Cape Cod To Appear On HGTV's "House Hunters"

West Falmouth realtor Donna Sawyer speaks on camera as a film crew from HGTV's
Donna Sawyer - West Falmouth realtor Donna Sawyer speaks on camera as a film crew from HGTV's "House Hunters" records her comments.

Watching oneself on national television can be both a nerve-racking and exciting experience.

It is these range of emotions that realtor Donna M. Sawyer of Sotheby’s International Realty in West Falmouth, and her clients Andrea and Steven Fein and their 16-year-old daughter, Julia, have as they count down the hours until the clock strikes 10 tomorrow evening. That is when the four will see how six days of filming in August and September, in Newton and Falmouth, were edited down to a half-hour episode of the HGTV show “House Hunters.”

The Feins appeared on the show thanks to Ms. Sawyer’s love of “House Hunters,” in large part because it pertains to her career and allows her to watch how others throughout the world navigate the home-buying experience.

Roughly six years ago, Ms. Sawyer had applied unsuccessfully to be on the show through a client who happened to know one of its producers. Fast-forward to last year, shortly after meeting the Feins, who were looking for a summer home in Falmouth to go along with their year-round one in Newton. Ms. Sawyer mentioned to the family her failed attempt at being on the show to which they responded they would be willing to apply with her if they found a home they liked.

Toward the end of May, they followed through on their promise and submitted an application to be considered on “House Hunters.”

This time there was no rejection for Ms. Sawyer, who was selected along with the Feins to be on the show after a series of separate phone interviews and individual video submissions were enough to convince producers they were a perfect fit for the HGTV series.

"House Hunters" Not Reality

Although “House Hunters” has the appearance of being a reality show, it is anything but. Before taping even begins couples or families looking for a home have already selected the one they plan to buy.

So before crews arrived in August, Ms. Sawyer had to find two additional homes in Falmouth that were similar in price range and to what the Feins had wanted. The three homes to be showcased on Thursday include a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom Cape listed for $595,000 on Lucerne Avenue, Falmouth Heights; a four-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape listed for $629,000 on Stowers Street, Maravista; and a three-bedroom, four-bathroom Cape listed for $699,000 on Green Pond, East Falmouth.

Of those, Ms. Sawyer said, one is still available for purchase, while the others have been purchased, including the one the Feins bought.

A small “House Hunters” crew initially shot one day’s worth of scenes of the Feins in their Newton home in August before coming down to Falmouth to shoot the family and Ms. Sawyer perusing the three homes on three successive days. In September, a crew returned for two final days to shoot the reveal in which the Feins divulge which home they decided to purchase and why, along with scenic shots of Falmouth, including Nobska Light, Woods Hole and the Feins kayaking and bicycling in town.

Though both Ms. Sawyer and the Feins enjoyed the taping—especially Julia, who has dreams of one day becoming an actress—there is a sense of trepidation on what tomorrow holds for them.

One Quiet; One Boisterous Celebration

And for that reason they have different plans on how they will celebrate the occasion. 

The Feins intend to watch it quietly in their Newton home with only a few of Julia’s friends. There have been no major announcements to family or friends, Ms. Fein said, as they want to keep it as low-key as possible. “For me and Steve, we are nervous about how they cut it and what it will come out like,” Ms. Fein said. “I’ve only told family so far. If it’s not embarrassing and if it is fun, we might have a bunch of people over one day later one when it is more convenient.”

The episode will have somewhat of an emotional connection to the Feins, as it will most likely include shots of Sonny, a Jack Russell-Bichon mix, who died shortly thereafter at the age of 12. “It will be a chance for Otis to see Sonny,” Ms. Fein said, of their newest member of the family, a 7-month-old terrier they adopted through the MSPCA in Boston.

Even with all the extra attention that came with purchasing their home, Ms. Fein said, she and her family are truly delighted to have purchased in Falmouth. “We really love it here,” she said. “We love being near the water. We love Woods Hole. We love Main Street. We just like the feel of the place. Once we get over the bridge we always feel relaxed.”

Sawyer To Be Joined By Friends

Here, on the other side of the bridge, the scene should be a bit livelier tomorrow evening, as Ms. Sawyer has invited close to 85 people, including her husband, Peter M. Sawyer, to watch the episode at Landucci italia on Main Street. Although her son, Ryan Messenger, lives in Denver and will be unable to attend, Ms. Sawyer is hopeful that her two younger children, Heather and Haley Messenger, who both live in the vicinity of Newport, Rhode Island, will.

Much like the Feins, Ms. Sawyer has similar reservations about what to expect when the episode finally airs. “I’m excited, but also worried that I won’t come off that well,” she said. “And I know the buyers; Andrea is worried about the same thing.”

Even though there is a fear of being embarrassed, she said, “I’m pretty much of an extrovert so I’ll probably take my chances. I’ve waited a long time for this to come and I’ve wanted to do it for years and it is finally here. I think it would be disappointing to watch it with just my husband in my living room together. Whether I make a fool of myself or not, my friends will be there and we can all laugh about it together.”

In terms of her career, Ms. Sawyer said, she is hopeful the “House Hunters” experience will help her in her work, though she has no real expectations whether that will happen. For her, a true “House Hunters” junkie, being on the show is a reward, in and of itself. “It is really exciting,” she said. “Just today I was buying paint and I asked the man if he ever heard of ‘House Hunters.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, I watch it.’  So I told him I was going to be on it Thursday. He was so excited for me he shook my hand and congratulated me and said, ‘I shook the hand of a TV star.’ I told him, ‘Not until Thursday.’ ”


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  • andrea

    It was a lot of fun. Only because we all LOVE Donna would we agree to do this very time consuming and often crazy-feeling project. Just as we enjoyed our initial house hunt with Donna, the shoot was full of laughs. Looking forward to good times in Falmouth, and with Donna , for years to come. I'm pretty sure only Julia will continue to appear on stage and screen!
  • danimal79

    I thought all of you did a great job! I was flipping by looking for something to watch and saw House Hunters was on Cape Cod with a couple from Newton. I was so excited because we lived in Newton for a long time (met at BC) and my parents live in Chatham (actually bought their summer home when I was 18 and ended up retiring there about ten years later). Your daughter seems so sweet (our daughter is also named Julia..though she is only 2). I bet you will be able to enjoy your future grand-children at the beach and on the water the way my parents will have so many wonderful family memories! And Donna, you seemed like a great realtor..I hope you do increase your business from the show. Congrats!
  • luckylindyo

    I saw this episode a few days ago and am convinced that one of the houses in the search was a house my mother built. I would love to somehow get a copy of this episode so I can show it to her. Unfortunately I was out of town when I saw it and was unable to tape it.