I'll admit it: House Hunters is my TV guilty pleasure. I could watch an all-day marathon of House Hunters and still be loudly shouting at the couple that they obviously should've picked house number three even though it's the 20th episode I've seen that day. And I'd be more than willing to settle in for another HH marathon the very next day. There's something just so irresistible about people buying houses — I can't explain it!
In case anyone hasn't seen the show (not even sure if that's possible), I'll break it down: We start each episode by being introduced to a couple who is looking to buy or rent a new home. They explain to us how their current house is too small for their growing family, too far from work, or too close to their in-laws. And then we get into the good stuff; it's time for the house hunt! The couple meet up with their realtor at house #1. We're told the price and then get to go on a tour of the home with the couple. They'll admire the hardwood floor and granite countertops but scoff at the idea of having to change paint colors. We do the same thing for houses #2 and #3.
And then, it's decision time. The couple talks through each house, highlighting pros and cons, and then makes their choice. They tell their realtor, and the deal is done. We catch up with them a few months later to see how much they paid for the house, what changes they've made inside the house, and how much better their life is now that they are living in their dream home. And then it's onto the next episode!
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As a pretty big fan of the show, this secret really shocked me. I know that certain parts of the show are fake but I never imagined that they would go so far as to switch the participants out for younger and hotter versions of themselves. Because, let's be honest, we've seen a good mix of people on that show (young, old, put together, not so put together, tall, short, etc). But apparently, this particular old couple were just not making the cut.
Annie, a seller who had put her Mexican villa up to be one of the reject houses, was shocked to discover the swap. She was informed that the couple actually looking for a vacation home in Mexico were a sweet 50-something retired couple. But in order to appeal to a wider audience, producers swapped the retirees out for a young, hot couple. So not only were the houses fake, but so was the couple! Is anything real anymore? Can we even still call this reality TV?
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So, since the whole thing is apparently fake, that makes the participants actors then, right? I mean, they're not actors that are hired to pretend to be homeowners, but they are homeowners playing a part. And since they are acting on TV, you would hope that they get compensated like actors would on a TV show. But nope!
Participants on House Hunters are only given $500 as a thank you for their hard work on the episode. Episodes generally take three to five days of filming, so couples often have to take time off work to make filming possible. They also shoot long days. So let's say a couple shoots eight hours a day for five days and makes $500. That's only $6.25 per hour, per person. They'd make more money if they worked at McDonald's for the same amount of time. Or, y'know, at their actual jobs. What's worse, is that the realtors who also have to shoot for long hours on multiple days, are not paid anything. They volunteer their services! Despite these big pay cuts, each episode costs a reported $45,000-50,000 to make. Where is all that money going? Not to the stars of the show, that's for sure!
Okay, so we know that the house tour part of the show is fake. One of the three houses is already owned by the couple (they're just "pretending" to look at the house they've already bought). But what about the other two houses? Well, sometimes the realtor will line up viewings of listings that they know about. And other times? The participants will just tour their friends' houses! Can you even imagine? They have to call their friends and ask them to not only leave their homes for an entire day, but to also clean their house so it's TV ready. And then to make things even more awkward, the participants have to walk through their friends' homes and critique it! That's so uncomfortable! Your friends, who did you this great favor of lending you their home, then have to listen to you bash their house on a TV shown seen by millions around the world! They'll finally learn how you really feel about the paint color they chose for their master bedroom or how they decided to decorate their back lawn. I'm guessing this show hurt a lot of friendships.
So, if you're any kind of fan of House Hunters, you probably already know this shocking fact. But in case you hadn't heard, yes, the show is 100% fake. You are not actually watching couples choose their home. You're watching couples who have already bought a home, while touring their home and two random houses. In fact, people can't even apply to be on House Hunters until they own their new home. So if you were thinking it might be fun to go on the show and get help finding your next place, you thought wrong.
In 2012, a couple who had been on the show revealed that the house tours were just a facade. People everywhere were scandalized! Instead of denying the rumors, HGTV totally owned up to it. They admitted that they select participants who have already bought a house and go through the house tours just so the viewers at home can play along. Participants also have to have access to their old house so they can film scenes as if they are still living there.
"House Hunters" should be called "Couples Realizing They Should See Other People."— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) January 8, 2014
I've always found it a little odd when they interview couples at the beginning of this episode and it seems like they are on totally different pages. The husband will say he wants a single level rancher in the suburbs with warm carpets and a man-cave. While the wife wants a townhouse in the downtown core with hardwood floors and a craft room. Are these two people planning to live at the same house? Of course, I assume they play up these differences to add to the drama. And because marriage is all about compromise, it makes sense that each person in the couple will have to give in a little. He gets his rancher and she gets her hardwood floors. But it turns out, the producers have no problem fudging the story a little more to fit their needs.
One couple revealed that the producers told them their reason for moving houses—to turn their current house into a rental and buy something new—was 'boring' and 'overdone.' Ouch! The producers didn't like that version (the truth!) and convinced the couple to go with a scripted story instead. They had to say they were buying a new house because their current house was too small. Except, that wasn't true at all! The wife still cringes when she rewatches her episode and hears herself complaining about a lack of space in their old house, even though it was huge!
