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Local couple, Realtor set to appear on HGTV

Feb. 17, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

If you have ever wondered how people get picked to appear on a reality show, just ask Brad and Lyndsi Harvey. The St. Albans couple who were looking for their first home to buy, applied in late August to appear on "House Hunters" on the Home & Garden Television Network.

Through a phone interview and a video presentation, they convinced the producers of the show to film their house hunting experience. The episode will appear at 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, and again at 1 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, on the HGTV network.

The Harveys, youth pastors at Kings River Worship Center in St. Albans, had moved into Lyndsi's parents' home in St. Albans after moving back to West Virginia from Pittsburg in early June. They had been working with real estate agent Rita Morris-Griffith, from Coldwell Bankers Advantage in Hurricane, who had been showing them houses in their price range. In addition, the Harveys had been watching House Hunters on a regular basis to get an idea of what they wanted in a house.

"We knew we wanted to buy a house, but we didn't want to rush it. We watched HGTV to figure out what we were looking for," Lyndsi Harvey said.

One day in late August as they were watching an episode of House Hunters, Lyndsi decided to get on the show's website. One tab said "HGTV-searching for people to be on it." Lyndsi was excited at the possibility of being on the show.

"Oh my gosh, we should fill it out," she told her husband, although she didn't think there was much chance they would be picked.

"Not in a million years," she said. Still, she filled out the application that asked questions about their budget and the type of house they wanted. She also wondered if the producers even replied to everyone.

"I kind of forgot about it," she said.

A week later a producer sent an email and asked her and Brad to do a phone interview.

"I was shocked they even replied to our application," Lyndsi said. "They asked similar questions such as why we were buying a house," Lyndsi added.

Their Realtor, Rita Morris-Griffith was also asked to do a phone interview. She said she wasn't nervous; she just wanted to do as well as possible in order to further the Harvey's chances.

"I was skeptical about them choosing this area for a show. I wanted to make sure I did the best I could," she said.

"They asked questions about the area, and my background in real estate," said Morris-Griffith, who has 30 years experience as a real estate paralegal working in loan closings and doing title searches and has spent the last two years selling real estate.

"They asked what I liked about working with Brad and Lyndsi and I said, 'I love working with young, first-time buyers and being part of this exciting time when they buy their first home,'" Morris-Griffith said.

A few days after the interviews, both the Harveys and Morris-Griffith were asked to send in videos. The Harveys had to tell the producers why they believed the producers should choose them and West Virginia.

"We had to talk about ourselves and the area," Lyndsi said. She said she mentioned that West Virginia was not always portrayed fairly, and she would like people to see it as a good place to live.

Their Realtor's video was a little different. She had to demonstrate how she showed a house, which she accomplished by presenting her own home.

The producers told the Harveys and Morris-Griffith the videos had to go through three levels of producers to be approved. After each level the couple and their real estate agent received an email stating they had passed each particular level. Finally, in late September they received the email they had been waiting to receive.

"You are officially an HGTV star," the message read.

Morris-Griffith and the Harveys then had to pick three houses to tour on the air. Coincidentally, they picked the same ones. Morris-Griffith also had to get permission by the owners to show those houses on television.

"The owners were excited -- they were great. No one had a problem with it," she said.

Shooting for the program began the first full week of October. One of the things that surprised all three was that House Hunters takes a week to film, and they spend a full day on each house the couple will be considering.

The first day the crew, which included Director Kathryn Douglas from Los Angeles, Cameraman Greg Verspohl of Denver, and Soundman, Steve Schmidt who is local, was spent with Brad and Lyndsi at the home of Lyndsi's parents, Ron and Phyllis Crum in St. Albans. The Harveys and Morris-Griffith were interviewed and the crew filmed the Harveys' area of the house.

The next three days were spent at the three houses selected to tour. Filming, both women found, had some surprises.

"It takes an entire day to film one house," Lyndsi said. Nor does the crew say much about the way one should look.

"You are on your own. They don't tell you what to wear, how to do your hair or makeup. They just told us not to wear bright colors or small patterns. They said on camera it looks distorted," Lyndsi said.

In addition, the show is not scripted.

"They don't tell you what to say," she said. Lyndsi explained that she might comment on the hardwood floors and the windows. The director might say, "That was good; do it again," because with only one camera, the scene would have to be shot from more than one angle. On Tuesday evening, the director and cameraman went with the Harveys and their friends to Pies and Pints. Lyndsi said they wanted to show the couple interacting with friends while also showing the community they live in.

After touring the second house on Wednesday, the crew attended church where the Harveys are youth pastors and licensed ministers. In order to participate in the filming, one had to sign a release form -- 100 forms were signed by church members.

"Yeah, they were excited," Harvey said.

On Friday, Morris-Griffith took the director and cameraman on a tour of the area.

"I took them to different parts of the state such as Kanawha Falls, Hawks Nest, New River Bridge -- we stopped at several overlooks in the state. It was very pretty. They loved it. They were very impressed with the beauty of the state. Neither Douglas or Verspohl had ever been to West Virginia," Morris-Griffith said. They ate lunch in the Cathedral Café in Fayetteville.

The crew also enjoyed their time in St. Albans.

"They loved the people. The director posted on facebook that some of the nicest people she had ever met were in St. Albans, West Virginia," Morris-Griffith said. They were also surprised at the value of the housing in West Virginia.

"They were totally amazed at the quality of houses and neighborhoods," she said. On Friday evening they attended a St. Albans High School football game with the Harveys.

On Saturday morning, the cameraman filmed Lyndsi as she taught one of her Zumba classes, and then the rest of Saturday was spent showing the house they picked.

The most surprising thing the three learned was how much goes into a half hour show. The crew filmed about 10 hours each day over the six-day span.

"It's a long day and a lot of work for the director, the cameraman, and the soundman. Most of us don't realize how much work goes into a 30-minute program," Morris-Griffith said.

Morris-Griffith believes the show will give the audience a good impression of West Virginia.

"I feel this will put a more positive light on West Virginia -- on our people, community and state," she said.

Both the Harveys and Morris-Griffith said it was a great experience being on House Hunters.

"I loved the experience. I loved the crew-they felt like family about half way through the week. They were great people, and I have stayed in contact with them," Morris-Griffith said.

Lyndsi Harvey said the crew from House Hunters was very friendly and relaxed.

"They were very personable -- really pleasant and easy to be around. The producers make you relaxed. Their goal is to make you look good s to make us look our best. Also to make West Virginia look nice as well," she said. "It was a wonderful experience."

Friends thought the Harveys would have a premiere party and watch the show with a large group, but Lyndsi said she is watching the show with her grandmother, Marie Crum, who will be celebrating her birthday on Feb. 27.

"It's my grandmother's 91st birthday. I'm going to spend it with her," she said.

Rita Morris-Griffith of Coldwell Banker, Advantage Real Estate can be reached at 304-550-8550 or ritamgriffith@aol.com.