“House Hunters:” What It Was Like to Be On the Show

House Hunters on HGTV is Fake

When a reader named Bobi told me that her family was featured on an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters, I asked if she’d be willing to share her experience on the show and all the behind-the-scenes scoop with you. Here’s her story, in her words:

The Jensen Family

Hi, I’m Bobi! Our episode aired during a special Texas week, and the hosts were the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.  That might ring a bell for any faithful House Hunters watchers.

The producers said they found our (true) story–that we were getting a bigger house and turning our other one into a rental–boring and overdone.

So instead they just wanted to emphasize how our home was too small and we needed a bigger one desperately.  It wasn’t true, but it was a smaller house than the one we bought so I went with it.

However, when I re-watch the episode I cringe, since we have lived in an even smaller house quite comfortably!

They didn’t even “accept” us being a subject for the show until we closed on the house we were buying.  So then when they decided to film our episode we had to scramble to find houses to tour and pretend we were considering.

The ones we looked at weren’t even for sale…they were just our two friends’ houses who were nice enough to madly clean for days in preparation for the cameras!

When I watch other episodes of the show now I can usually pick out the house they were getting based on hair-dos alone.

There are certain filming days where they shoot your old house and your new one and then months later when they do the other choices and you all moved in to your new one….

My husband was a Realtor at the time, which was one of the reasons he agreed to do it: free advertising.

It was also a premise the producers thought was funny. They played up the whole “will his wife be his hardest client?” thing. Which was mostly true, because I LOVE houses and wanted to do lots of house hunting, but instead my husband could just weed them out and I only saw one or two because we quickly knew if something was a good deal financially.

My hubby hates “being fake,” so the fact that they had us do 5 or 6 takes on each scene drove him nuts.

He has since left Real Estate and now works as attorney, but we still look at the homes we live in as investments and remodel and sell!  It’s become a family hobby that even the kids enjoy.

“The Winner:” House #1

Thanks to Bobi for telling us her story! You can watch the episode on her blog Western Warmth and follow along with their home improvement projects. Visit my HGTV page for more scoop about your favorite home-improvement shows, including “Love It or List It” and “Fixer Upper.”

Julia signature 6


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  1. says

    Wow, you always think these shows are fairly staged – but not THAT much…touring friends’ homes to pretend they were actual possibilities is a bit of a let down. Boo on you, House Hunters :(

    • stephanie says

      Agreed! I always wondered why the conversations between these couples seems so staged and awkward – but now I know! They probably have already purchased a house and are just acting. Very dishonest. Shame on you House Hunters.

  2. Donna says

    Well that’s a total letdown. It must have been difficult to find fault with the friends’ homes that were featured after them being so cooperative. Hope they were all well compensated!

    • Cindy says


      I’ll bet it was hard to criticize their friends’ homes (at least it would have been for me). :-(

  3. Mrs. D. says

    I knew it was all fake and set up but didn’t realize just how fake it was until I read this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. says

    This sucks!!! No, seriously. I watch “House Hunters” for at least 7 years and I can’t believe this! How awful!

    Sure, we all understand TV is never completely real, unless you’re watching it live and it’s not edit. But, lie like that that is just horrible. It’s underestimate our intelligence and our TRUST.

    I’ll never watch that show again. If I wanted to watch a “fiction” I’d be watching a movie! Shame on the producers.


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  5. Melissa says

    I always assumed that the couple toured several more homes than just the 3 featured, but they only can show three. I learned from this website a few months ago that many times (or all the time) the couple has already chosen their house and they tour another two just for the sake of the show. Very interesting to find out in this episode, the other two homes weren’t even for sale and weren’t toured until months later!

  6. says

    Wow! I hadn’t thought of the friends’ house possibility. With so many houses for sale couldn’t they at least give other houses some exposure?

    • says

      This is Bobi! We tried! Honestly, we called around a bunch of Realtors and couldn’t get anyone to agree to sign the waiver and have their house featured. We thought it’d be easy to find people who had their house for sale that wanted free advertising. We were wrong. They were all skeptical of our intentions, maybe thinking we’d show it in a bad light. Also, both of these friends who let us tour their house ended up selling within that year (which they were kind of expecting) so they appreciated the exposure. The time between filming and it appearing on TV was between 6 months and a year (can’t remember exactly) so its kind of unlikely the same house would’ve been on the market when it aired (back in that quick moving market).

      • says

        Interesting! I always wondered if they had a hard time finding homeowners willing to let the House Hunters cameras in. Maybe that’s why so many of the houses they look at are empty–because the homeowners are long gone or it’s been foreclosed on?

        Thanks, Bobi!

  7. says

    A friend was trying for this show when she bought a house in Atlanta…they decided after the fact that the couple were not young enough or interesting enough. For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would want to be on that show!

  8. DaK says

    Thanks for sharing with us what goes on behind-the-scenes. Very interesting. I’d always wondered if they had to do multiple takes of each scene. It makes sense when you think about it.


  9. says

    As always your posts are wonderful. I knew most of everything was fake, but that visiting houses of friends to pretend that they were for sell is too much. I think the producers think people are really stupid to think that every single episode ends with the dialog:
    “Well, I chose the one I like, I hope is the same as you”
    “Number 3″
    “Eeeeeeeeeeee” Is the one I chose!!”
    And they kiss…
    Do they think we are retards? That we don’t watch the show over and over?
    Well, I watch to see the houses and the job they did once they moved. But my partner can’t stand people saying “It’s a little small” or “It’s nice to entertain” it drives him crazy!
    Tks Julia and the couple!!

  10. Lynn says

    Now i understand why some of the comments the people make drive me nuts! Because they’ve had to say them over and over and over. I am burned out by the show, it is always on!

  11. Julia says

    Ya know, it’s a tv show. I can still enjoy it even though I know it’s staged. To me, the worst culprit is “Love It Or Leave It.” That show makes me cringe.

    • Christy says

      I HATE that show!!!!

      Again, I realize it’s staged, but the homeowners annoy me so badly on that show. You mean the designer can’t add another story, redo the basement and completely gut the kitchen on a budget of $12??? Who does she think she is? ARGH!

      • says

        Yeah, “Love It or List It” does have some over-the-top homeowners who expect the moon from the designer (Hillary). I’d love to hear what that one’s like behind the scenes.

        I do know that they tape both endings–“We’re going to love it” or “We’re going to list it!” and then producers decide which one to air (and it has nothing to do with the couple’s actual decision).

          • Amy says

            Does it really matter if it’s true? Don’t we all watch because we love to look at the before and after?

            These shows don’t dupe us any more than a fashion magazine – they give us great ideas, lots of hope, and a healthy fantasy life.

            Thanks for posting, Julia and Bobi. I love this blog!

        • Chris says

          I was excited when I heard that show was coming to HGTV, as the premise is pretty interesting. But after a few episodes it’s the same story over and over again. The homeowners want anything and everything and Hillary can’t deliver. Then they have an awkward conversation in the driveway that the camera’s are (secretly) shooting. All the while the persistent, and insensitive realtor is showing them inadequate houses that they are downright rude about until they find the perfect one. Bad acting, the same story every time, such a disappointment…

        • Gaidig says

          I like watching Love It or List It for the makeover aspect, and I think Hillary generally does a great job, but I agree that it really irritates me that the homeowners really expect ridiculous things from her and never have a contingency, which is standard practice in construction. Additionally, they seem to be willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars more than their budget for a new home, but won’t budge on the reno budget, which is usually already a fraction of the additional amount they’re willing to spend on a new home. It is very formulaic, just like many of the other HGTV reality shows, but I expect it so it doesn’t bother me too much (my boyfriend, on the other hand, won’t watch most of the shows because some aspect of their formula grates on him). However, finding out that they film both endings and the producer picks is a real disappointment.

      • Al says

        I agree, and I’ve posted this before. On Love It Or List It, there is staged bickering that makes me very uncomfortable. As far as House Hunters goes, I too never thought that the producers would stoop so low as to show houses of friends, although I did know that the “open house” visitors on Designed to Sell were family and friends. I will watch maybe one more show to see if I can see the trickery mentioned in this article, and then that’s it for me.

    • sheshe0813 says

      i work for a furniture showroom and we have filmed twice for the competition designer shows. one for hgtv and one for bravo. you are well aware weeks in advance you will be filming as you have to sign a release. right before shooting the producers will come down and prep you and then a few min later they come in and start to shoot. the scenes are done over if something isn’t right. it’s actually kind of funny. the producers didn’t tell us what to say or anything like that but they do set up every scene. i have a whole new outlook on rel”ity tv.

  12. says

    It boggles my mind and bugs me to no end that the producers at HGTV would go to such lengths to fake it. Its not even good tv- its just so fake!
    I love househunting and find it endlessly fascinting…. there’s always so many ups and downs and weird and interesting things to discover… why doesn’t HGTV just film the REAL THING?

  13. Miss Em says

    That’s why I’ve always hated that show. It’s so obvious. And they run it on HGTV over and over constantly.

  14. shabbychick says

    This ruins the show for me. Very deceptive…hate that.

