HGTV’s House Hunters is fake, but buyer details just how staged it is

House Hunters, the HGTV series that follows people looking at three different houses before deciding to buy one, is fake, which is not a surprise to most people who’ve seen the show. But someone who was on the show six years ago details just how inauthentic the show actually is, including featuring houses that weren’t even for sale as the other options.

The show’s staged components have been obvious and reported on for some time. As Consumerist notes, “it’s usually incredibly easy to sort out which of the houses the buyer will select in the end — it’s the empty one, because the buyers have already gone into escrow on the property and are just waiting to close.”

But there’s more to it than that. Bobbi Jensen writes about her experience for Hooked on Houses; she appeared on an episode of House Hunters: Texas.

She writes that they weren’t cast “until we closed on the house we were buying,” which meant a “scramble to find houses to tour and pretend we were considering.” Amazingly, she reveals that “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!”

Bobbi says there’s another giveaway as to which house the featured buyers will choose: How they look on camera. That’s because “[t]here 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.” She adds that “My hubby hates ‘being fake,’ so the fact that they had us do 5 or 6 takes on each scene drove him nuts.”

Why even bother with this charade? Why have non-actors try to act–and that’s pretty much one of the giveaways on this show, how completely bad the subjects are at feigning interest in the fake houses–and pretend they’re interested in houses that aren’t even for sale? It’s one thing to have buyers show the cameras houses they were considering but didn’t actually buy, but another to have them act is if they were going to buy their friends’ not-for-sale homes. Really stupid and pointless.

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Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.