Elyssa Lassiter used to say that when the time came for her to buy a home, she wanted the experience to be on HGTV’s “House Hunters.”
Tuesday night — surrounded by friends, family, co-workers and members of their church — Lassiter and Haneef Abdur-Razzaaq of Newport News watched the search for their first home on the show on televisions at a Buffalo Wild Wings.
Lassiter said she doesn’t watch much TV, but when she does, HGTV is one of her favorite channels. The couple has watched “House Hunters” for years.
“I was definitely grateful that they chose us out of all of these families that apply for the show every day,” Lassiter said.
Lassiter never expected to buy a home in Newport News. She is from Mississippi and Abdur-Razzaaq is from Texas. She’d never even been to Virginia until after she was married.
Abdur-Razzaaq’s job in the Navy moved the couple to Portsmouth, and while he was deployed, Lassiter went home to Mississippi to wait for him to return.
After his deployment, the couple started renting a home in Newport News. He works aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, which is docked at the Newport News shipyard.
When they decided they were ready to be homeowners, “House Hunters” gave them the opportunity to explore parts of the city they hadn’t been, Lassiter said.
The couple was looking for a home with a first-floor bedroom that would be accessible for Lassiter’s mother. The pair also wanted a fenced-in backyard for their dogs, Happy and Serendipity, and a place where Abdur-Razzaaq could grill. They also were keeping in mind the ancient rules of feng shui.
"I don't follow it to a T, but I do like to keep it in mind because the flow of your house is important," Lassiter said. She said she wanted to be mindful as the couple made the decision to buy a home.
Feng shui is about balance and harmony, said Bonnie Primm, a certified feng shui practitioner in Hampton Roads who was brought in to consult on the couple’s purchase. It’s about lighting, color and placement.
“You have to feel it and you have to see it,” Primm said. “The only place you really have control over it is in your home.”
The couple settled on a two-story traditional home in the northern part of the city near Fort Eustis. Abdur-Razzaaq has about a 20-minute commute to the shipyard.
Two other homes they toured on the show with real estate agent Jason Cowles were a town house and a single-story ranch. Their budget was $200,000, and they said they purchased the house for $197,000.
“(Living in Newport News) has been a good experience,” Lassiter said. “There are lots of fun things nearby. It’s a bit of a challenge being so far from my hometown, but I’ve really been able to get plugged in and the community at church and our neighborhood.”
The debut of their “House Hunters” episode also gave Lassiter the chance to see her mother smile again.
Her mother passed away about a month ago; she was cared for by the couple for about nine months. Lassiter said when they picked the home, they weren’t expecting her to live with them.
Lassiter’s mother’s appearance on the show was met with cheers and smiles.
“I was concerned I was going to burst into tears, but I was just filled with joy and happiness,” Lassiter said.
“She looked really great,” Abdur-Razzaaq said with a smile.
The couple recalled telling stories and laughing with her on the day that portion of the episode was recorded.
Lassiter called the show a “really fun experience.” She said it made them feel special to have the crew come from all across the U.S. to tape their episode.
“Me and my husband felt very good to be a part of this,” Lassiter said. “We thought we would feel maybe kind of nervous, but they (the production crew) helped us feel very comfortable.”