Mérida, Yucatán — Tim and Marsha Weaver, longtime expats from Montclair, N.J., are the faces of “House Hunters International’s” seventh episode set in Mérida.
Tim is a regional vice president for a health care company, while Marsha is a Realtor. They have lived in the United States after being expats for many years.
Along the way, they have worked and raised their family in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, China, New Zealand and Columbia.
“After all these places, Mérida, Mexico feels like home,” says Tim.
The couple tells us that the premise of the program, which airs in the U.S. on Thursday, is true to life. They are indeed interested in opening a bed and breakfast in the Centro.
“We’re looking at opening a B&B in the near future,” says Tim. “Having been expats for nearly 20 years in a variety of countries in Asia and Latin America, we were thinking about what we wanted to do when we move to Mérida full time. Opening a B&B made sense to us, as we could embrace the Mexican culture and offer hospitality and a sense of adventure with guests from around the world.”
The couple lived in Mexico City for several years, but chose to set down roots in Mérida for its “Mayan culture, colonial architecture, relaxed vibe, proximity to the white sands of Progreso Beach on the Gulf of México and famous ruins such as Chichén Itzá and Uxmal,” says Tim.
The public will find out which property they purchased when the show airs in the U.S. Thursday on HGTV. It’s scheduled for 10:30 p.m. EST, 9:30 Central. Canada and Mexico viewing times were not announced.
But we can assume their future guest house is close to the Centro Histórico’s highlights, which attracted them here to begin with.
“Santa Lucia Park, with its large variety of restaurants, where you can dine outside in the square and watch all the activities,” says Marsha, answering a question about her favorite spots. “Every Thursday evening there are free concerts and dances attended by locals and tourists alike.”
Marsha notes that anyone following their path of property ownership in Yucatán should possess the right temperament.
“Things in Mexico happen at a different pace than they might in the U.S.,” says Marsha “However, with a little patience and a lot of flexibility, you soon appreciate the truly warm and interesting people you will meet and work with, and all that you will begin to learn.”
The Weavers have two grown children, Kate and Zach, who are 23 and “on their own,” says Marsha. “They were born in Mexico City so have dual nationality and I’m sure will visit often. Our youngest, Duncan, was born in Argentina and is now 19 and a student at the University of Rhode Island. He is looking forward to summers in Mérida soaking up the sun!”
The pair is guided by Mexico International senior agent Keith Heitke, who by now is a familiar face on HGTV.
“This is my third shoot with ‘House Hunters International,’ one of my favorite shows!” Heitke says. “Tim and Marsha Weaver were so fun to work with, they’ve lived all over the world and speak excellent Spanish so they were very far along. They also knew more or less the type of home they wanted, although they had some differences of opinion of finished versus a house needing remodeling. The crew is amazing and work together so seamlessly, I can’t imagine how they mobilize all over the world to produce these shows in such different places.”
An 8th episode?
“House Hunters International” Executive Producer John Bertholon says that even after seven episodes, they haven’t exhausted Mérida’s “infinite world of possibilities.”
So an eventual eighth Mérida episode is in the realm of possibility.
“It never gets old,” says Bertholon, who remembers HHI’s first shoot here nine years ago — before the Centro housing boom.
“The housing stock — you could get a lot for the money,” Bertholon says. “High ceilings, beautiful courtyards, that was one of the things that attracted us. Now, the prices must have doubled since 2009-2010.”
In 2009, the show’s very first Mérida house hunter spent $60,000 USD on a modest fixer, and toured homes priced no more than $170,000. She also renovated with a budget of $50,000 and a timeline of two months, at least according to the plot line.
“I am really feeling my ‘senior sales agent’ years by seeing all the changes that have happened to the historic center of Mérida through 14 years of selling here,” says Heitke. “Tim and Marsha and their family will be a great addition to Mérida.”
The Weavers brought with them a budget of $450,000 USD — and grander plans than we saw back in the city’s initial episode in 2009. But no matter the budget or location, HHI has a formula of telling “aspirational stories” centered on people who want to “shake up their lives, looking to be happy,” says Bertholon.
The shows recreate a scaled-down home-buying experience. Buyers stroll through three properties, make observations and comparisons, picking one in the end, sometimes without even going through a change of clothes. Episodes are shot after the buyers already bought a home, but viewers are in on the formula.
Production company Leopard USA is on the hunt for a locale that “pops” on the screen. From the people they feature, they look for a “relationship story” — either with a couple, or a single person shopping with a friend.
Finally, the entire “House Hunters” franchise has a “game-show element,” says Bertholon. The half-hour show lays down clues throughout, concluding when dramatic music swells and viewers are invited to guess which home they will choose.
For their crew, Yucatán is a pleasure to work in, Bertholon says.
“It’s convenient to do stories there,” he says. “Everything is right there, hotels, restaurants … and everyone is super friendly. It’s a really pleasant place to shoot.”
“Who wouldn’t want to own a home there?” Bertholon adds.