The Recorder – Greenfield home, Athol real estate agent featured on ‘House Hunters’

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GREENFIELD — Olivia Paras got to see one of her favorite shows from a different angle when she joined HGTV’s “House Hunters.”

The episode, “Family Basecamp in Massachusetts,” aired on May 17, and Paras, who works as a realtor at LAER Realty Partners in Athol, was featured in it as she worked to find a new home in Greenfield for Paul Garney.

Paras is a longtime fan who watched “House Hunters” while in college. When she saw that HGTV was seeking real estate agents to join an episode, she applied for the spot. When the episode aired, she held a watch party, sharing texts and photos with friends who also saw it.

Paras said “House Hunters” offered an accurate depiction of the selling process in her experience, with only some conversations about solar power — the Greenfield house has roof-mounted solar panels — and a showing of the finished basement not making the final cut. Paras said she was nervous during the filming process, so much so that she missed breakfast and lunch. After a few days, though, her apprehension lessened. Working with a small crew also made the process easier.

“I’m not an ‘in the spotlight’ kind of person,” she said with a laugh.

A former resident of Phillipston and Templeton, Garney moved to Georgia to be closer to his sister and family, but after six months, he knew the climate wasn’t for him and he decided to head back to New England. He is retired from the military, having served 29 years, closing out his career as a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. 

“I love the fall and love skiing in the winter,” Garney said of his decision to return to Massachusetts. “The heat is just … you can’t take it.”

Garney knew Paras well, as she helped find his homes in Phillipston and Templeton, and he felt a strong sense of trust working with her and the home inspector. After a few in-person visits didn’t lead to an offer being accepted, he saw other homes through video tours from Georgia, including the home he now lives in. Between that and his own research, he knew the house in Greenfield was perfect.

“I could get a good sense of the house and the layout,” he said.

Garney noted he fell in love with the Greenfield neighborhood of Sunset Square, a row of 1950s houses.

“The folks that redid this place, they had definitely put their heart and soul into it,” Garney said of his new house. “They didn’t cut any corners whatsoever.”

The extensive solar panels on the roof was a big selling point, he said, along with the redone farmers porch and outdoor kitchen. In the past, Garney owned a number of four-wheelers and motorcycles, but has since sold them, deciding that it’s people, not things, that are really important. Still, he likes the two-car garage, which holds his truck and will soon be home to a Honda CB1000R motorcycle in June.

“What was important to me was the area and the location,” said Garney.

The search process was fairly easy, according to Paras. The Greenfield home has plenty of space, as well as a redone kitchen. In the backyard there’s a putting green, hot tub, and expansive grill and patio area. Paras said Garney liked the property instantly and since there weren’t multiple offers, the sale went through quickly. She added the house had been on the market a couple weeks and they even got it under market price, ultimately paying $570,000.

“We looked at a couple of other places,” said Paras. “But they all paled in comparison to what he ended up with.”

Paras has been working in real estate for five years. Prior to this, she was a preschool teacher at Swift River School in New Salem, but her position was eliminated in 2018. At that time, she and her husband had just closed on a new home and found the process appealing. She’s always had a love for houses and joked that working in real estate allows her to check out other homes, something she enjoys doing.

Paras said the production company has asked if she’d be willing to work on another episode. Having the right buyer, she added, can make a big difference.

“I think it was really special that in our small town, something like this kind of came about,” Paras said. “I just think that’s the most special part about it is bringing that to our small area.”

Max Bowen can be reached at 413-772-0261, ext. 265 or mbowen@recorder.com.

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