House hunters across the country often dream of swapping the hustle and bustle of urban living for a slice of island paradise, or at least that’s what the Home and Garden Television, or HGTV, show “Island Life” leads viewers to believe.
And after filming in places such as Nantucket Island and Newport, Rhode Island, the show’s producers tapped into Windermere South Whidbey Realtor Louis Muniz to bring the channel’s viewers a slice of Whidbey Island.
“This show was not only a opportune moment for branding my real estate business, but also a great way to feature our beautiful island on national TV as a benefit to all of our local business owners,” Muniz said. “I think our community has a great sense of pride when it comes to living on Whidbey Island and it was a lot of fun for friends and family to see familiar locations showcased on such a large stage.”
Muniz scored two episodes with the show’s producers, one of which will premiere Sunday night at 7 p.m. The episode will air again at 10 p.m. Sunday, as well as Monday at 10 p.m.
It’s the second episode to air in which Muniz tries to find the right home for his clients, who are moving to Whidbey from Seattle. The first episode premiered on New Year’s Day. Both can be streamed on HGTV.com.
According to Muniz, Whidbey Island and his clients were the perfect fit for the show. Here were two couples looking to escape Seattle’s grueling traffic, having lived in downtown and the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood for the past several years, and take advantage of cheaper home prices, waterfront views and a slower pace of life.
In the first episode, Bonnie Chang and Craig Woehrle look for houses across the entire island. The episode premiering on Sunday features a couple, Jacqueline McLoughlin and Jay McLoughlin, who looked exclusively at homes on the South End. Both couples got their happy ending and are now island residents.
“We decided this was going to be a year of change for us,” Jacqueline McLoughlin said. “Everything happened so fast and before we knew it, we had a home on Whidbey. It has everything we wanted and more.”
Despite the potential distraction of camera crews and the low inventory of Whidbey’s housing market, Muniz was able to find both couples views of Puget Sound.
“This was a new arena for me, and talking in front of a camera was a bit nerve wracking for me,” Muniz said. “But my producers assured me that it was their job to make me look good. We had a laugh about that and all went well.”
The opportunity came about in December 2015 when HGTV producers based in New York City sent out an email to island-based real estate agents across the nation regarding their show idea. Muniz jumped on the opportunity, responding in the middle of the night shortly after receiving the email with a list of ideas and clients he thought would fit the show well.
A cross-country Skype interview followed, and before too long a 10-person video crew arrived to shoot Whidbey house hunting in July.
Muniz says other featured agents he’s spoken to say the exposure has been a boon for business. It’s too early for him to see an impact just yet, since the first episode aired only days ago.
He’s hopeful he’ll see a spike in business, and he could see more TV exposure soon. Muniz has been in contact with the show’s producers about potentially filming a third episode on Whidbey.
But Muniz says exposure and new customers was just one small part of his desire to do the show.
“The emphasis for me was to showcase the great community we live in,” Muniz said. “I grew up here on Whidbey Island, so it was a real thrill to represent our community and show it to a national TV audience.”