The 2016 HGTV Dream Home is located at 180 Utopia Circle on Merritt Island.
MELBOURNE, Fla. — When Rhonda Pavone, a sales associate with RE/MAX 200 in Melbourne, first got a call in April 2015 from a man saying he wanted a $1 million beachfront home paid in cash with an immediate close, she thought it was a prank.
“I called him back but didn’t think it was anything real,” she says. “I mean, that’s a Realtor’s dream phone call, right?”
But it was no joke. The call was from a producer for HGTV’s Dream Home. On the TV show, a home is purchased, renovated and given away in a sweepstakes to a lucky winner. The location of the 2016 Dream Home (which marks the show’s 20th anniversary) was Melbourne, Florida.
“When I called him back, he wanted to fly in the next day. But I had other appointments and was still a bit hesitant. He worked with my schedule,” laughs Pavone, who the producer found via her social media marketing. “He said I looked friendly and photogenic.”
Unfortunately, finding a suitable beachfront home in Melbourne wasn’t as easy as they both hoped. “Most homes were priced too high. Sellers on the beach don’t care about comps,” she says.
The producer was also looking in other areas, such as Fort Myers, Destin and Clearwater, but Pavone was adamant that she would find him the perfect home.
“He wanted an ocean-front house, but I realized there was another option – Merritt Island. I suggested we visit the area, which is a beautiful strip of land that sits between two rivers. As we were driving to the house, he told me it matched what he was dreaming about,” she says.
Then, he told her that she would be on the show.
“I didn’t know I was going to be in it. I thought I was just selling them the house. But, we did an HGTV House Hunters version first,” she says. “I was so surprised that the house most couples choose on that show is already sold to them.”
She was also surprised that nothing was scripted. “I know it’s a reality show, but I assumed some of it would be scripted,” Pavone recalls. “I was working with the show’s host Josh Temple, and he’s very funny. He does a lot of things off the cuff. I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or banter with him.”
She must have done something right because Realtor.com called soon after the HGTV show.
“They paid me to do a commercial for them. It was a lot of fun,” she adds.
Through the experience, Pavone says she learned one valuable lesson.
“Always listen to your clients, but don’t be afraid to suggest other options as they may find something even better than what they thought they wanted,” she says.
A lucky winner was recently chosen for the 2016 HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes: David Rennie, of Shelton, Conn., who decided to take the $1.2 million cash option rather than the grand prize worth $1.7 million. The 3,150-square-foot house now is listed for sale, fully furnished, according to Pavone.
The “HGTV Dream Home 2016” episode is slated to air on May 27 at 1 p.m.