    • shabbychick says

      Doesn’t it make you wonder what else HGTV isn’t telling us? Like maybe the sets on Design Star aren’t really the designers own work, but the pros “help” the one they want to win – and the competition begins with the winner already chosen in the judges mind? And Designed to Sell – the houses aren’t even for sale, work isn’t even done by the designer, things that aren’t readily seen on camera aren’t finished, duct taping pillow covers on, the people touring the house are friends and family and aren’t really looking to buy and the home owners have to pay taxes on the improvements. HGTV is disgusting.

      • says

        In their defense, I don’t think this is an HGTV thing. I think it’s a reality-TV production thing. It’s just the way shows like this are done. When someone who was on one of them tells you “there’s no reality in reality TV,” they mean it! You have to watch them knowing that they are probably just spinning some stories for the audience. It’s not a documentary or anything. Sorry if that ruins it for some of you!

        • shabbychick says

          I do wonder, though, why not paint the ceiling, too? Why not make real pillow covers instead of duct taping fabric together? Why not get REAL buyers to tour a house that’s REALLY for sale? Why do they have to lie to make it “reality”?

          • PsycheSC says

            I am sure it is cheaper this way, rather than follow a couple around with a camera through every house they’re looking at and then edit all that footage once they narrow their choices down to three, etc. HGTV is in it to make a profit and this is the way they’ve found to do it.

        • Cat Kenny says

          It’s true – the last thing you should believe in Reality TV is that it is REAL.
          Having worked on a few “reality” shows or segments, I can tell you for fact that it is NOT reality. Stars of Design often need a bit (!!!) of help to “fully realize” their “vision”. Producers do prompt (coax, wheedle, beg) folks into “saying” what the production wants. And if all else fails, creative editing can make any pile of footage into the show the producers want viewers to see.
          HGTV is in the business of selling dreams, as aspirational an endeavor as any fictional film, fairytale, or Martha Stewart piece.
          Sad to say but if you want real (or at least more real), try a documentary.

  15. jeannie says

    I can accept a certain amount of “staging” but this is ridiculous. It is really a total fraud. I’ve often wondered at the choices the families made, sometimes the house they picked just didn’t make sense to me. Now I get it.

    I don’t think I will ever watch this show again. Touring friends’ houses, pretending they are really for sale? So the prices are made up, everything is made up. Ridiculous.

  16. says

    I knew that they had already chosen their home first (which saddened me when I first found out), but I had no idea that they would chose friends’ homes! What a joke!

    I’m interested in seeing how real Property Virgins is…or if its kind of a big phony as well.

      • Heather says

        I was on My First Place and the experience was much less staged. Our whole crew hated House Hunters because of that.

          • says

            Absolutely. What would you like to know? Parts of my episode were faked or recreated after the fact because the seller wouldn’t allow filming in the house I bought. We had to do a lot of borderline illegal stuff because of my situation. Other parts were 100% real, like when I found out that I’d gotten my house (there was a pretty elaborate ruse to make sure I was surprised).

            All of the houses we looked at on the show were houses I had actually looked at in my house hunt but when we filmed me looking at them we were faking that it was our first time there. Our crew prided themselves on the fact that our show was less fake than House Hunters.

            I sort of micro-managed the surprise gift at the end because I’m type A and the budget was so low. I shopped for the mid century modern furniture I got at consignment shops and sent them pictures and prices and they made the ultimate decision of what I got.

            Just let me know if you want to know anything else!

            • says

              Thanks for sharing the link Heather. Your house is beautiful and I am so glad that you successfully bid on it. I am also glad that you see the value in all the original detail and will keep it. It makes me cringe when people purchase homes with such character and then rip it all out. Your homes was built when houses were still being made well.

              I enjoyed looking at your blog and the before and after photos. I hope that you enjoy being a home owner. It is quite a responsibility and lots of work but I think it is worth it because it is all yours. Your garden is coming along beautifully.

      • Melinda says

        Julia, I do know of brothers who were on “Property Virgins” here in Cincinnati a few years ago. They said it was pretty realistic although they had already picked the house they were buying long before Sandra got here. I thought it was funny that a realtor from Toronto was schooling locals about buying in Hyde Park.

    • Don says


      So… yes it’s TV. Here is the big secret… we were simply recreating everything we went through during the process of finding a home. Nothing was fabricated. It was simply “replayed” in a format that a viewer can share/enjoy and be a part of our experience. There is no other way to portray the process effictively. So viewers, please know that yes, it is not in 100% real time, but everything else is 100% true. The client story, the homes viewed, and the eventual purchase. We are just recreating the journey in actual homes of interest for the viewer enjoyment. It is far from a scam. It is a wonderful way to view homes in the U.S. and abroad and see how things turn out.

      • George says

        There is a word for what you’re describing. It’s reenactment. It’s not hard to put a disclaimer at the beginning or end of the show. Cash Cab does it. Otherwise, you’re just a liar.

      • David says

        Finally a reasonable post. I can’t believe there are actually adults running around loose on the streets who don’t realize what they are watching is “staged entertainment.” It took 16 hours of taping to create a 10 minute segment on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” for a restaurant in Arlington, Texas. That’s from the owners mouth to my ears. Yet I’ll bet there’s someone out there who thinks everything happens in that 10 minute segment. Same thing here. The program is a presentation of choice, it’s different properties and most of the time an annoying couple who you pray to God will never be your neighbor. Now I know where to find the people who believe the lunar landing was all done on a movie set in Hollywood. We enjoy the program – even though there are so many reruns – and laugh at ourselves for having made the same stupid mistakes other people have done. I wish there had been something like this around when we bought our first house.

        • Tad E says

          Puhleeze. There’s a vast difference between a big editing job on DD&D and a total distortion of the concept of House Hunters. If you could reason a bit better, you’d see your “lunar landing” non-analogy for what it is.

  17. says

    Their friends’ homes?! Wow! I knew it was already fake from your last post about it (you always have the scoop!) but that fact surprised me!

    • says

      Me, too! I’ve gotten emails from people behind the scenes of the show over the years but no one had ever mentioned that to me before. Interesting, huh?

  18. 65andcounting says

    Something doesn’t seem right here. I watch House Hunters alot (okay, all the time) and there are a million cases where the couple is looking at empty houses (so those can’t belong to friends) or the houses they look at that do have furniture in them, the shopping couple is often known to completely verbally rip apart the decor or design. What friend would be willing to be subjected to that? I think Bobi’s example is only one version of how many scenarios there are on House Hunters. I’ll still watch.

    I wish this interview had been from someone who really had fun being on the show, even knowing what goes on behind-the-scenes.

    • says

      I agree–I’m sure it’s not always friends’ houses. It just was in this case. As Bobi mentioned above, they couldn’t find anyone else willing to sign the waiver.

      I think she did enjoy the experience, but I’ll let her speak for herself! :-)

    • says

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy my interview, but I really did love the opportunity to be on the show. I applied for it after all! My husband doesn’t like being “fake” but I’ve always loved acting so doing 5 or 6 takes of the same thing didn’t bother me a bit. Any video/TV production would require that – “reality TV” or not.

      And you are right, I am sure our case is not typical. I have no idea why we couldn’t get people to let us tour their homes that were for sale, but that is the usual and typical way it goes. Our case (of viewing our friends’ houses) was not typical. I just thought the hooked on houses readers might enjoy an inside view of one family’s experience. I loved it and would do it again. Sorry if it didn’t seem that way :).

      • Natasha says

        It’s strange to me that you had to try to find other houses to see. Don’t they have a P.A. that could make those phone calls? Thanks for sharing.

        • says

          I know, right?! We had to do a lot of the legwork. It was pretty low-budget. All I wanted was for them to spring for some hair and makeup people 😉 but that was a “no.” The producer did tell me my face was shiny at one point and I got the hint to go powder my nose a bit more, LOL.

  19. Beth says

    Thanks for the insider view, Bobbi. Loved reading your story. (P.S. Good “choice” on House #1 :) )

  20. Teresa says

    I love looking at houses, so I don’t really care whose houses they tour (i.e., for sale or friends place). BUT I get so aggravated at the gender stereotypes portrayed: he wants a man cave with a big plasma; she needs a room for her shoes. Is this the 1950s or a flashback to Designing for the Sexes?

    I wish HGTV would do a show on real life home renovations (not $1m rooms), but a DIY kitchen or bathroom makeover that cost less than $50K. It’s possible! Some of us just need inspiration.

    • says

      I hate the stereotypes, and I also hate the bratty comments (usually by younger people), like “Ew, they don’t have granite counters” or “How can we live with only one bathroom?”

      Oh, and I hate the ones who complain about stuff that can be fixed in like a day, like paint n the walls.

      • SouthernBelle18 says

        SOOOOO Just an fyi….a lot of the stupid comments couples make are from the producers….

        If the couple can’t find anything wrong then there is a producer mouthing lines….

    • Lorraine says

      Amen. And it’s not only the gender stereotypes that are tiresome. I often get the feeling that the home buyers are pushed to complain if the kitchen counter-tops aren’t made of granite, the master bedroom isn’t humungous, there aren’t two sinks in the bedroom, etc, etc. I also agree with you that it would be fantastic if HGTV had some programming focused on real life renovations. Right now it seems that their main focus is to push people to spend above their means. It’s become more about consumerism than about making a home.

