House Hunters – Fake?

A couple of weeks ago, a woman who was on the popular HGTV show, House Hunters (in 2006), said in an interview that it’s purely staged.  Did you catch this news (and a video from gma here)?

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I’ve often wondered how the show would work logistically to film the home viewing process as it can take place over a number of months.  Then, to narrow it down to three homes,  and be there to know if all goes well with closing, and so forth.  So, of course, it’s at least a little set up; there had to be some production in play in order to sum it up in 30 minutes.

But is it this set up?

Bobi Jensen, who was featured on the show in 2006, wrote on her blog, Western Warmth, that the producers of the show didn’t accept her family for an episode until they had already closed on the house they wanted (I better apply now!).   So, when they were ready to film, they had to scramble to find homes to pretend they were considering.   Apparently, they couldn’t find agents willing to agree to let them show their homes.

The other two homes showcased as prospective buys belonged to friends of the family.  They were not even for sale.   The couple said the show told them to just find homes, any homes.  The show says it was a unique idea from the home owners to show homes of friends.

If it’s so fake, why did they agree to it?  The husband was a realtor so they saw it as free advertising for him.

Now, I must say, Bobi did not do an interview on another blog and then write on her own blog about her experience in order to out the show.  She has been very gracious, still loves HGTV and wishes them the best.

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“House Hunters” has released a statement about the claim:

We’ve learned that the pursuit of the perfect home involves big decisions that usually take place over a prolonged period of time — more time than we can capture in 30 minutes of television. However, with a series like House Hunters, HGTV viewers enjoy the vicarious and entertaining experience of choosing a home — from establishing a budget, to touring properties and weighing the pros and cons of each one. We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions. Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties. Showcasing three homes makes it easier for our audience to “play along” and guess which one the family will select. It’s part of the joy of the House Hunters viewing experience. Through the lens of television, we can offer a uniquely satisfying and fun viewing experience that fulfills a universal need to occasionally step into someone else’s shoes.

The somewhat vague statement seems to, at least in part, leave open the question of whether or not House Hunters is totally fake.

What are your thoughts?   Will this deter you from watching the show?  How staged do you think it is?  Do you think maybe it doesn’t matter as the joy is getting to look inside of homes and to see the markets in various cities?

kristysig

15 Comments :

  1. Kristy, This is actually true! Someone close to me was approached when they were selling their home in Cary to see if they would participate with “House Hunters” as the losing home to the couple’s already chosen home. Naturally, they were like uhhhh nuh. Who wants to have their house look like a dud on tv?!?!

    • Thank you! So many people have asked why we didn’t give houses that were already for sale “a chance.” We called and tried so hard to and the homeowners felt this way – like why would they want to be on TV as the losing house? I totally got where they were coming from.

  2. I just figure everything is staged anymore, and to me the point of watching tv is to be entertained. As long as I’m still entertained I’ll keep watching. Guess that also helps explain why I can turn off Keeping up with the Kardashians ;)

  3. Kathy Schikevitz

    My friend and realtor had a very similar experience. She had a client that submitted to be on the show. They were in the closing period when signed on and then when they came back to film, they selected two houses that were currently on the market….two they didn’t even consider when they were looking. It’s still an interesting show although I prefer the international version. I’m not quite sure why people sign up unless just to get a little bit of fame.

  4. I have wondered for awhile about just how much “production” went into the show. I don’t watch as much as I use to because I can always tell which house they are going to pick…which is why it started to seem fishy to me. On the other hand just because that is what happened on the episodes that they filmed (sounds like the network didn’t plan well and ran out of time) doesn’t mean that is what happens on all episodes…who know? All TV is fake. I still like to watch the show now and then.

  5. I love watching this with my hubby and we often wonder if the show is real. How can they narrow down to three houses and have everything filmed? Oh well. I think I’ll still watch though. I like looking in other people’s houses.

  6. I’ve heard the show is totally “fake” as well! I kind of like the concept of the show…but…I have a hard time finding the buyers convincing. (Really, you can’t find a house that you like with a $800,000 budget and a family of 4?!) Maybe I’m cynical. :-)

  7. HMMM, I don’t really mind it’s staged. I love watching the International version just for the exoticness of it. BUT it does bother me in that I hate when the ‘potential buyer’ rags meanly on a house. If they know it’s staged and not a choice, why say mean things about how someone’s decorated, etc. This always bothers me on the show anyway (I always think of the poor, horrified homeowner watching his/her house torn apart on TV) BUT knowing the person was never interested in it, why be mean? Blech.

  8. I always just assumed it was fake. I think the horrible acting sucks me in.

  9. I used to like watching house hunters occasionally, but when I heard a while back that it was completely staged I just couldn’t watch anymore. The “acting” is TERRIBLE and since I know now that it’s completely contrived it just makes it that much worse.

  10. I’ve always found this show annoying because of how oddly picky the couples appear to be, so I’m no surprised that it’s a fake. It is still entertaining to watch though!

  11. Ugh, House Hunters is pretty much unwatchable for me! I understand that not everyone out there is the DIY type and the thought of painting a room is too much for them to bear…. But come on! It’s HGTV! An entire network devoted to redecorating your house! I have seen way too many bitchy women just knit picking these houses apart. I totally understand if there’s something major missing from your must haves list, but paint and some left over design decisions are a pretty easy fix. I also really hate it when people that have a teeny tiny budget scoff at the homes they can afford. Did they learn nothing from the burst of the housing bubble?

    Ok, I’m done with my rant about house hunters. You can find me watching Property Brothers or Income Property.

    Nikki Kelly @ the ambitious procrastinator

    • I completely agree…which is part of why I did the interview that led to this story. I cringe when I watch the episode we did as I say the things the producers told me to about the house being too small. I hate perpetuating that myth that we all just need more square footage. I don’t live my life that way. There are 6 of us now and we have lived in smaller spaces since (comfortably!). I think this may be the case with a lot of the subjects of househunters. In real life they might not be all that picky…just saying what the producers think will be interesting to viewers.

  12. Cyndia Montgomery

    I think House Hunters is one of the most disappointing things HGTV has ever offered. The network used to be innovative and exciting to those of us who want to make our homes beautiful. The gardening aspect of the network has all but disappeared. Perhaps the network itself has outlived its usefulness. I can’t bear to watch anymore.

  13. I once met a man on a plane and he told me the same thing. He had bought a house in St. Thomas and he said the show contacted him and said they wanted to do an episode about the house they had just bought. He said they even had to rearrange furniture so it would look different when they were “house hunting” and when they moved in. I haven’t watched the show since.

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