Real(ity) estate • Defining Homes

A Dallas couple’s adventure in house selling becomes an episode of HGTV’s ‘My First Sale’

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Keith Yonick, left, turned Dallas couple Troy and Cindy Hughes on to the idea of being on TV. But their youngest child, opposite, might steal every scene.

Although they live cosmopolitan lives — she’s a lawyer; he works for FM 105.3 with Chris Jagger — and count many gay neighbors in their gate East Dallas community among their friends, Cindy and Troy Hughes both grew up in small towns and craved the pace and benefits of the suburbs: lower taxes, good schools, safe streets. With a 4-year-old and a new baby, they figured next year would be a good time to look for a new home.

But the house-hunting started earlier than they expected. And more dramatically.

The Hugheses got a call from their real estate agent, Keith Yonick, with a proposition: Would they be interested in trying to sell their house now and have their experience filmed for the HGTV series My First Sale?

“When Keith called us and told us about the show, we went for it,” Cindy says.

“I think it’s great they chose Dallas for the show,” Yonick says. “I asked them why and they said because the houses are so different — they could film a townhouse in the city and a farmhouse in Forney or a suburban house.”

Yonick submitted four applications, and the network jumped at following the Hugheses. Still, it wasn’t the couple’s first foray into a reality series.

When Troy worked with Kidd Kraddick, he was recruited to be the “bachelor” in a radio rip-off of The Bachelor TV series. He was just supposed to chronicle his dates with several dozen women and invite one to a gala event. The one he selected was Cindy; they married three years later.

Still, a radio date is one thing; having yourself photographed 24/7 during a stressful process — the first sale of your home — was more pressure. Cindy even knows that on one day of filming, she came across as bitchy. (She’s hoping they edit that out, but Troy has forgiven her in any event.)
“We never treated it like a reality show but as a way to document this part of our lives,” Cindy says. “It was like making a home video.”

Knowing that “most houses take a year or more to sell” — Yonick says 370 days on the market is not unusual — they expected the process to stretch on for months, just in time for the next school year. So they were astonished that their house sold so quickly. In less than two months, they had a buyer.

Even so, the sale caught them so by surprise that they hadn’t even decided for certain where they would move.

“Our friends have all moved on to their next chapters — they were moving to Frisco and Rockwall.  They were always saying to us, ‘You have to move to Frisco!’ But we started looking in Wylie.”

It isn’t as far as it may seem. Troy leaves for work at 3 a.m. for his radio show (“I share the road with cops, construction workers and drunks,” he says) and Cindy’s job in Arlington meant she had a hike anywhere east of I-35.

“We thought we would move to Rockwall, but Wylie reminds me of what McKinney looked like when I came here in 1999,” Troy says. “We get more for our money out there, and there’s still a mall within four miles.”

Rather than buying an old house or going with a foreclosed property, they decided to build. Since the house won’t actually be ready until after they close on their sale, they’ll have to rent back their current house for a month. But as far as hardships go in real estate, that’s one they can live with.
“We got really lucky,” Troy says.

The Hugheses close on their sale on Oct. 29; their episode of My First Sale will air in the spring.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens