The HGTV show House Hunters has visited many national and international spots, but, for the first time, it comes to Westchester. This time, with the help of Justin Pieragostini, 39, a Westchester resident and William Raveis Real Estate agent, viewers will be behind the scenes of the emotional decision that the Grskovic family had to face when they decided to relocate from Boston, Massachusetts, to Northern Westchester.
Westchester Magazine was able to chat with Pieragostini before the episode’s airdate, Wednesday, July 3rd at 10:00 p.m. EST, about his opportunity to star on the show and the process of making an episode, as well as his thoughts about Westchester’s diversity and real estate. (This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity purposes)
Westchester Magazine: Mr. Pieragostini, you have been active in the Real State business for the past four years. What did you see in the Grskovic family that made you present the idea to them to be on House Hunters?
Pieragostini: To get on the show is hard because you have to have the right person to do it. It’s a long process. In November of last year, this family came to me looking to move from Boston to Westchester. They have 5 kids, and they had a particular budget and needed to be close to the train station because they were moving here for work (in New York City). They were really likeable, so I presented the idea to them. They agreed to record their process and apply to the show. Home prices are more expensive than surrounding areas because it’s close to the train station and 40 minutes away from the city. Trying to find a house within a five-minute drive from the train station in a certain budget it is very difficult. Overall, their story connects with viewers because it is common.
Westchester Magazine: You said it is a long process, how long of a process is it?
Pieragostini: First, I had to apply in written form and explain the area: who lives around here and why the story was relevant. Then, I pitched to the production company who edits and produces the show. After the written application was approved, we had to submit a video to see how we all look on camer—explain the area and have short answers, no stuttering. They edit it down and send it to HGTV executives to be approved. It’s a big commitment because you have to do that 5 days in a row, and things can change at the last minute. There was a day that Steven could get the day off of work to see one of the houses and Megan had her sister, Jenna, with her instead. It was great because it threw a new dynamic in the process.
Westchester Magazine: You said you had to explain and tell the company why the area is relevant. What did you say about Westchester?
Pieragostini: The Katonah area is unlike any other. The town is old-world charm with lots of family businesses instead of boxed-out ones. It’s a community town and environment in which parks and recreational areas are very diverse. We have parades, volunteers at the fire department and the school system is good. It is a resident driven community. In the episode, I showed them Bedford, Mt. Kisco and Katonah. We passed by horse farms and Richard Gere’s restaurant. A lot of famous people live in the area, and they chose to live here because it’s a very dynamic community. Which other places offer country and urban so close to each other as well as a 40-minute commute to the greatest city?
Westchester Magazine: House Hunters has been around for a long time, what do you think about the show in the Real Estate point of view?
Pieragostini: House Hunters is a perfect success story. It is a very popular show because of, A: they pick and choose areas of the country and how it is to live there, and B: people who watch are home owners, or they want to get a new home, or they are preparing themselves to buy their first home. It really shows the steps, how much a house is in a certain area, the process that people go through to choose a home, and what the neighborhood has to offer. They also show a very, very obvious fact of real estate that is compromise. When you are ready to buy a house, you will have to choose what is best for you at the time and from the options available that suits your lifestyle. At one point, you’ll have to compromise being in budget, distance, or condition of the house.
Westchester Magazine: How do you see this opportunity?
Pieragostini: I’m very proud to be part of House Hunters and to show people what they didn’t know about Westchester. I think it will be very appealing to the ones who don’t know the area and more appealing to who live here already. The good news is they want to make another show with me. It will be an honor to be part of another episode. Let’s see how it all works out!