Is the drama of HGTV's 'House Hunters' fake?
A participant's report that the houses they toured were neighbors' homes that weren't even for sale raises questions. Surely, you didn't think anyone could buy a house that easily, right?
We'd be remiss if we didn't bring you news on the latest scandal rocking the housing world: HGTV's show "House Hunters" reportedly is faked.
You're not surprised? Neither are we, though that's partly because we have read a number of posts by Julia Sweeten at "Hooked on Houses" about how the show is done, including this 2010 post that pointed out that the homeowners really have already chosen a home before they start filming.
In case you've never seen the show, here's a quick recap: Prospective homebuyers tour three homes they supposedly are considering. At the end of the show, they choose one. This show always has a happy ending.
Post continues below
But apparently, some of the "drama" of this reality show is staged. (We are shocked, shocked, to hear that reality TV is not real. But really, how seriously can you take a would-be buyer's worry that a house priced at $176,000 is over his $175,000 budget?)
Bobi Jensen of San Antonio, who has her own Western Warmth blog, said to Sweeten:
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.
Jensen told Hooked on Houses that "House Hunters" didn't accept the couple for the show until after they had closed on their new home. And the couple themselves had to find the two other houses to tour. During the hot real-estate market of 2006, they couldn't find real sellers who wanted their homes on the show, so they toured two friends' homes and pretended to consider homes they pretended were for sale.
Jensen told USA Today that HGTV makes it clear during the selection process that only couples who have already closed on a home will be considered "because they don't want to waste their time on anyone who's still in the decision-making process." But the buyers can't have moved into the home yet because they will need to tour it and pretend to be debating whether to buy it. The participants get $500 for four days of filming.
HGTV did not comment specifically on Jensen's story or on how often the homes toured by the buyers not only never were considered but also may not even have been for sale. But HGTV programming executive Brian Balthazar said in a statement to USA Today:
We're making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the homebuying 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.
Since the show aired, Jensen and her husband have added two more children to their family. All six of them lived in a considerably smaller townhouse in Omaha, Neb., while her husband, who was the real-estate agent in the TV episode, went to law school.
She still likes HGTV and is bemused by all the furor her story has caused. She writes:
I think their practices are the only efficient way to handle a show such as this. Could they really follow a couple around who looks at a few houses every weekend and six months later decides on one? What if they changed their mind and decided to rent a few more years? … NO ONE looks at three houses and then picks one and "gets the call" that it is theirs, without at least a little more drama. I assume people know this. How could HGTV afford to keep flying the producer out, etc? I think people just haven't realized this is purely entertainment and have a lot of expectations of "reality" for reality TV that would be nearly impossible or unaffordable to pull off.
What do you think? Are you surprised? Outraged? Or did you suspect that this was how the show was organized all along?
Just because it is HGTV doesn't mean they are above the staged acts of reality tv. But, none the less, who gives a crap! It's fun to watch.
Well, anyone who has a brain could have figured that out the first time they watched the show; The show is still great... TV is just that TV... You could have found something more interesting to talk about on your MSN home page... Really?
tv is fake. you just havent come out of your stuper long enough to see what it has done to your brain. really, if you quit for just a week you wont belive how low the I.Q. it takes to watch.
i love this show, but of course knew it was staged and produced.....i watch it cuz i love to see what homes cost in other parts of the country----i'm always so jealous what money will buy outside of california!!! like chatty cathy, i am nosey and like to see what other people do with their homes.
i had no idea exactly what the process was, but am not at all surprised.
anyone who thinks a "reality show" is real is very naive! the first clue is that the couples always agree on what house to buy. the second was how little time it takes to get an answer, and most telling, how the camera crew always happens to be there when the people get the call from their realtor!!!
but i don't watch the show for any other reason than to see real estate in other parts of the world...and it's fun to see persnickety, clueless couples who are so obnoxious! they aren't the norm, but when they are featured, it's even more fun to watch!
What kills me is how these shows downplay a Real Estate Transaction. Anyone who has purchased a home and all parties involved in the transaction know that there are many steps and much negotiation to be had in order for a home to be sold. There is a reason it takes an average of 30 days to close escrow!!!
But I guess if the producers of these shows don’t want to work themselves and make everything up, then they feel they need to make everyone else’s jobs look easy! A Real Estate transaction is anything but easy!
i think most people are smart enough to know that you can search for, find and pruchase a home in 30 minutes. obviously they have already bought houses are they could'nt have moved in. if you actually watch the show you realize the follow up is done a few months later.
the point of the show is not to show the months and months of time it takes to buy a house but to help educate and entertain people. to educate you some on the process and prices in different areas of the world. it is also to entertain so alot of the boring stuff of buyinh a house is left out. only an idiot would think the show is a step by step process and fit that into 30 minutes
House Hunters has a lot of viewers and thats why the "media" is trying to put negative info out there. Stop watching what the "media" is trying to put in your head, and continue watching HGTV!!!!
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.