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HGTV fan? This is for you!

Whenever I mention the popular HGTV series House Hunters, I get e-mails from readers asking, “Do you know the truth about that show?” I just got another one from someone saying, “I’m surprised more people don’t know how House Hunters really works. I was so mad when I found out!”

It’s actually not a secret–the show even explained it in a newspaper article a few years ago, but it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge. Here’s what it said:

For quicker turn-around, producers sometimes choose buyers who are already in escrow with one of the three locations shown. The other two choices that are filmed, are only shown to allow viewers the option of making the choice themselves.

Did you catch that? The house hunters aren’t actually house hunting in some of the episodes because they already bought one. The producers show them two other houses and they pretend to consider them. Then they pretend to deliberate, and pretend tochoose the house that they already chose from the beginning.

Based on the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from people who have written to tell me that they know someone who was on the show and “faked it,” this must be a fairly common practice.

It makes sense from a production point of view. It prevents the problem that we see so often on HGTV’s Property Virgin, in which the house hunters don’t end up choosing anything at all.

According to that same article, the participants get only $500 for being on the show. I was surprised that they earn so little–especially if there’s acting involved! That was a few years ago, though, so maybe they earn more by now.

There can be long hours of filming each house–I heard that they often have to reenter the same room many times until they get it just right for the camera (This explains why sometimes the sun is blazing when they enter the house, but it looks dark outside in laterscenes.)

It is still $500 for four full days if filming. Furthermore, it isn’t just sometimes fake – it is ALWAYS fake. I’ve just gone through this process. They won’t even consider you for the show unless you already have a purchase agreement signed, and have access to both your new home and your former home for the duration of the filming period.

Ever notice how the house the participants choose is almost always EMPTY when they  walk through it on the show for that “first time” and the other two are still furnished? That is because they have already closed on the home they “choose” and just haven’t moved into it yet. The other two “non-chosen” properties are comparable homes found by the participant’s realtor just for purposes of the show.

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:

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…

June 2010 – Article from the web site http//:www.hookedonhouses.net