If you have ever been through the process of buying a house, you know just how grueling it can be. From searching, to making an offer, to closing on the deal, all the way until move-in day, the process can take months, and sometimes even years to complete.
However, when viewers tune in to HGTV’s most popular show House Hunters, all of that stress disappears as the house hunting process is wrapped up in neat, structured 30-minute episodes. The buyers state what they’re looking for, they view three different houses, and the story ends happily ever after in the perfect buy.
This is not always the case in reality, and in fact, it’s also not the case for House Hunters. The show claims to simply be documenting different home buying experiences when it’s actually constructing the process into extremely simple (and, sometimes, pretty unrealistic) affairs.
Since 1999, House Hunters has gone through 126 seasons of very similar episodes that glorify how important buying a home can be. Also, of course, a show that is able to pump out so many episodes for so many years does not come without its own controversies.
Here are the 15 Secrets Behind House Hunters.
15. One contestant bought a house before even getting involved with the show
The biggest thrill of House Hunters is watching buyers go in and out of homes and anticipating which one they’ll ultimately settle on. The sad truth, however, is that much of this process is falsified by production in order to make the filming quicker.
After the sale went through, production came and shot her “looking” at her new home, then took her through two others houses to make it seem like she was choosing between the three. This particular woman had literally gone through the entire buying process before ever meeting anyone involved with House Hunters.
14. Bobi Jensen wasn’t formally accepted until she closed on a house
It shouldn’t be too surprising that some episodes feature subjects that have already purchased a home. When considering time crunches, scheduling, and the sheer amount of episodes that House Hunters makes, then one can assume that they aren’t always filming the entire home buying process from start to finish. However, they can’t be faking every episode of House Hunters, right?
Unfortunately for viewers— similarly to our previous house buyer— House Hunter participant Bobi Jensen from Texas was told by the production team that they would not formally agree to have her on an episode until she actually closed on her house.
13. Jensen claims the producers scripted her episode
One of the greatest (and, admittedly, humorous) parts of House Hunters is the wildly different desires from each of the people involved in the buying process. While this reflects (whether poorly or positively) on the buyers, it is not always genuine.
Bobi Jensen claims that the producers had actually scripted most of the episode she appeared on with her husband. Obviously Jensen had already purchased her home with her husband and made the move, but when she explained her reasons for buying a new home, House Hunters decided their story just wasn’t interesting enough.
12. Buyer Nate claims participants get paid a low fee
When watching a show like House Hunters, many begin to ponder what the catch is. Does House Hunters help with a downpayment? Do participants get a deal of some sort, such as a break on realtor fees? Free furniture? Discounts on home renovation? A fat check to Home Depot? Or any kind of bonus at all? Well, unfortunately, the answer is: none of the above.
A man named Nate, who had made an appearance on House Hunters, claims that the buyers receive a rather low payment— especially considering the popularity of the show, and the backing by HGTV. Nate explained that he only received $500 for his appearance; furthermore, all contestants allegedly only get paid $500, despite how long the process takes.
11. The other houses aren’t always for sale
Alright, at this point we are aware that the best part of the show (aka the big decision on which house to choose) is predetermined before the buyers even announce their budget and must-have list.
However, we can take solace in the fact that those other two houses will find their own happy family. Assuming, of course, that these houses don’t already have happy occupants.
It’s been reported that the unchosen homes (or, as we know now, the houses that don’t already belong to the buyers) are not even for sale. Apparently, once participants close on their homes, production will pick out two other houses in the area for the family to tour. So if these aren’t homes on the housing market, one has to wonder where some of them come from…
10. The other houses sometimes belong to their friends
Instead of finding model homes or empty houses, the House Hunters production team will sometimes have the buyers provide their “choices” instead. However, one must wonder: how does this work? The answer is: House Hunters participants must ask their friends to assist in the process.
Many buyers on the show have reportedly made their friends loan them their homes to tour and pretend to consider as options. This essentially forces their friends spend days cleaning and prepping for production crews in order to make their houses seem as if they are for sale.
9. Jensen’s family had to record “reactions”
In keeping with the ultra-structured show format, production truly does control every single aspect of the show, from setting the cameras right down to the family’s reactions.
In fact, Bobi Jensen claims that the show insisted that her family do as many as five or six takes of reactions each time they were filmed in a different part of the house in order to get the perfect reaction. This fact is even more interesting considering the fact that some of the houses aren’t even for sale.
Since the buyers, in reality, have already bought a home and are simply pretending to view the others, it’s funny to think of some of the reactions they have to make for the different houses they go through.
8. Production fished for family drama in Jensen’s episode
Jensen’s story about appearing on House Hunters offers a lot of insight into the twisted way the show is produced. In addition to telling the family they must close on their house prior to filming, the show also searches for and creates drama within the buyers in order to create a more compelling storyline throughout the episode.
