After making five failed offers on Pittsburgh-area homes over a year’s worth of time, Joy Kerrigan began to doubt if she and her new husband Tim would ever find a place to call their own.
“We would fall in love with a house, and then we would find out the next day it was bought by someone else who made a cash offer,” she said. “It was always a huge letdown when we got the phone call.”
That is, until a reality television show provided some unexpected help.
After learning crews from My First Place—the HGTV series documenting the adventures of first-time homebuyers—were filming in Pittsburgh, a friend sent the McCandless couple a link to the show with the suggestion they apply to be on it.
Frustrated after yet another rejected offer, the Kerrigans, who limited their search to homes in foreclosure, spent the evening filling out the application. They received a call the next day, telling them they'd been selected for the program.
“I couldn’t believe they actually called us. I figured there was no way,” Joy Kerrigan said. “There were probably so many people who applied for this.”
For about six weeks in April and May, the show’s production crew tagged along with the Kerrigans as they explored different homes. Their episode, titled “Competing Against a Cash Bid,” airs at 8 p.m. tonight on HGTV.
Spoiler alert: Yes, they did find their dream home.
It is located on Balmoral Drive near the McIntyre Square shopping center.
“It’s neat to think, ‘Hey this is going to be on TV,” Joy Kerrigan said in anticipation of viewing the show.
Joy Kerrigan, 27, is a West View native who works as a physical therapist at Health South Rehabilitation Hospital in Harmar Township. Her husband, 26, grew up in Gibsonia and is now a full-time student majoring in electro-mechanical engineering at the Penn State New Kensington campus. Both were determined to find a home in a community north of Pittsburgh.
“For me, my whole family lives right around here, so I wanted to stay in the area,” Joy Kerrigan said.
A family member helped lead the couple, who married in August 2010, to their current home in McCandless while the cameras rolled. Real estate agent Matthew McKenna of Keller-Williams is Joy Kerrigan’s cousin.
“I felt family was really going to tell you what’s the real deal with the house,” she said.
Joy Kerrigan said she sent information to McKenna about the houses she and her husband were interested in viewing. The production staff followed as McKenna showed the couple the various residences, which presented unusual—and time-consuming— challenges.
Crews had to arrange lighting and different viewing angles in each room before the couple entered it. Once inside, the Kerrigans often were asked to repeat or expand on their assessment of a home for the cameras.
“That’s when it would get frustrating, when we had to do things over and over again,” Joy Kerrigan said.
Filming at even one location sometimes took as long as eight hours, Joy Kerrigan said. The couple also was asked to wear the same clothing to each venue so it would look as though filming all took place within the same day.
“I now realize why actors and actresses make so much money because, at the end of the day, it’s so exhausting,” Joy Kerrigan said. “Eight hours of filming might be two minutes on the show.”
Still, Joy Kerrigan said she wouldn’t change a thing about her experience. After all, she and her husband did end up buying their first place.
“It felt like home the first day we walked in,” she said. “I just knew we would be really heartbroken if we didn’t get it.”
Full disclosure: Editor AmyJo Brown is related to the Kerrigans. Joy Kerrigan is a cousin, and she wishes Joy and her husband the best of luck in their new home!