Whenever I mention the popular HGTV series House Hunters, I get e-mails from readers asking, “Do you know the truth about that show?” I just got another one from someone saying, “I’m surprised more people don’t know how House Hunters really works. I was so mad when I found out!”
It’s actually not a secret–the show even explained it in a newspaper article a few years ago, but it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge. Here’s what it said:
For quicker turn-around, producers sometimes choose buyers who are already in escrow with one of the three locations shown. The other two choices that are filmed, are only shown to allow viewers the option of making the choice themselves.
Did you catch that? The house hunters aren’t actually house hunting in some of the episodes because they already bought one. The producers show them two other houses and they pretend to consider them. Then they pretend to deliberate, and pretend to choose the house that they already chose from the beginning.
Based on the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from people who have written to tell me that they know someone who was on the show and “faked it,” this must be a fairly common practice.
It makes sense from a production point of view. It prevents the problem that we see so often on HGTV’s Property Virgin, in which the house hunters don’t end up choosing anything at all.
According to that same article, the participants get only $500 for being on the show. I was surprised that they earn so little–especially if there’s acting involved! That was a few years ago, though, so maybe they earn more by now.
There can be long hours of filming each house–I heard that they often have to reenter the same room many times until they get it just right for the camera. (This explains why sometimes the sun is blazing when they enter the house, but it looks dark outside in later scenes.)
Update: A reader named Nate tells me:
It is still $500 for four full days if filming. Furthermore, it isn’t just sometimes fake – it is ALWAYS fake. I’ve just gone through this process. They won’t even consider you for the show unless you already have a purchase agreement signed, and have access to both your new home and your former home for the duration of the filming period.
Ever notice how the house the participants choose is almost always EMPTY when they walk through it on the show for that “first time” and the other two are still furnished? That is because they have already closed on the home they “choose” and just haven’t moved into it yet. The other two “non-chosen” properties are comparable homes found by the participant’s realtor just for purposes of the show.
Another thing I get a lot of e-mails about is Suzanne Whang’s absence. Have you missed her? I told you what happened to her in this post.
So there you have it–a few more insights into how one of HGTV’s most popular series works. Does it bother you that there aren’t always real decisions being made? I still watch, but now I try to figure out which couples are faking it!
More HGTV Behind the Scenes:
- Is Love It or List It Fake?
- What it was like to be on House Hunters
- The Truth About Designed to Sell