In Jensen’s case, she had mentioned to production that the family had bought a slightly larger house than they previously lived in. House Hunters then took this small fact and unraveled into the biggest tension points throughout the episode.
They encouraged Jensen to continuously reiterate just how tiny their former house was, and how they desperately needed a big one. Jensen admits this was not all true, but technically the new house was larger, so she ran with the story.
7. The show is filmed out of order for dramatic effect
We’ve covered this many times already, but we do know now that the film does not go in the exact, natural order we see in the final product. So it should come as no surprise that the show is filmed entirely out of order. This, of course, has to do with the availability of the houses the buyers and show inevitably borrow.
Another reason the show is filmed out of sequence has to do with the scenes of the buyers’ old and new houses. Those are filmed first, so that the old house still looks lived in, and the new house is still empty.
Former buyers on the show have even said viewers can tell these differences if they pay close attention (here’s a hint: the house they “choose” is usually almost always empty because of this; plus, you can sometimes see how people’s hair styles change throughout the episode).
6. They started showing home prices and budgets for ratings
So many dedicated House Hunters watchers especially tune in to compare housing prices and what kinds of homes a buyer can get on the current market. This was not always the case with House Hunters— in the early years of the show, the budgets and house prices were not even talked about on air. This fact was added in later on in order to boost ratings.
The addition of this has, of course, come with some controversy for the show. Countless memes appear online poking fun at the buyers on the show, who seemingly have low paying jobs but enormous housing budgets.
This kind of divulgence of information makes the show’s following question why House Hunters chooses to share that information in the first place. It could, after all, simply be a show focused on housing design and buyers’ choices.
5. The show has brought in younger actors
Audiences are well aware that “reality” television isn’t always as real as it may seem. However, House Hunters may have just taken it a bit too far when it comes to fudging the truth. Because the show doesn’t just script the dialogue or borrow homes from friends—they also borrow completely different people.
On the popular House Hunters spinoff House Hunters International, there have been multiple instances of production bringing in younger actors to replace the real buyers on TV.
The show was allegedly afraid of a stigma against moving internationally, because retirees have a reputation for being the ones who move to other countries. Take caution when watching the show, because it may not just be the houses that are fake, it may also be the people.
4. A stand-in was provided for participant Tim Hurley
Realtor Tim Hurley appeared on an episode of House Hunters that centered around a couple looking for a new place in New York City. Hurley is also one of many to claim that the couple featured in the episode had already bought a house before even applying to be on the show.
Essentially, Hurley was just acting as a realtor for the production (so no, he did not receive a fee for their purchase, but he did get his name out there as reputable realtor on the market).
Among his claims came a rather shocking one. Hurley allegedly was replaced with a stand-in during a day or two of filming of the episode. Apparently, due to scheduling conflicts, Hurley wasn’t able to do a few shots and instead, the show simply brought in a look-a-like.
3. Episodes of International gloss over real international struggles
If you have ever tuned in for an episode of House Hunters International, then you may have had a moment where you thought to yourself: “why would anyone want to live there?” One would have every right to think that, too.
In one episode in particular, a couple decided to relocate to Istanbul, Turkey, but the transition was not as smooth as one may have thought.
House Hunters fails to recognize that people moving internationally may not speak the same language, they may not integrate well into the culture, make many friends, or may be in the middle of international conflicts in the place they now call home. Or— as many have found— a family may move out of country and find it to be boring and less-than-glamorous.
~2. The house prices are not accurate
We already know that House Hunters decided to integrate budgets and prices into the show in order to give it more appeal and boost the ratings. However, does this information really mean anything to the viewer at home? As it turns out, it probably doesn’t— because, apparently, many of the prices shown are not real.
The buyers’ budgets may be accurate, though, and the “winning” house price is most likely real; but this is because the buyers have already purchased their home. Therefore, that information is accessible.
However, the other homes (who are often borrowed from friends) do not always compare to realistic market values. That’s because despite location, square footage, and appraisal, the details are skewed in order to compare to the couple’s needs to fit the storyline.
1. The original narrator left the show for unknown reasons
House Hunters has seen a few narrators come and go for various reasons throughout its nearly twenty year history. Suzanne Whang was the first ever voice of the show, but she left after being on the show for almost a decade.
The strangest part of her departure is that no one truly knows why she left in the first place. Whang’s own comment on the matter simply stated that she left the show and has since pursued other successful ventures.
HGTV has never really formally commented on any of the narrators’ departures; in fact, Whang’s photo was featured on the official House Hunters page on the HGTV website long after she had resigned.
Longtime fans of the show were reportedly furious when Whang left, and some even boycotted the show afterward. This, of course, had very little impact on the show, which is now reaching nearly 1,800 episodes.
Can you think of any other dark secrets about House Hunters? Let us know in the comment section!
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