      • says

        I agree, Lorraine! That is what I meant by “cringeing” when I said the house was too small. It wasn’t, and I’m sorry for being part of telling the world that a small home isn’t “good enough.” A lot of people doubt my intentions here, but I do feel strongly about this point. Thanks for commenting.

    • Zahra's Mom says

      I agree with you regarding the scale of the budgets. I would even like to see how how choosing a key element to renovate can change an entire space. That’s how most DIYers do it-for budget and time restrictions alone.

      But I used to love “Designing for the Sexes” with Michael Payne. My husband & I used to watch it together when we were dating. Maybe it’s my nostalgia, but I thought he was genius about addressing a couple’s disparate (probably manufactured and exaggerated) needs.

      Does anyone know what happened to him?

      • says

        I was also a fan of “Designing for the Sexes” who watched it with my hubby.

  21. says

    It’s so crazy that such a popular show is so FAKE, but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. By the way, even though I don’t have cable anymore, and so can’t record hours of HGTV programming that I then DVR-zoom through, I still love seeing your behind-the-scenes dirt about their shows. :-) Heehee.


  22. Jenna says

    I find the American House Hunters depressing…what do you mean no granite/i have to paint/it is only 3000 square feet. But, I do love the International House Hunters. It is so interesting to see how people in other countries live and how their houses and standards are so different.

    • Jean says

      I love the International version as well! At least they don’t complain as much about “no stainless steel appliances”!

      • Dave says

        The prospective homeowners don’t complain as much on International….UNLESS THEY ARE FROM THE U.S. It drives me and my wife nuts to see someone say they want to experience living overseas, and then complain that a small apartment in France doesn’t have like a refrigerator the size of a caddilac. I like HH International when the buyers are from a country other than the U.S.

  23. Brenda says

    I’m with you Jenna. I love House Hunters International. But again, due to time constraints, the homes there are probably picked out well ahead of time.
    As for Love it Or List it, the application form states that the producers want the home owners to be confrontational, otherwise the show would be very boring. I think all these shows should be be taken lightly, they are there for our enjoyment.

    • shabbychick says

      If you enjoy bickering and complaining….and deceit and trickery! 😉

    • says

      My daughter and I LOVE HH international. And honestly it think it’s pretty obvious that the show pushes the boundaries of real and fake – who only looks at three houses and then makes a decision? But honestly – I watch it because I love to see the insides of different homes so half the time I’m not paying any attention to the “buyers” – I’m looking at the house :)

      And I see this website and post all over the internet now :) Seems to have peaked people’s interest!!

    • SouthernBelle18 says

      Yes, lots of the complaining is egged on my producers & the director.
      And if you have to sit there and do it over and over again you want to hurry it up by saying the line they wish for you to!

  24. says

    This is fascinating! I love watching House Hunters because it’s fun to guess which house they choose, and I know “reality” shows are really fake and edited to mislead, but this is pretty enlightening and surprising. I’d love to hear more behind-the-scenes experiences from people on various reality shows.

  25. Kim says

    I don’t mind a little bit of staging here and there, but to take it this far is just horrible. I’ve lost respect for “HGTV” and don’t care to watch any of their shows especially “House Hunters”, which actually I haven’t tuned into that channel in years.

  26. says

    Hey guys–I just wanted to make an overall comment that HGTV isn’t really to blame here. This is all of TV…this is just how it is made. If you have a production crew invited into your life and home you realize the technicalities that go into it. It took 5 full long days to film what would end up being 1/2 hour episode with commercials. I would venture a guess that HGTV is one of the least offenders in the sensationalizing reality TV group. If you find this eye opening I can only imagine the behind the scenes stuff on a show like the Bachelor or Survivor or something that is ongoing, with a lot more relationship drama. There is NO SUCH thing as reality TV. It would be incredibly boring to really watch an ongoing camera in someone’s life. There’s going to be editing/splicing, re-doing things that were done when not looking at the camera. I don’t think its any reason to ban shows you love from your life…just an eye opening picture of the details that go into making them.

    • says

      Well said. I’ve known these shows were fake for years (I think I first wrote about them in 2010), but I still watch. It’s just fun for me to follow along with the homeowners looking at houses. And on shows like “Love It or List It,” I love the before and afters, whether the homeowners’ stories are 100% accurate or not.

  27. Stacy says

    I was on “My First Place” and it definitely ruined my ability to appreciate most shows on HGTV now. It’s a bummer when you learn how the sausage gets made and can’t just watch a “reality” show anymore.

  28. HollyM says

    While I wish I was watching the ‘real’ thing when it comes to these shows, I’m smart enough to know I’m not.

    I like viewing the homes and trying to guess which one they’ve already chosen. Did they pick the one that I like? So many of these buyers disappoint me by not choosing the more interesting house.

  29. Bel says

    Wow I never thought it would be fake and I always looked forward to that show. But since its so fake I will no longer tape it or watch it. What a letdown!

  30. cbean says

    Dear Julia, no matter what topic you choose: movies, tv shows, books, magazines, celebs, real estate listings, what have you, your blogs are always interesting and the comments are such fun to read!


  31. says

    I don’t watch the show. Now I am glad I never did. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of ‘reality’ TV, but one that takes the ‘real’ out of reality is not something I would waste time on anyway.

  32. Screendoorgirl 3 says

    I have no problem with this, in fact I appreciate Bobi’s honesty. If I want reality I’ll go to the grocery store . Chalk it up to the magic of television! Thanks , Julia…

  33. katie says

    What I don’t understand is why people want to be on the show at all? Are they compensated in some way or is it just to be on TV?

    • says

      I imagine it would be a kick to be on the show if it was one of your favorites. In Bobi’s case, as she said, her husband was a real estate agent and it was great publicity for him at the time.

      They do get some money for their trouble–last I heard it was around $500–but I’m guessing people are more likely to do it just for the experience!

  34. Amanda says

    Was anybody even remotely surprised by this? I watch the show because it’s a short, fun show and it’s interesting to see different metro areas…

    Doesn’t change the show for me at all. I always figured that there was a certain amount of staging that went into it anyway. Just like .. well pretty much all “reality” TV.

  35. says

    Julia, thanks for another fabulous blog post. The comments have been equally fabulous. I’ve watched countless eps of House Hunters and will continue simply because I love to see different houses. I’ve learned not to expect high standards of cable TV, really. At least HGTV isn’t shoving Bigfoot and flying saucer stories at us. I do miss Carol Duvall, though.

    • says

      Yeah, whatever happened to Carol Duvall? I wish they’d do some kind of reunion show with all of the original hosts someday!

  36. Colleen says

    Wow, how disappointing! Not that the viewer don’t expect it to be somewhat scripted, but come on!!!!!

  37. Natasha says

    I love Property Brothers and Income Property. Now I want the scoop on those! 😉

  38. says

    I always figured that part of House Hunters had to be staged but it goes way beyond what I ever expected. It is kind of a let down but the show is still fun to watch. I don’t care for when people make negative comments on the home owners decorating style. It is not only rude but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the house. You are buying the house not the home owners decorating style. Paint colors can always be changed, as well as ugly carpets and floor tiles.

    I love House Hunters International; especially when they head over to Europe.

  39. Lindsey says

    Your posts are always fantastic and being an avid House Hunters watcher I found this one particularly interesting.
    On a completely unrelated note can you do a post of your Top 5 favorite House/Architecture coffee table books? We just installed built-in cabinets and there’s a LOT of empty space that needs filling up. Would love to throw some good books in there that I can leaf thru every now and then to appreciate good architecture. Thank you!

  40. says

    Great post. We were filmed for HHI in the fall and our episode aired in Feb 2012. We wrote a similar post about our reenactment. http://www.gringosabroad.com/behind-the-scenes-house-hunters-international-in-cuenca-ecuador/

    The position of the producers, and I agree, is that the people story is just a way to showcase international real estate. The participants really are a side story. In our case a number of key facts were incorrect. Some because of the disconnect between the producers and the editing department. Others because it made the show work better.

    Realistically speaking, it would be a rare couple or family that could look one time at just three properties and make a purchase. I know it happens, but don’t they usually look at lists of properties, even returning numerous times? Just that should suggest that there is a staged factor to the show. But the show is well produced, shows great locations and provides 30 minutes of entertainment. After all, that’s why we watch TV, right?

    I didn’t realize that (partly) staged reality shows were still a secret. Are we still that gullible to believe that reality is still real?

    Thanks again for a great post!


    • says

      Great to hear from someone who was on HHI and get your take on the experience! Thanks for the link to your post, too, Bryan. Very interesting!

  41. says

    Since I don’t get HGTV at home, I only watch it when I’m somewhere where it’s available (hotels, family, friends, etc.) I’ve thought for a long time that House Hunters, Designed to Sell, and a few other shows are awful! Knowing the “truth” behind them makes me like them even less….if that’s possible! I always knew they weren’t “real” though.

