House Hunters: 10 Behind The Scenes Secrets
After nearly 20 years in production, HGTV’s House Hunters has become one of the most popular home reality series on TV. Debuting in 1999, the show attracts 25 million views a month. It also prompted 13 spin-offs including House Hunters International, House Hunters Off the Grid, and Tiny House Hunters. Despite the show’s formulaic nature, it continues to be a guilty pleasure for both established and inspiring homeowners. But like any reality series, there’s some behind-the-scenes secrets that contribute to the show’s success. Here’s our list of 10 things you didn’t know about House Hunters.
10. The Show Is Staged
Like most reality shows, House Hunters is largely staged. In 2012, the blog Hooked on Houses broke the news that the show was scripted. HGTV confirmed the news by saying that the show’s producers like to have a quick turn-around, and select participants that have already chosen a home prior to filming.
9. Not House Hunting
In fact, the participants have not only chosen a home, they’ve already bought it! House Hunters’ producers search for participants who have recently purchased a home and are in escrow. The 2 other homes featured in the episode are not actually options for the participants. Rather, HGTV states that the “other two choices that are filmed, are only shown to allow viewers the option of making the choice themselves.”
8. Access To Homes
To be involved on the show, home buyers must still have access to their first home. The producers like to film the participants in their initial home, even though in reality the home buyers are in the process of packing up their belongings.
7. House Selection
Want to know a trick for telling which home the buyers choose? They’ll usually select the home that appears the most empty. This is because the home has already been sold to the show’s participants and is usually cleared out. Another cue is the changing hair styles. The producers shoot the participants in their old house and their new house around the same time frame, and then revisit the participants months later to film them going through the other 2 homes.
6. Houses Not On Market
Bobi Jensen, who was a participant on House Hunters, revealed that not all of the other housing options are on the market. When she and her family were featured on the show, they had to scramble to find houses they could pretend to tour. They used 2 homes that belonged to their friends, who offered them for filming.
5. Changed Storylines
The show’s producers often tweak participants’ stories to suit the show. If they feel a particular storyline has been overdone, they won’t hesitate to change it to something they feel is more interesting for viewers. In Jensen’s case, she planned to buy a bigger home and turn her other home into a rental. The producers felt the show would do better if she and her husband emphasized that they were desperate to find a bigger home for their family, even though this wasn’t true.
4. Rehearsed Reactions
The best part of the show is watching the participants visit potential homes to decide whether the spaces fit their needs. However, many of these scenes are rehearsed or reenacted, and require 5-6 takes. The show’s producers don’t shy away from this fact, and say that the emotions are still genuine. The show’s publicist told EW, “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.” For some participants, re-shooting scenes can be annoying because they are expected to make pretend pros and cons lists. They also have to reenter rooms several times before the moment is properly captured on camera.
Most episodes of House Hunters require 3 days of filming, although it can sometimes take longer. Participants are paid $500 for appearing on the show, regardless of how many days and hours are required to film the episode. That doesn’t seem like very much!
2. Suzanne Whang’s Disappearance
From 1999 to 2007, Suzanne Whang was the host of House Hunters. After 8 years, she was replaced by a narrator, which prompted many fans to wonder what happened to her. According to an interview in Hooked On Houses, Whang left to pursue new ventures. “I left the show almost a year ago, after hosting it for almost a decade,” she said. “They’ll still show my reruns for eternity, I imagine […] I am now headlining at stand-up comedy clubs, I’m guest hosting on the Game Show Network, writing my 2nd book, developing several television series to star in, doing professional keynote speaking, guest sermons, political activism, and charity work. Life is good!” Colette Whitaker narrated the show from 2008-2009, and Andromeda Dunker presently does the voice-over.
1. Price Reveal
A great feature of House Hunters is the housing price comparisons. Originally, the show didn’t list housing prices during its episodes. In 2005, its producers decided to add in the feature to make it more interesting for viewers. As a result, the show’s ratings soared.