to include it in the sale.

GARRETT: It’s a little further out than we’d hoped to be.

JESS: How long of a commute is it in to the city?

REALTOR: It’s about 40 minutes on a normal day, or 12 minutes right now.

GARRETT: I just don’t know if I want to drive that much every day. Also, the batteries in both our cars are dead. 

REALTOR: I understand that. So, our second option is an airy loft near the central business district. It’s got an open floor plan—

JESS AND GARRETT, in unison: No

REALTOR: I’ve been getting that a lot, yes, moving on. This next house is a little bit older, but it’s in a more established neighborhood closer to the city. It’s got a two-car detached garage which can also be used as a home gym, home office, or just a nice place to go and scream during the day.

GARRETT: Oh, I’ve been wanting a place to scream.

JESS: I’ve just been screaming in my dreams. 

GARRETT: I— I can hear those. 

JESS: [ignoring him] How big is the yard?

REALTOR: Now, this is a nice feature, actually. The lot is only a quarter-acre, but it’s very narrow and deep. You can get up to 74 feet away from the house without technically being in “public”. 

GARRETT: I’m noticing a patch in the back of the yard that appears to be a rug covered in leaves and sticks—is that hiding a secret hole?

REALTOR: You’ve got quite the keen eye. The previous owner put that hole in during a fit of rage after reading the news one recent afternoon. It’s eight feet deep with a rope ladder included. You can go down there to cry, or hide, or just think about how everything you loved doing has been ruined because people couldn’t just agree to wear a piece of cloth over their faces for like three straight weeks. 

JESS: Mmm, I could go into a full dissociative fugue out there.

REALTOR: [nodding in agreement] The hole also has strong wifi. That’s hard to get. 

GARRETT: The price is a little out of our range. I suppose we could cut a few things out of our budget — you know, skip meals out, concerts, sports tickets, vacations, that sort of thing.

[everyone laughs, then sighs deeply, and then it’s just silent for a solid 45 seconds of airtime]

JESS: It is a little dated, though.

REALTOR: I do have one more house to show you. Now, this house is well-loved. The current owners have been here for 15 years. They raised three kids here. The kids attended school here. This house has hosted three graduations, six weddings, a funeral, a major political party’s nominating convention, several concerts, an intervention, and a hastily-filmed reunion episode of Wings. It’s well-maintained, and many of the rooms have been recently updated — some of them two or three times just in the last four months! 

GARRETT: Wow, it’s really perfect.

JESS: How’s the neighborhood?

REALTOR: It’s a lovely neighborhood, very friendly. People will walk to the other side of the street if they see you coming, then wave at you from a respectfully safe distance. 

GARRETT: Any neighborhood gatherings?

REALTOR: None at all.

JESS: That’s terrific. And it’s is in our price range, too! 

GARRETT: I do have to ask, though — this house is so wonderful, and they’ve put so much money and care and love into it, why are the current owners leaving it at all?

REALTOR: Well, that’s interesting. They’ve decided to move to a remote tract of land in the wilderness, where they’ll completely cut themselves off from our failed society. They’ll be living in separate Airstream trailers separated by a half-mile of trail, and see each other only as much time each day as they both choose.

[Jess and Garrett share a look]

JESS: Do you have any more of these remote tracts?

GARRETT: Yeah, what can you show us in a hermitage?

Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)