    Many of the shows that give dollar amounts for “re-do’s” and designs make it very hard for those of us who are interior decorators to “educated” our prospective clients to the fact that these shows are not real. They rarely, if ever, give labor fees! And that makes it a point to explain to my clients when it comes to their budget.

    Overall, there’s one thing to keep in mind about HGTV shows: This is TV folks. We must keep in mind that the shows are done for maximum viewer interest. That means a LOT of what you see is “for the camera” (i.e. NOT real!)

    Still, if you get enjoyment out of watching these shows, that’s OK. Please don’t ask/expect your decorator do to these sorts of things (ex. like on Designed to Sell) on unrealistic budgets.

  42. says

    My “pet peeve” is when buyers constantly whine by saying “it doesn’t come with a refrigerator?” or “we will have to replace that appliance”. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollar and they complain about not having a fridge. Good grief!!!

    • Zahra's Mom says

      I totally agree. Why would you be bummed out by not having to use some stranger’s fridge any way?

      I would rather get a new one suited to my needs without having to negotiatie with the hubby. That would be a bonus for me. And Sears.

    • SouthernBelle18 says

      The silly comments made by the couples that seem ridiculous are fed to the couple when there is little to complain about in the house or that particular room :)

  43. says

    Having worked in advertising and PR for years, I should have known that the old saying rings true…”nothing is as it appears.” This is a bit of a bummer to find out that it is a little beyond “staged” and is totally scripted. Maybe it’s really time that they re-examine the format/formula for the show and re-invent it…in a more realistic, truthful manor.

  44. Dean says

    I remember this episode because I’m a fan of HH. I knew that on HH, the “winning house” was one that was in escrow, but to stage friend’s homes as bogus for sale properties is news to me. That’s amazing…. and deceitful. But, I really don’t care as I watch HH and HH International solely for the pleasure of looking at houses and properties.

  45. Amy says

    Oh man…the more reality shows I watch and read about, the more I learn how far from reality they are..!

    Thank goodness for COPs … you can’t stage that kinda stupid!

  46. yelllowliner says

    A woman who was featured on House International in Bishkek last year said the same thing on her blog: It’s pretty much all fake and outright lies. See: http://ivorypomegranate.com/2011/11/06/watching-myself-on-tv/

    That said, I like the international version because I get to see cities and lifestyles of how people live around the world, often in places I will never go. (Like Bishkek.)

  47. Terry says

    It is not the “hood-winking” I am against. It is the fact that more and more it is the infomercial aspect of each episode. That and the fact that houses at every economic level must have stainless steel appliances, granite counters, hardwood floors, oversized bedrooms, “flow”, room-sized closets, offices, and man caves. I call this the “HGTVing of America. It results in a dreary sameness to homes. Actually, we are buying “homes”, not houses. Whatever happened to “I love the way this feels!”. After living in a house, changes can be made to make is more personal, budgets can be looked at realistically and the character of the house can reveal itself. I can’t help but watch but am distressed to what is happening to sellers who can’t afford to “HGTV” their houses, causing the house to linger on the market. These are homes, not purses, shoes or cell phones. Phew! (I haven’t even gotten started).

    • Jane says

      Terry- I agree. We lived in our home over. 20 years before gutting our kitchen for a complete remodel. Before, we had put in new flooring to cover the vinyl flooring which had huge holes in it.

      Even when we gutted our kitchen, we kept our old fridge and dishwasher. Both workfine and lookgreat. Why replace them? They are standard sizes so when they do break down we can slide new ones in.

      The laminate counter, however, was not only cracked but badly stained and all the cabinets plus the stove and ovens were in terrible shape. So we did do a major overhaul but were fine with our older kitchen when we bought the house.

      We are proud that we saved money for the overhaul and took on NO debt to pay for it. I a not so crazy about the stainless steel oven be ause the finish shows fingerprints and I have to wipe them off daily. Ugh!

  48. says

    I watched an episode of HH Intl this weekend with a young couple in Hackeney, London. The first place they saw was a tiny one room studio with a fairly distinctive bed and cheap laminate wardrobe next to it. In the middle of the episode, as they were supposedly talking to the couple BEFORE THEY WENT HOUSE HUNTING about what they were looking for, they’re very clearly sitting on that bed and have put pictures on the wardrobe. They didn’t even try to disguise which place they chose.

  49. says

    that’s so interesting! we watch House Hunters all the time and I always figured they had a house picked out before it filmed but had no idea they would use houses for comparison that aren’t even for sale. Love the inside scoop!

    • Melissa says

      Yesterday I googled “House Hunters” and fake and there were many websites out there that were referring to Hooked on Houses!

  50. deana says

    Your blog just got a mention on EW.com for this story. So cool! Loooove your blog!

  51. says

    I heard that all of the houses on House Hunters…come with those ovens like the ones on the cooking shows…where muffins magically pop out all beautifully toasty and golden after baking for just 2 minutes.


    : )

    Julie M.

  52. Mark says

    I’m sorry, i don’t totally believe this. The show has been on for years, with hundreds of people and shows and this is the first time i’ve heard someone say this. While i don’t doubt what we see is not somewhat staged, if it is as bad as mentioned here i can’t believe we wouldn’t have heard from others way before now. Just my opinion.

    • says

      Actually the news HAS been out there for years. HGTV admitted it themselves in an interview they gave in 2008 or so. I have heard from quite a few people over the years who told similar stories and I reported on them in 2010. Other websites have reported it as well. That’s why I’m surprised everyone seems to be so shocked by this–I thought it was kind of common knowledge by now.

      A publicist for House Hunters responded to this story on Entertainment Weekly yesterday and admitted it’s true, but that they have to do things like this to keep production costs low and to do tape the stories in a timely manner.

  53. Nick says

    A friend of mine was on this show in Minneapolis and she had the same experience. They were chosen for the show after they had already purchased their house, and then they found two other homes to pretend to look at after. Now when I watch I try to figure out which one they already bought and which ones are the “fakes.” It’s a different viewing experience but I still like the show. Frankly, for me its more about the escape and fantasizing about what it would be like to live in another city and what I could get for my money.

  54. Aryn says

    I have to watch House Hunters on “mute” if the hubby is home. He can’t stand the whiny buyers. And neither of us can stand the obligatory large closet conversation:
    Wife: Ooh! All for me, and you can have a small dresser!

    I like House Hunters International, especially if they’re somewhere tropical.

    But my favorite show is Income Property. I don’t care how real or fake that one is, I love Scott and I love to see the finished apartments!

  55. Jane says

    Oops, just saw the link. A little delay on seeing my link. Sorry.

  56. says

    Honestly, I no longer really watch House Hunters. I knew from early on it had to be staged, but that’s not really why I stopped watching. I just got sick of the same format, over and over and over again. The strained comments on each room. The lack of design…..I mean, how many ugly, carpeted bathrooms do we need to see? And quite frankly…..I’m just plain ole’ sick of real estate shows. The ONLY one I might watch is the international edition, and even then it can be a let down (okay….Selling NY or LA is palatable, only because it IS high style for the most part.)

    If HGTV is looking at these comments (and I kinda think they might be) I wish you guys would stop with shows like this, as well as, design on a dime type themes (enough already! How many times has a cheap, ill-constructed project just turned out crappy only to be passed off as awesome?) Give us more true high style shows. Shows that delve more into the process of designing. More shows like Sarah Richardson or even David Bromstadt.

    I’ve been a loyal viewer for years. But for about the last two years, I find myself growning impatient with your lack of imagination. It’s time to shake it up!

  57. Chaslie says

    Of course it is fake like all reality tv shows. Also, has anyone else noticed that almost all the couples they pick are either gay or biracial? The show gives the impression that the majority of couples out there are either in a homosexual or biracial relationship.

  58. Sean says

    ‘Tis true that House Hunters is fake. We were on the show 4 years ago. Our contract called the show ‘pseudo-reality’. We had already committed to the house we were going to buy before we had even talked to HH. The producers wanted us to downplay the house that we had already committed to and up-sell the other 2 houses, simply to tease the viewer.

  59. Mandi says

    This is very interesting. We saw a house that we tried to make an offer on back in 2009 on this show. The listing agents never returned any phone calls from us or from our realtor even though she explicitly told them she had an offer to present. Makes me wonder if the house was already sold at the time and plans for being on the show were underway. The episode aired just a few months after in early 2010.

  60. Bummed about Househunters says

    Any watch the young hair stylists from Frederick VA today? Now after reading this I can tell her hair is different in every scene. Very disappointing.

  61. ADT says

    Not surprising at all. I wish they’d write better dialog. Most of it is DULL.

  62. Joe says

    The first rule of reality TV is there’s nothing real about it. The second rule is that if you find it entertaining, some fudging of the facts probably doesn’t matter. At least the people are actually buying a new home on House Hunters–by reality TV standards that’s doing pretty darn good!

    Check out some of the revelations/accusations about other reality shows and see how fake they are. I used to love Storage Wars but they’ve been accused of everything from planting interesting items to faking entire auctions. And the regulars are earning way more by being on the show than they could ever earn off of buying abandoned storage units.

