How Homebuyers Jeremy & Jenna Prepared To Ace House Hunters - Exclusive Interview

Buying a home can be challenging to navigate, especially if you're doing it for the first time. Watching shows like HGTV's "House Hunters" makes it seem like it's a streamlined process, but viewers often know the difference between a 30-minute show and real life.

While "House Hunters" starts with people searching for a home and ends with them moving into their dream houses, there's a lot more preparation that goes on before the cameras begin filming. Jenna and Jeremy Garey, who are featured on the latest episode of "House Hunters," spent the months leading up to their house search ensuring they would get the house that best fits their needs.

As if moving to a brand-new place wasn't overwhelming enough, the couple was new to Colorado. They were motivated to get out of their tiny apartment, but they didn't want to choose the wrong home. In an exclusive interview with House Digest, Jenna and Jeremy Garey told us how they prepared to purchase their house and shared a peek at the exciting plans they have for their new place.

Preparation made all the difference

Can you tell me about the home-buying process? Were there any challenges that you faced?

Jenna Garey: Being new to Colorado, it took time to research and explore different towns and cities to see where we'd fit best. [I] didn't want to rush the process and hurry into a wrong decision, so the challenge was maintaining patience and sanity while living in a 700-square-foot apartment.

Jeremy Garey: It was a bit overwhelming searching for a home. Should we build? Buy new construction? Find a home that needs work? Colorado has many larger towns with shopping, restaurants, and things to do close by, but there [are] also smaller mountain towns that have tons of charm and privacy. Choosing a location that offered both privacy and access to amenities was difficult.

What was the preparation process like leading up to purchasing your home?

Jenna: Preparation was driving through areas we thought may work for us, calculating how far a drive from our work location was acceptable to us, and determining [a] budget — where did we want our money to go? Was a higher property tax worth it, or did we want more house? Did we want to wait longer to build and create our dream home? We had to see what each of our priorities were.

Jeremy: We had many discussions about what our ideal home would be, and then it came time to scout areas. On our days off, we would take drives throughout Colorado, looking at different areas that we felt were reasonable distances from our jobs. We kept a mental list of the areas we felt were ideal and crossed off those that had rural town horror movie vibes.

The home-buying process can be full of surprises

What were you looking for in your home? Were you surprised by anything during the process?

Jenna: I wanted an open floor plan, [a] yard for the dogs, and an extra bedroom or two for family to visit. I was usually drawn to older houses and willing to make modifications. I was surprised at how much I came to appreciate a more modern build for its simplicity. Although lacking charm, there was something calming and freeing about the modern aesthetic.

Jeremy: We both wanted an open floor plan. I love Colorado for the mountains, and I really wanted a property with a mountain view. I gravitated toward modern-style architecture. I absolutely needed a house large enough so that I could have a room solely dedicated to making music and displaying my guitar collection. A basement was preferable to me, but I was surprised [by] how many homes we found that did not have basements.

How did you develop your must-have list? Any tips on compromising so both parties are happy?

Jenna: In my mind, I prioritized a list [of] my needs in a house, wants, dream ideas, and things I'd be willing to compromise on. It's helpful going into discussions realistically knowing that comprises are inevitable and finding one house with everything you'd like is highly unlikely.

Jeremy: I kept my must-have list short and practical; this way, I wouldn't be disappointed not getting what I wanted because my list was too long and unreasonable. The best tip I can give couples looking for a new home is to temper expectations with reality. Compromise is key to happiness in the home-buying process.

The perfect home will take some time to find

Any tips from your real estate agent you can pass along to future homebuyers?

Jenna: Start with your list of needs and take the time to actually see [and] tour the houses that meet those needs first. A house may look good in photos, and the description might seem a good match, but you won't know for sure until you are in the house.

Jeremy: Tiffany, our real estate agent, told us not to decide a house is perfect based [on] the description or the photos because when we see it in person and it's not as we imagined, we might try to make it fit and settle on a home that really isn't right for us. She also stressed that patience is key, and when you walk into the right house, you will know it immediately. Wow — was she ever right with that advice!

Are there any projects you're excited to tackle in your new home?

Jenna: The new build is pretty spot on, and I'm enjoying not having to change, paint, or remodel anything. The yard, however, needs love — I'm thinking [a] greenhouse, patio, outdoor kitchen, and ... a pool.

Jeremy: Adding a large garage with a workshop is top priority for me because [of] Colorado winters. I want to expand our outdoor space to be more usable as the property is steeply sloped. A hot tub is a must-have in the mountains, so that might be the second addition after the garage.

Jeremy and Jenna's episode of "House Hunters" airs September 27. Catch new episodes of "House Hunters" at 10 p.m. on HGTV.

This interview has been edited for clarity.