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John Lamb, Published January 15 2014

Local 'House Hunters': An inside look at an episode filmed in Fargo, airing Thursday night

FARGO - As a real estate agent, Dirk Ockhardt is used to touring a number of abodes with clients helping them try to find just the right place to call home.

But he hadn’t seen anything like the search last summer when he helped KVLY news anchor Stephanie Goetz find a new residence.

What made the whole process different was that all of the showings were filmed. Again and again.

Ockhardt and Goetz are featured in an episode of “House Hunters” that airs Thursday night on HGTV.

The half-hour show follows Goetz as she looked for a two-bedroom, two-bath, move-in ready space between $150,000 and $250,000.

The two toured three places over two weekends in late June and early July, all with a camera crew filming each viewing. Each day was between 10 and 12 hours of shooting, with the single-camera crew recording multiple angles in each room.

Ockhardt likes to help a client find a new home in five showings or less, proving he understands what they are looking for.

He found the whole process fascinating as he grilled the crew about their jobs.

“I’m always asking lots of questions. I’m super interested in everything. It was a blast,” Ockhardt says, adding that the crew enjoyed their stays in town.

It was Goetz’s idea to get a film crew involved. A producer friend told her about the show and how it was put together.“For giggles I just said, ‘Why don’t we get in touch with them.’ And they loved my story and the ball just kept rolling,” Goetz says.

The 28-year-old says the producers liked not only that she was a young, single media professional looking for a new home, but that her personal story was so important in her search.

Last year she started the Stephanie Goetz foundation in honor of her brother Cam, who took his life in 2002 after struggling with depression. The foundation seeks to assist young people get the help they need.

Goetz wanted a place where she could host benefits for the foundation and entertain donors.

Abby Tow, the foundation’s executive director, accompanied Goetz and Ockhardt and also appears in tonight’s show.

“It was the most intense shoots I’ve ever done in my life,” Goetz says, referring to 10- to 12-hour days shooting with a number of different takes for each room.

Because of the microphones’ sensitivity, the air conditioning and even the refrigerators were turned off when they filmed.

“I learned that I don’t want to be an actor. It’s really exhausting,” Ockhardt says.

One of the biggest realizations for him was the amount of legal waivers and clearances protecting the crew from potential litigation they had to get before filming.

He’s heard that agents can see an uptick in calls after they are on “House Hunters,” but doesn’t think he’ll benefit much from the exposure.

“I’m actually scared of watching it. I have an accent, I’m weird,” says the German native. “I have no clue what this is going to look like. I think I rather scare people.”

He says he’ll likely watch the show Thursday tonight with his colleagues at Jack Chivers realty.

Goetz ended up picking a downtown Fargo condo.

Her new place was featured in a November story in The Forum.

“What she picked was an example of what I thought she didn’t want,” he says. “I was fairly surprised she picked that in the end.”

For Goetz, however, it was just right.

“I wanted a very unique place,” she says. “I wanted something that was so very different from everything else you see. Some place you walk in and there’s this sense of wow, but also comfort and home. I feel like I found that in my place.”

In 2011, Mary Aaland’s search for a Fargo home was featured in the show. Ockhardt said it was a different crew that filmed this episode.

‘House Hunters’

When: 9 Thursday night

Channel: HGTV

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533