    • Heidi says

      Totally agree. House Hunters is still more believable than most of the other home shows out there. Love It Or List It is a total joke with bad acting, the designer finding some hidden problem every episode that eats up most of the budget, etc. And has anybody ever wondered how House and Yard Crashers magically have customized plans, materials and contractors all lined up for the people they “find” that morning at the home center? It doesn’t make them bad shows. It just reflects the reality of having to produce a TV show on a budget.

  63. callie says

    I will tell you that this is not going to matter to me at all. “House Hunters” is a GREAT show and will continue to have my viewership.

  64. Renae says

    I’m glad I stopped watching House Hunters it use to bug me so bad with all the repeating of shows. I watch HGTV a lot and I’ve always wanted to be on the Property Brother’s or Income Property. But after reading this I’m second guessing if its even real. So if anyone knows anything about those shows could you please upload that info.

  65. Roman the REALTOR says

    This is TV!!!! if it were totally real it would be boring!!
    The filming cannot start until the property closes due to the fact that not every home closes as planned, wouldn’t that suck to to be on TV buying a new home and it end up your renting because financing fell through!! lol

  66. says

    It’s sad, I have so many first time buyers who come to me with unrealistic expectations about the buying process because of “reality” shows like this.

  67. allen johns says

    While the producers don’t argue about it being “fake”, my house was used without my knowledge on the show… I didn’t actually own the house at the time, though it was under contract and within days of closing.

    I had friends calling me telling me that “hey, I think House Hunters was at your house.” And they were right.

    Not only that- the “potential buyers” made disparaging remarks about my house, which totally burned me up once I learned they had already bought a house.

    Guess its all in the name of entertainment.

    • says

      No kidding? Wow! That’s the first time I’ve heard of that happening! That would kind of be a bummer. Thanks, Allen.

  68. says

    In the days of instant gratification shows with good concepts involving either home buying or the renovation process suffer so much. It’s too bad, you lose out on good quality and genuine reactions for the simple need to stage a good shot.

    Great post.

  69. Mark says

    Speaking of fake reality shows, the chairman on the original Iron Chef was just an actor.

  70. ted says

    Unbelievable, I’ll just stick with “property virgins” now. Surely they wouldn’t fake that show???????????

    • Marco Falso says

      Ted, I am sure that show, “Property Virgins” is not really a real show. All staged because when I first watched that show, I thought the host was really a Real Estate Agent with a license to sell in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) when I noticed she was selling houses in the United States! If that is true, then Sandra R. has so many licenses to sell in both countries! That is quite fishy to me. So, it is staged. All shows on HGTV are staged. Look at the fixer shows like Mike Holmes’ or Curb Appeal or any others, they go for the most expensive materials. One episode about the kitchen remodel with this Black woman (can not recall her name or show now since it was short lived), a couple who tried to save money by telling her those two kitchen choices are way expensive and wanted to go lower and the host blew her temper. I saw it all and demanded the couple to accept more expensive kitchen. It was an elderly couple.. maybe 60 years old. Well, it showed me that the couple has to pay for the kitchen, not the show. So, they were stuck and to take the lowest at 30K! I am a designer and I can go much lower than that for that size kitchen. Perhaps 10 to 15K if done right. When I saw her temper and her demands, I said to myself, “Okay…I see.” I never watched that show again. I was even hoping it goes away and it sure did shortly after that.

      • Jane says

        60 is an elderly couple? Ouch. I thought of my mom as elderly but she was 98 ( and installed a very long brick walkway at age 80). Sorry , that part about being elderly just gave me a reality check.

  71. Marco Falso says

    I am glad someone exposed HH! I knew it was fake because I saw one espiode last August that it was a rerun; a man from Chicago who needed a house in my hometown, Syracuse, NY. Let me be the second person to expose HH. I saw on HGTV about my mom’s boyfriend’s house was on! It was the first house featured that it was in the nice area. My mom’s boyfriend sold the house to someone else, not from Chicago then HGTV called him and ask permission. On TV the sign for sale was not up, it was filmed AFTER the house was sold. They choose the house because it was a nice house. What they show as you walk in and saw that nail on the wall. It was MY drawing of the house! I was furious that it was taken off. He told me he left it for next person. It should have kept on there to show MY WORK! I was furious!

    The man who bought the third choice was actually for sale. The first two were not for sale. The third one was a fixer in need. It was.. we think it was in the South side of Syracuse, not soo good area. Then later he told me that the man sold the house, moved again.

    I stop watching HH due to my art work taken down and laughed at me on the show indirectly and the house was not really for sale when it was filmed. I sense at the moment that it was totally faked. So, no wonder many “reality”-based shows that you see on HGTV, DIY, and others are usually scripted and fictional like any other shows like NCIS, LOST, Gillian’s Island, you name it. I am glad Bobi and her family are exposing and I am exposing. Please do feel free to ask me questions and I will be happy to answer.

    • says

      That’s interesting. I wonder why they would have removed artwork? Maybe worrying about not having permission to show it? Thanks, Marco.

  72. amanda says

    Julia, did you know your story made it to Yahoo’s home page?! I have no problem with House Hunters being staged, I mean it makes sense they require someone who has closed on a home, otherwise a lot of time and money could be wasted filming people who don’t get the house or have financing fall through or the many other reasons people don’t buy. However, HGTV sh0uld at least have them look at homes actually for sale, not just friends’ homes- that’s ridiculous! Still, I’ll take House Hunters no matter how staged over Jersey Shore or the Kardashians any day! A LOT of “reality” tv is staged and I’ve never really thought of HGTV as reality tv anyway, more home design tv.

      • Marco Falso says

        Yours also made it on home page of aol/HP as well. Now your website is generating exposure and more traffic. Now I know your site exist. I like it! Now I will be here to check sometimes!

  73. Joan says

    I’m not surprised. I never could believe all the stuff on those shows were real. The home buyers just didn’t have the correct reactions to the homes they were touring. Then to be limited to pick one out of 3, that were not even near what they were looking for, never made sense to me. But I still enjoyed seeing the homes, no matter whose they were. Friends or on the market.
    What I hated was seeing a couple specify they wanted one thing, then watching them “settle” for a home that was nothing like what they wanted. And they looked happy ? Not Kosher. If it had been me, I would’ve walked off the show, rather than be forced to buy a home I didn’t love. And of course…the realtor on the show always pushed homes on the buyers that were at their highest limit in affordability.
    The phony negotiations just killed me. They were very obviously set up. I know lots of sellers who refuse to be low-balled, & many of these buyers were out to low ball no matter what. There were too many sellers who wouldn’t budge and too many buyers who walked away without buying anything at all. I guess people just wouldn’t fall for all the fakeness. Clients looked at over 35 homes & still found nothing they liked ? Or they’d tell Sandra they loved certain homes, then walked out of the show with nothing for stupid reasons. A lot of young buyers wanted nothing but brand new. And if I had to listen to one more buyer say they had to have “their” granite, I was gonna barf all over my TV !!
    This show makes it look like every single buyer out there wants nothing but granite counters, stainless steel appliances, wood floors or they will not buy !! This makes every normal home seller feel their property is not worthy to be on the market at all, unless they do major improvements to it 1st. Bologne !! When I looked at homes…most of them were all out of date & they were asking as much for them as any other home on the market. Over improved homes may sell quicker than others, but they will not sell for more money. That should’ve been obvious. And what was with almost all the sellers being made to pay the closing costs ? I don’t know of anyplace in my state where the realtor suggests the buyer ask for closing costs from the seller. They would laugh at me if I asked for that…It just doesn’t happen in NJ. No seller is going to do that here. Then accept a low ball offer on top of that. It just isn’t reality for me.

  74. Jeri says

    Hi Julia,
    I flipped though the comments pretty quick but I didn”t see were or how the The Jensen Family and others were compensated. I can not see going though all that stuff for nothing.

    • says

      Hi. This is Bobi. We were given a $500 subject’s fee. I think its been the same for all of Househunter’s run as far as I’ve found. I haven’t heard that its gone up either :).

  75. Jane says

    What about the house hunters who never end up picking a house by the end of the segment? Do they just do that to make it seem more real? Because not everyone would end up buying a home or might change their minds?

  76. Laurie says

    I totally figured it was staged when I saw the Morocco International House Hunters episode. I had been following that owners blog about her Moroccan house for a couple years from 2006-2007 – way before the episode appeared on TV. So, they’d had that house for a couple years already!!

  77. Paula says

    I have known for several years that House Hunters staged at least some of the showings and house tours. My mother-in-law’s great-nephew moved from Idaho Falls to Las Vegas, and was actually approached by HH to do a segment after he’d made his choice of condo. He agreed to look at a couple more options and be filmed, but he stick to his original choice. My understanding was they were looking for young single buyers and that his realtor answered the ad. I didn’t think it was any big deal, truthfully. There’s no way some of the house hunting shown could take place in the short time frame that’s demonstrated. My husband and I looked for a couple of months at least, and we live in a fairly small town.

