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HGTV star Cristy Lee, a real estate and home renovation expert, is the host of the new TV show Steal This House. During the first episode, Lee tries to help a couple find their dream home for a low price so they can renovate it and make it their own. When the couple gets frustrated with the house hunt and almost gives up, Lee “teases” them and gets them to settle on a home they initially hated.

Cristy Lee helps a couple find their dream home

Cristy Lee stands in the middle of one of her renovation projects.
Cristy Lee | HGTV

Melissa and Tim are currently renting a house. Melissa says she rented the home six years ago, but she’s ready to become a homeowner. She wants to do things like change the backsplash and put up a privacy fence, but she can’t do renovations because she doesn’t own the property.

Melissa and Tim have been house hunting for three years and they’re growing frustrated. Their budget is $500,000, but they still haven’t been able to find a suitable home. “It’s crazy to us that a half a million dollars can’t get us something that ultimately we’re super happy with,” says Tim.

The couple is looking for a “modern mountain” home. They want open space, but they also want convenience. Lee says the couple only thinks they’ve seen everything.

According to Lee, they haven’t seen $200,000 houses yet, so they’ve barely scratched the surface. Lee says if they purchase a home under budget, they will have money left over to do upgrades and make the house their dream home.

Cristy Lee changes her clients’ minds with a little ‘tease’

Melissa and Tim weren’t thrilled with the first two homes they saw. Tim even jokingly said Cristy was fired after they saw the second home. One of the homes was on their “no” list because there was so much wood throughout the house. Each room had wood paneling and wood in every room. The kitchen was also very small and far away from the home’s entrance.

The couple was ready to give up their search. Tim called Lee and told her renovation wasn’t what they had in mind. Lee said she had one more home for them to see. It was finished and didn’t need any updates. Melissa was thrilled and said she loved the home.

The only catch was the house wasn’t for sale. It was one of Lee’s finished projects. “I don’t always tease clients with fully finished projects, but they’re not seeing my vision at all and I’ve got to get them on board,” says Lee during the show.

Lee showed them a home she renovated. She wanted Melissa and Tim to see what she and her team are capable of. Lee’s “tease” worked, and they decided to go with the house with the wood in all the rooms—a home they initially hated. You can see the results of the renovation during episode one.

What is modern mountain?

Lee asked Melissa to explain modern mountain design. “You’re looking for a modern mountain house; what exactly does that look like for you?” asks Lee.

Melissa clarifies it’s not all about having stuffed wildlife around the house. “There’s metal elements, there’s wood,” she says. “It’s not antlers and taxidermy.”

Cristy Lee on ‘Steal This House’

During the introduction for Steal This House, Lee says she built her first bike in her garage, and she likes fixing things. “When I got into buying houses, I wanted to know how to do everything, top to bottom,” says Lee. She says it’s easier to find the right house once you understand how the home was built.

Lee takes inexpensive homes that aren’t in the best condition and turns them into dream homes. She says, “I’m not looking for a bargain; I’m looking for a steal.”

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