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You know a House Hunters couple is going to break up when...

Sarah Aswell is a freelance humor writer who lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and two kids. Her words have appeared in places like The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Hairpin, and more.

Can you spot when a House Hunters couple is moving to Splitsville?

The coolest thing about House Hunters is that you get to follow a family on their journey to buying a new home, whether it’s a snug studio apartment in Chicago or a rambling ranch in Wyoming. The second coolest thing about House Hunters is getting a very weird window into a couple’s relationship, all through the extremely stressful lens of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on place where you will permanently live.

Sometimes, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling while watching the couple interact, during which you can just imagine their new house filling with children and then grandchildren or else with lovely dogs or perhaps even wily ferrets, the happiness of their love spilling over from years into decades. But other times, all you can do is hope that the housing market in their area improves over the next five years so that both people can afford to get a pretty nice two-room apartment when they sell the house as part of their divorce settlement.

Can you spot when a House Hunters couple is moving to Splitsville?
Image: Awful People on House Hunters

What are the five biggest red flags that a House Hunters couple might be moving to Splitsville?

They have starkly different visions for the bonus room

Oh, the bonus room. So much potential! So many possibilities! So awkward when one person wants it to be a nursery and the other person wants it to be a home office! From the moment the realtor opens the door and makes a comment about the south-facing windows, you can see Mike placing a crib in the corner with his eyes and Carey taking mental measurements for her solid oak desk. “Wouldn’t this be a wonderful room for the baby,” Mike will ask. “Whose baby,” Carey will respond curtly. “Maybe a guest room,” the realtor will quickly posit while physically pushing everyone back out into the hallway. The realtor surely knows the truth, but she also knows it isn’t her truth to tell.

Someone has a collection

Sometimes I think an episode is going really well for a couple until I hear, “I love everything about this house, except that I don’t see a super-great place for my grand pianos,” or “Wouldn’t this wall be perfect for my hutch of offensive salt and pepper shakers?” No, you won’t be spending the rest of your life with someone who has a collection. They are obviously already partnered, and it isn’t with you. It’s with gramophones or baseball cards or antique door hinges. It might be difficult for you to hear, but they are more concerned with finding a display shelf for their creepy dolls than with your solitary request for a house with a little porch. The only advice I have is to try to get half of their collection in the break up and sell it on eBay.

They choose the haunted house

Whoops, big mistake, House Hunter couple. Sure, you might save a few thousand dollars by getting that turnkey bungalow built atop an ancient burial ground, but you are going to pay for it later when your relationship is terrorized by ghouls. I recognize that living in a haunted house brings a small number of couples closer together, but most are torn apart, sometimes literally. You should have settled for that unhaunted end-unit condo where all of the lawn maintenance was included in your HOA. But you just had to have that bungalow.

Can you spot when a House Hunters couple is moving to Splitsville?
Image: Giphy

Someone keeps insisting that a fixer-upper will be easy

Someone, usually a guy named Craig, will insist from the opening credits onward that fixing up a dilapidated heap of rotting garbage will be a breeze. “I watch house-flipping shows on HGTV, and it is really easy,” he’ll say, dismissing the fact that the house they are touring has a teeming ant hill where the kitchen should be. “We’ll just eat off paper plates for a few weeks and hold umbrellas over our heads when it rains.” You will be able to see that Craig’s wife, Annabelle, knows he is wrong, but also that she wants him to find out for himself, painfully, over a series of months. She also knows a cute general contractor. Don’t look for this couple on House Hunters: Where Are They Now? because they are busy deleting their honeymoon pictures from Facebook.

Can you spot when a House Hunters couple is moving to Splitsville?
Image: Giphy

They clash over tray ceilings

If anyone ever does a study on it, I am convinced we will find that tray ceiling disagreement is the second-leading cause of divorce after irreconcilable differences. Or perhaps having contrasting views about tray ceilings is the leading irreconcilable difference. “Aren’t these tray ceilings absolutely elegant,” Jason will ask as they enter the master suite. “I don’t get it,” Miguel will answer. “It’s just like the ceiling goes up a little and then over, and then up and over again. Like, why?” Later, after each time Jason and Miguel argue in bed, Miguel will gaze up at the tray ceiling in the darkness and think to himself, “I don’t get it. I just don’t get any of it.” 

The phrase “man cave” is uttered by anyone on the show, even once, in any context

Doomed.

They don’t pick a house with double sinks in the master bath

Totally doomed.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Can you spot when a House Hunters couple is moving to Splitsville?
Image: FayesVision/WENN.com
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