  78. says

    You have got to be kidding me- if you go on the website to apply for the show they tell you that you already have to have a contract on a property. It is so open to the public to see- so Bobi already knew what she was getting into- they will only accept you on the show if you have already closed on a property- I know b/c I tried to get on the show and did not have a property- I hope that HGTV sues the crap out of Bobi- she knew what she was getting into-

    • says

      You have got to be kidding ME. They should go around suing everyone who tells what is an open secret anyway? HGTV never tried to hide it and of course she knew what she was getting into. She isn’t complaining. She had a great experience. She was just sharing the behind-the-scenes story with us, which I thought my readers would find entertaining.

      • Teddy says

        Guess what Julia…I particularly didn’t find it entertaining. What is this fascination with the “public needs to know”. Now you have single handily ruin this for alot of people.

          • Melenie says

            I love behind the scenes stories! I don’t know why anyone would be disgusted by this post, it was very interesting!

    • says

      I *did* know what I was getting into, and I did it, obviously :). Julia and I just thought her blog readers would enjoy a behind-the-scenes look. We weren’t meaning to broadcast something new, the truth had been reported here and elsewhere in 2008 and 2010. It just happened to be interesting to people and this article got linked to and went viral by other reporters.

      I certainly wasn’t trying to hurt a show or network (which I love!) by contributing to an article on Hooked on Houses.

      Why would they sue us for telling the truth, which was reported on several times already in the past? And why would you wish that kind of stress on our family?

  79. AB says

    Your site was just featured on The Today Shows “What’s Trending Today” segment concerning this article! Thought you would enjoy knowing!

  80. BL says

    My sister was on House Hunters in L.A. The entire thing was staged. They had already purchased their home months before when their realtor approached them about being on the show. The house was still not redone so it looked pretty rough. So they brought them around to two other houses – and the one they bought – with the cameras and asked them to act surprised, delighted, disappointed when they went into each house.

  81. carrie says

    you were just on the today show! they showed this post in trending topics! that’s exciting!

  82. Maxwell says

    The ‘real’ problem is many Americans are foolish and are willing pay for cable service that providers bundle and tier channels into packages so they can promote their service by the number of channels they provide.

    What they are actually doing is forcing customers to pay for each channel, many they would never ask to purchase, this generates millions of dollars in extra revenue to the providers and incentive to subsidize inexpensive (or useless) cable channels. These filler channels are given a small percentage of the revenue generated to create program content on a small budget, which results in more non-professional, non-union “reality” shows which are cheaply produced.

    Until enough people realize they’re actually paying cable providers to insult their intelligence, this will be a very successful business model and continue to thrive.

    The best thing to do is ‘cut the cable’ and force providers to sell only the channels You want, not what they want You to pay for, stop subsidizing ignorance.

  83. says

    I think TV in general is made for ENTERTAINMENT. If you want facts, try the science or history channel. I was featured on Oprah several years ago – the film crew was at my house for 16 frikin hours trying to make a “natural looking” greeting between me and a neighbor that was 15 seconds (or less) of actual air time. Fake? Duh. Do ya think? It is all made for entertainment. Do you think the bullets are real, or the blood, or the dead bodies on all those crime shows? Reality tv? TV is a medium that is totally manipulated – reality is the work they put into producing it.

  84. Balt says

    Not exactly on-topic, but… when watching the show “Property Brothers”, have you noticed that the prices of the fixer-upper houses tend to be outrageously high (such as $450,000 for a small dumpy duplex that has been left a mess), while the cost of the elaborate renovations is absurdly low? (Is all the labor free?)

  85. Megan Freedline says

    I completely disagree with this article. When I found out that “My First Place” was coming to my hometown, I submitted an application. It wasn’t until a few months later that I received a call for the show. Unfortunately, by that time, I had already placed an offer on a house (and received the call that my offer was accepted on the SAME day that HGTV called me back. I was informed that I was not allowed to “fake” the process just to be on the show, because they were very adament about following the true story to the best of their ability. Just wanted to share my experience!

  86. Jaynie59 says

    I’m thrilled to find this website. I’m a house junkie and can’t wait to check out the rest of the site.
    As for House Hunters, the only thing that really surprises me is that the featured buyers don’t get paid much. That’s a surprise. I’ve always assumed people who went on shows like this were at least well paid for it.
    I’ve been watching HH since the first season and in the beginning it was like My First Place. There was no mystery about which house the buyer would choose. By twenty minutes into the episode that was it. You knew the next house would be the one. So when they changed it to be a mystery the show got a lot better. It is fun to guess which house it will be, and it is pretty obvious that some of the houses don’t stand a chance. What I find annoying is the blatant phony positive comments the featured buyers have to say to keep the “mystery” alive. But it’s not like you can’t tell. I enjoy the show even after all these years and like I said the only real surprise to me is that the participants aren’t better paid.

  87. Nikki says

    Awwe man talk about a Spoiler, I have been watching this show for years and I am disappointed at just how fake it is now. What a big let down. I hope the couple that told the story doesn’t get sued tho, for telling all of the goods. Thanks for sharing.

    Signed Pissed. :(

  88. Jeanne says

    I getting really tired of real estate shows clogging the HGTV channel. Isn’t it supposed to be about design? There are plenty of other stations to carry this nonsense. Like maybe, infomercials. Lets get back to good designers and design shows.

    • Marco Falso says

      You are right. I noticed that compared to HGTV of say, 8 years ago and it had a lot of designer related programs like that architect gave 3 choices to a couple and another show with three designers presenting 3 choices for remodel of outdoors or indoors. Things like that. I also like This Old House and I still remember the very first house Bob Vila and Norm Abraham worked on. It was a very old brown house in Boston. Of course that show was staged. I learned from my brother who is a carpenter and wooden boat builder, he read about Norm Abraham oh.. about 15 years ago or so that Norm did not really built furniture or even the houses on This Old House. He had others built furniture first and then they take it apart and Norm step in to rebuilt it or remake it because they did show the finished version at the end of The Old Yankee. It was in a magazine about that.

      However, This Old House is most realistic for any home remodel related program because they actually take their time filming and break down into a season full of espiodes. They do one or two houses per year. They do not get too fancy like those on HGTV.

      One thing I want to add, all of those reality based programs are paid for by those sponsors and they have the money so they have what it is called, branding on the show. Like you seen in the movies they only showed Pepsi. That means Pepsi paid the studio to show their brand into the movie. For example, Ford Motors paid American Idol and only Ford vehicles are used on the program including commericals the singers made and as prizes for the top 2.

      Well, same thing, HGTV shows are paid for by suppliers and that is why you always see granite countertops, stainless steel applicances because sponsors wanted shows to showcase their finest, most expensive products then you will noticed that during commerical breaks, same products. Sears did that for Extreme Home Makeover. Commericals and in the show. You noticed that? Yes, EHM was staged too. They did not need to tear down houses but fix up. I caught Ty said in first few years he said that they will try to fix up old houses but instead, they tear down and rebuilt. No wonder so many people are broke and cant afford to live in those rebuilt and forced to sell and move into old crappy homes again. This is partial why the show dismise. I stopped watching long time ago because it was too commericalized by Sears and all fancy stuff for people so poor that they can not afford property taxes. They should have stick with double-wides as gifts. But then again, that is income tax. Fix up was best way to go. So, it was staged as well. I knew that when they did a house near here and I know that house was not too bad and they ruined it by tear it down and rebuilt it. (It was near Auburn, NY for a disabled boxing teacher).

  89. Rachael says

    Wow, congrats Julia. I read this story on your website a couple of days ago and then saw it pop up on the front page of MSNBC! I think a lot more people will be discovering your lovely site and postings. Well Done.

  90. Ray says

    Hasn’t been the same since Suzie Whang left. Also, the most contrived part of the show is when they show a poor couple trying to navigate their morning routine in their single-sink master bathroom. Really? You can’t manage your time and take turns? Come on.

  91. says

    I’ve heard that this show was fake before, but I had NO idea it was this bad! Touring your friend’s houses and pretending you’re considering them? What the…? Crazy! Thanks for sharing this story.

    • says

      They’re sending me crazy amounts of traffic right now. I’m amazed my blog is still keeping up with it all! Thanks, Jen!

  92. Realtor Alex says

    Being a Realtor, I saw this was fake from the first moment I saw the show. The “clients” don’t act like real buyers. It’s entertaining to see the diff properties, that’s about it.

  93. says

    Your story made the Drudge Report! It wasn’t a surprise to me, as you’d already reported this same story from others in past blog posts.HH has grated on my every nerve for years now. If I here one more couple whine about stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, I think I’ll explode! HGTV has lost it’s shine for me. I really miss the shows like Decorating Cents (what ever happened to Joan Steffend? I miss her!) that made home decorating realistic and fun. Now, it seems as though every room on every show looks the same. Sadly, the HGTV effect is homogenizing homes across the country. Not my house!

  94. Totally fake says

    I can definitely confirm the shows are “fake”. I’ve done a few shows for them and to be fair at least the Production company I was working with (Pie Town Productions) the producers were good and always didn’t try to tell you what to say. I worked with the same crew a few times and they were all great.

    It’s true that in ALL of the shows I worked with the property was already long purchased and they faked looking at 3 other properties. The show even asked me to arrange to line up the other properties and they were either friend’s properties or owners that I knew that allowed me to show them. One time a friend cancelled at the last minute and I even had to use my own apartment!

    They explained to me (this was for House Hunters International) that the production costs are too high to chance a sale falling through so they told me that almost always the property was long since purchased. Also, it’s impossible to find the same properties still on the market when they do the show so they always have to fake the 2 other visits.

    At least they asked me to find 2 other properties in the same price range.

    However, where I drew the line is HGTV stopped working with Pie Town Productions and another production company once contacted me to “fake be the realtor” for their clients. I drew the line there. At least with clients in my shows, they were true clients. But this other production company wanted me to fake be the realtor on the show for people I had NEVER met before.

    These shows are all staged.

    • says

      Wow! Thanks for filling in more of the story. I have been contacted by a few people over the years who said they knew some of the Realtors on the show were just actors, but this confirms it.

    • Marco Falso says

      Pie Town Production.. sounds familiar….on another channel.. namely SyFy. Is that the one with red and white colors bars that looks like Rising Sun flag as part of logo? I got to find that out. If it is, that would be Destination Truth. Also True or Faked: Paranormal Files. Both are staged very clear. I can tell because when I first saw True or Faked, the show was so staged. They knew many of those witnesses’ photos or videos are faked and they want to debunk it. I knew how and they go on and on trying to debunk and all. What a waste. Same with Destination Truth. Josh Gates.. haha. The way he talks sounds more like a snake-oil salesman going on cryptozoological investigations. He makes it awesome than serious on trying to find Bigfoot and all.

      Hey, you noticed the names of the shows are very similar: House Hunters and House Hunters International and the Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International? Something fishy here.

      Ghost Adventures are staged way big time because Zak Banges (spelling?) and his crew are circus freak hosts. They go wow finding ghosts or “ghosts”–fake to fool audience to scare them more like a Halloween fake haunted house than a real one.

      I know what I am saying is not really related to this but my point is made that all are staged and they are all connected somehow.

  95. Sam Adams says

    The sad part is HGTV originally hit a gold mine. They WERE catering to an audience that is into wanting to know how to make their home they ALREADY OWN more beautiful both inside and out. The channel has always been short on the “garden” part, but now has essentially turned itself into the “House Hunters” channel. Even the shows which do home improvements like Divine Design have turned into scripted (and very poor) entertainment rather than “how to make your living room look spectacular.” I really don’t care about the personalities on the show, or the antics they engage in off-camera. I’m more interested in WHAT they are doing to make a room, house, lawn, garden look great and function well and how to do it the “right way” without making more of a mess of things.

    If they would just get back to their market, HGTV would serve themselves and their audience (and thus their advertisers) much better. There are enough “reality” fake TV shows. We don’t need House Hunters or its spin-off on top of the pile of dung we have already in that category.

  96. says

    This is my favorite HGTV show, and I knew it was largely staged. However, I am disappointed that they had them tour homes that weren’t even for sale! That’s going too far, in my opinion…

  97. says

    I’ve watched the show, and always just assumed that they only filmed three of the houses that the couple was looking at… I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the show is fake since it seems that most reality TV is.

    BTW this story is huge. I saw it on CNN this morning.

  98. HGTVFan says

    >>shabbychick June 11, 2012 at 9:58 am
    Doesn’t it make you wonder what else HGTV isn’t telling us? Like maybe the sets on Design Star aren’t really the designers own work, but the pros “help” the one they want to win – and the competition begins with the winner already chosen in the judges mind?

    Yeah. Makes me wonder. I’m also wondering these days why first “Design Star” winner David Bromstead has become the face of HGTV these days. How many shows does he have to be on? I mean, he has his “Color Splash” show, recently appeared on “Design on a Dime,” and is now instead of Tanika Ray, I see he’s now the host AND mentor to this season’s “Design Star.” Like the dude. Think he’s talented. But I don’t need to see him everywhere. I’ve seen enough. Would rather see some other winners on the network — namely former “Design Star” winner Kim Myles. Loved her show “Myles of Style,” which was abruptly taken off too soon. In fact, there seems to be no African-American or minority representation (other than Vern or maybe David) on that network at all. I may start to turn that channel a little more often and stop supporting the show if I don’t start to see some diversity. I’m bored with the same old-same old.

  99. Amanda says

    this is SOOOOOOOOO TRUE!!!! I believe her! When we were closing in on our house, our realator asked us how we felt about being on Tv? He said it was for the show House Hunters. My husband and I laughed, making jokes about how we were going to go into other houses pretending to be interested in buying them AFTER we just closed. We thought this was weird and maybe he was confused. But now that I hear this, I have to say to you all that this show is indeed fake. All the people you see that are house hunting have already closed on a home already, and the other houses they look at are not even for sale. Most of them are closed on, too.

  100. Anon says

    Long time (years) lurker, first time posting. I was telling a friend of mine from the Washington DC area about this post, and she said it was mentioned on her local radio station today!

  101. says

    I miss the old days of HGTV when the shows were about decorating, crafts, holidays, etc.

  102. Jane says

    I think it’s fair to say that no one will be hiring Bobbi Jensen for a job that involves confidentiality- which is pretty much any job that counts. And you can forget about her friends or family telling her any secrets. Sheesh! Loose lips, lady…

    • BARBARA says

      @JANE, You are so wrong about Bobi. She is very well respected and far from having loose lip. And her integrity will get her a job. But for now she a stay at home mom doing what she loves most.

    • says

      It wasn’t really a secret. HGTV has talked about it in the press over the years and never tried to hide it. It’s all over the Internet already–I first reported on it on 2010 and I wasn’t the first.

      I never understand people who get mad when other people tell the truth. What’s that about? This was about something fairly insignificant in the realm of things, after all. It’s just entertainment. What would you think about a whistleblower who broke a story that was truly important to the world? Sorry if you don’t like the truth, but there’s no reason to shoot the messenger.

    • says

      Loose lips? About the truth? Well, then so be it. I hope I have “loose lips” about the truth for the rest of my life. If there was a job that wanted me to keep the truth hidden, then that isn’t a job I want to have.

  103. Gail says

    I heard about this story on Fox & Friends although I had previously heard about the buyers having already closed on their houses. My pet peeves are the people looking for ” charm and character ” in 100 year old houses (I bought my townhouse brand new) and the ones complaining about having neighbors nearby. Here in Florida all the neighborhoods are densely packed, so unless they are buying a country farm, I do not understand this complaint.

  104. Jeremy says

    This is so true. My wife and I was excepted to be on an episode that would have been filmed in Louisiana. First off you only get paid 500 dollars a piece. Second everything thats done is fake. We already had purchased our house and we had to go to houses that we would have never bought and and filmed. I backed out of it because it was so fake. The network was very pissed. Screw them!!

  105. says

    I love HGTV, but I hate House Hunters. I get to watch those sometimes because my husband loves it. It doesn’t bother me anything staged on those shows as I’m in more for the information and ideas, and sometimes it can be nice to see different houses in different places. What really irritates me are the dialogues in those shows, the majority of buyers talk like a bunch of mentally retards, now they might have an excuse for that.

    In any case, I prefer to watch HGTV early mornings and afternoons. DIY Network is being a lot better than HGTV nowadays.

  106. Jack says

    I simply don’t understand people who participate in something so utterly ridiculous, then bitch about it. The masses are asses.

    • says

      It might seem ridiculous for others, but I was a big fan of the show and enjoyed being on it. I also enjoyed telling Julia about it.

  107. Mary says

    I’ve been following Hooked on Houses for months and can’t believe where this story has gone. Now Good Morning America! Only problem with their story was that they gave Bobbi credit for “her blog”. I sure that was just a mistake on GMA’s part.

    • says

      They wanted to interview me for it, but I declined. I’ve had enough publicity this week to last a lifetime. I’m happy to just stay right here behind my computer… :-)

    • says

      I also have a blog where the episode is embedded for people to watch (which Julia linked to in the original post). I think that is why they may have gotten confused. All the links they share in print are to Julia’s blog here as far as I know, though :)

  108. says

    Great post Julia – can’t believe all the coverage. I always wondered about “House Hunters” though I only enjoy “House Hunters International” as a way to see homes elsewhere in the world.

    I learned many were fake after I saw Paige from “Trading Spaces” in a Broadway play. She’s just an actress! As a designer I cringe with fellow design bloggers at most of the design shows as being unrealistic but was a little surprised to learn “House Hunters” is so produced.

  109. Janey says

    Saw the piece on GMA today. So the producers asked the husband, a real estate agent, to find other houses to visit that were actually for sale and he couldn’t do it? Sounds like he’s a lousy realtor. You’d think a guy who spends everyday selling houses would have the ability to convince home sellers to let him borrow their houses for a day. Is he still an agent? If so, then don’t hire that guy.

    • Melissa says

      He found lots of houses. The problem was that none of the owners would give their permission to have their house featured for the show. That is why they finally resorted to friends’ houses.

    • says

      He was a great Realtor, although he left the business to pursue a different dream that required further education. In my opinion he was excellent in real estate and got so much referral business because he is sincere and honest. He was unwilling to “trick” or “convince” someone to have their house filmed without them knowing exactly what was going on. Would you want your house toured, critiqued on national television, and ultimately not chosen when you are trying to sell it? I think that’s where the people he called were coming from. It’s a lot more to ask than just “borrowing” the home for a day, and I respect much more that he was honest with people than whether or not he could “convince” someone to do something they were uncomfortable with.

  110. sierramarie says

    To even call out this show is ridiculous. What was the point? This information could have been kept unsaid.

  111. Joe says

    No surprise there. I was on My First Place and it was just as fake.

  112. Linda says

    I watched a Househunters a year or so ago that was set in my town. They had everything completely wrong. The houses they showed were not in the charming 18th and 19th century, expensive “old and historic” district they kept featuring in the “chat” sections but were in a lesser nearby mid-20th century neighborhood that was just OK and literally on the other side of the tracks . I had to laugh when the “expert” was trying to explain away the busy freeway that divides the town. The clients who were dead right kept trying to explain why they didn’t want a house that backed up to it and were poo-pooed by the expert from afar who didn’t know what he was talking about. He could have profitably spent 20 minutes with a local real estate agent before filming.

  113. paige says

    Why Ms Jesen, did you decide to ruin this show for so many people geeshhh

    • says

      I didn’t know it would be so many people. I did not broadcast it as national news. I simply did this interview here on the site Hooked on Houses. She had reported it years previously, as had others, and this was simply another one of her behind the scenes articles for her blog readers. Neither of us expected it to go viral, nor expected it to be shocking news that would “ruin” anything for viewers.

  114. ... says

    I’d be more surprised to find out that a reality show is NOT staged.

  115. Adam says

    Why must everyone in this country insist on being so negative. House Hunters is purely an entertainment show for those of us who have an addiction to the real estate whirlwind.
    I think it is shameful of this family to try and expose something that is a non issue really I mean aren’t there bigger issues in this messed up country we are living in!!
    Everyone just continues to try and get the elusive “15 minutes of fame”……
    Contribute your time to something really wothwhile Jensen family.

    • says

      I didn’t know it would affect so many people. I did not broadcast it as national news. I simply did this interview here on the site Hooked on Houses. She had reported it years previously, as had others, and this was simply another one of her behind the scenes articles for her blog readers who are regularly discussing celebrity houses, HGTV shows, etc. Neither of us expected it to go viral, nor expected it to be shocking news that would “ruin” anything for viewers.

  116. Morp says

    I’ve worked on many HH shoots, as well as dozens of other shows for HGTV and other networks.

    Doing several takes for a scene is not uncommon at all, nor is it misleading the audience. The folks we use for the shows are not trained actors or media personalities. THEY need the extra takes so they don’t look bad. If Mr. Realtor needed six takes, it’s because he was messing up. The average scene takes 2-3 takes, but six is the “talent’s” fault.

    Honestly, that’s why.

    I’ve seen an average Joe homeowner stumble over his own tongue when trying to recite a five-word sentence (that he composed in the first place. There is no script, just certain things they need to put in their own words for story purposes). It happens all the time. We have key points we need to hit in order to tell a story, otherwise the show would be a mess of non-sequiturs, rambling dialogue and shots of people doing things that made no sense to the audience. The homeowners are pre-screened, and in some situations already own their homes, but not all of them. I’ve worked on many HH shows in which the buyer was actually still looking for a home.

    What people don’t understand is that we need to do a certain amount of staging of scenes in order for the information to make sense. It’s storytelling 101, not some conspiracy to fool the public into thinking “reality TV” is real. The bloggers who are somehow outraged at the fact that shows like HH need to be planned out in advance always baffle me. What planet do you people live on? Why would you expect ANYTHING on television to be 100% real? Here’s a better question: Would you even WATCH a show that is 100 real%? Absolutely not. I guarantee it.

  117. Morp says

    I’ve worked on many HH shoots, as well as dozens of other shows for HGTV and other networks.

    Doing several takes for a scene is not uncommon at all, nor is it misleading the audience. The folks we use for the shows are not trained actors or media personalities. THEY need the extra takes so they don’t look bad. If Mr. Realtor needed six takes, it’s because he was messing up. The average scene takes 2-3 takes, but six is the “talent’s” fault.

    Honestly, that’s why.

    I’ve seen an average Joe homeowner stumble over his own tongue when trying to recite a five-word sentence (that he composed in the first place. There is no script, just certain things they need to put in their own words for story purposes). It happens all the time. We have key points we need to hit in order to tell a story, otherwise the show would be a mess of non-sequiturs, rambling dialogue and shots of people doing things that made no sense to the audience. The homeowners are pre-screened, and in some situations already own their homes, but not all of them. I’ve worked on many HH shows in which the buyer was actually still looking for a home.

    What people don’t understand is that we need to do a certain amount of staging of scenes in order for the information to make sense. It’s storytelling 101, not some conspiracy to fool the public into thinking “reality TV” is real. The bloggers who are somehow outraged at the fact that shows like HH need to be planned out in advance always baffle me. What planet do you people live on? Why would you expect ANYTHING on television to be 100% real? Here’s a better question: Would you even WATCH a show that is 100 real%? Absolutely not. I guarantee it.

  118. HT says

    I was on My First Place and everything was real. We bought our house and we still live in it. I would agree with the person who says that you are sort of micro manage, but not in a bad way. You have to call them every time you do anything so that the can get a camera crew there, however concerning the houses we looked at ALL real houses we considered. We got the buyer to throw in a finished basement and a few other things. Also, ALL real. So I find to surprising to hear this about House Hunters.

  119. HT says

    My husband and I were on My First Place. We looked at the houses shown on the show and we actually closed on it as shown on our episode. We still live in the house and everything that happened and was shown was true. ALL the houses shown were ones considered. The only one comment that I would agree with is that you are micro managed. Not in a bad way, but every time you are going to do anything related to the house, you have to call them so that they can get a film crew there. Considering our experience I am surprised to hear this about House Hunters.

  120. NJ Mike says

    “My hubby hates “being fake,” so the fact that they had us do 5 or 6 takes on each scene drove him nuts.

    He has since left Real Estate and now works as attorney….”

    And you claim he hates being fake? SO why did he become a professional prevaricator and calumnist?

    • Casey says

      Good Morning America called, they would like to interview “NJ Mike” as he has insider information that all attorneys are professional liars.

  121. carolyn g. says

    NEWS FLASH: Most “reality” shows airing in the USA are FAKE, including all the idiotic bachelor and bachelorette tripe. The networks will sell whatever crap people are willing to watch, even packaging “entertainment” shows about people’s mental illnesses such as hoarding and OCD.

    Try PBS, or maybe even a good book from the library.

  122. Rebecca C says

    On a different note than most of the comments here (I don’t really watch much TV), I just wanted to say that your house is lovely!

  123. Ice says

    I’m less concerned about these shows being staged, but I always want to know more about the couples background. For example, I just finished watching an episode of Property Virgins and I am trying to understand how a young couple can even consider buying a $500,000 house? It’s not like they are introduced as a doctor and a lawyer. It’s like…….. he’s a computer guy and she’s a school teacher. Where the heck are they getting enough $$$ to buy a $500,000 house? I think it misleads people who are new to homebuying that it’s normal to buy a super expensive house, unless they give it some context. My first home in 1993 cost 75k. I worked my way up to a 300k home. I live in the South where prices are lower but you get my point…….. young couples just starting out don’t need to put all their savings into a house they really can’t afford…… bad advice.

  124. Lindsey says

    I really cannot believe everyone’s reactions. Obviously some of the show has to be staged and scripted. Everyone knows that when buying a house you see more than three. The show is more for the fun of the game for the audience. I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal that it is fake. Western Warmth- I understand you were dissapointed, but why on earth did you sign up to go on the show? You knew before you even began filming that you had already closed on a house, so it had to be staged. If you knew that from the beginning, either don’t do the show, or don’t bitch about it.

    • says

      Oh, my goodness, I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but she’s not bitching about it. She wasn’t unhappy. She had a great time, and we thought my readers would be interested to hear how the show is made. It’s supposed to be a fun little peek behind the scenes. She signed up because she’s a fan of the show and still is.


  125. NOT TRUE says

    This is not true! This is a made up story. HGTV could get in big trouble for misleading people. It is true that the people looking for a house do know them beforehand, but the rest isn’t true.

    • says

      Actually, HGTV made a statement and admitted it. It has never been a secret, really. They were always open about the way the process works and it has been printed many times in articles and blog posts. They said they need to do it this way to cut down on production costs and time.

  126. Ndian River says

    People, it is just a show to show people the process of looking an buying a house. We don’t watch the show because of the houses but how the process is carried out. For those of us trying to be a new home own, I find the show very interesting.

    It is sad that we take this show so seriously which doesn’t effect our lives but we don’t pay serious attention to the News Media that tells stories and false report and make up and support one opinion instead of reporting the event and let us decide. It is unbelievable how we are worried about TV show when people are unemployed and Dodd-Frank Bill om Housing which caused all this financial mess because of their goal to create equality in the housing market by having Federal Government back loans that they knew this buyers couldn’t afford to pay. What a pity.

    It is just a show.