Ugh. This one tires me just to think about. Can you imagine having to say the exact same thing over and over again? And it's not even like you can count on that cushy movie star pay check since you're only going home with $500 ($250 each!) by the end of the week. So you just have to suck it up and exclaim, "Oh wow! I love this open floor plan and vaulted ceiling!" four more times. Directors will often have their participants do the exact same scene five or six times over again. That means walking through the same door five or six times, saying the exact same thing five or six times, and waiting for all of the cameras, lights, and crew members to get back into position five or six times. For couples who aren't trained actors (aka almost everyone on this show) this experience can be really tiring. By the sixth take, they don't even feel like they're speaking English anymore. Ever wonder why someone sounds like they're faking it on the show? You're probably watching take number six..
My therapist recommended more "me time" so it's 7:45 PM on a Monday night and I'm in bed watching House Hunters.— Jeff Heimbrock (@jheimbrock) February 23, 2016
Allow me to blow your mind with some stats about the empire that is House Hunters. House Hunters began airing episodes way back in 1999! How crazy is that? This show has been on the air for 18 years. House Hunters is old enough to vote! But back in the day in 1999, there were only 26 episodes in House Hunters' first year. By 2015, that number grew to 447 brand new episodes in that year alone. That's "an average of 1.22 episodes each day." You literally could watch a new episode of House Hunters every single day and still have some leftover!
Across America, there are 15 teams filming episodes at all times. That's the only way they can keep up with their crazy production schedule. And that doesn't include the 25 teams that are filming internationally at all times. This is all to keep their 25 million monthly viewers satisfied.
House Hunters has created about 20 different spin-off shows including Tiny House Hunters, House Hunters International, Island Hunters, Houseboat Hunters, and House Hunters - Where Are They Now? So much House Hunters, so little time!
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Now that you understand just how crazy popular House Hunters is, you can probably guess that they get quite a few applications to be on the show. (Maybe those people haven't heard about the multiple takes and lousy $500 stipend.) Despite those drawbacks, House Hunters receives 100-200 applications per week!
A House Hunters director, Susan Hull, explains that the best way to get on the show is to be a quirky couple who wants something unique in a home. It also helps if you have some drama or conflict in your story. So basically, if you're going to be TV gold, they want you. It's time to start dying your hair, fighting about fireplace mantles, and dreaming of living in a castle if you want to get on the show.
From the online application, hopefuls then hear from a casting director over email, fill out some more forms, do a phone interview, complete more paperwork and then submit an audition video. After all that, they'll let you know if you made the final cut!
Once again, I'm exhausted. I can't believe they have to film for six hours at each of the three houses. That's an insane amount of time to fill a very short segment on a 23 minute show. When I go to an open house, I get uncomfortable if we stay longer than five minutes. Even at a friend's house, I'm ready to leave after a couple of hours. I can't even imagine spending six hours walking in and out of the same rooms and trying to come up with something clever to say about the space. Honestly, I'd have to curl up for a nap. You'll find me in the master bedroom taking a snooze!
What's worse, it's not just the six hour long house tours that participants have to film. They also have to film their interviews in their old house, interviews after their move, and a bunch of extra footage of them hanging out with their family in their city, going to work, walking around the park, eating dinner, etc. One couple revealed that they filmed for more than 30 hours all for one short 23 minute TV show.
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Okay, so it's not all awful for participants on House Hunters. Yes, you have to take time off work and film for over 30 hours. Yes, you have to do multiple takes and maybe ruin your friendships by borrowing friends' houses. And yes, you have to do all that for $500. But, you don't have to buy your own lunch!
Couples reveal that the directors would treat them to lunch each day that they were filming. One couple said that in addition to the five lunches for them, production also took their entire family out to dinner one day and had lots of snacks available on set. Hey, a free meal is a free meal! I wouldn't say no if someone wanted to treat me to lunch for a few days. Do I get to pick where we eat? How about sushi, followed by steak with a few glasses of wine?
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With 40 film crews working at all times in the US and all across the world, and 400+ episodes to pump out every year, it's strange to think that some House Hunters episodes don't make the cut. Especially when we know that it costs $50,000 to make an episode and takes an awfully long time to cast a couple. Why would you want to throw away all that money and all that hard work?
Well, luckily, not very many episodes actually get cut. One director shared that she only knows of about 10 episodes that never made it on the air. Considering that there are tens of thousands of episodes of House Hunters around, 10 is a fairly small number of episodes to cut.
So why would an episode be pulled from production? The same director revealed that they only pull episodes in extreme cases. Some examples include when there is a death, a divorce or a natural disaster. After Hurricane Katrina, a couple episodes shot in New Orleans were understandably taken out of the production calendar.
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So, despite the long hours and crappy pay, there's a reason people keep lining up to be on this show. And that's because they get the star treatment! For us normals, it's not everyday that we can say we're starring on a popular TV show. It's kind of cool to be flipping through the channels and see your face and your house on the screen. But the cool factor doesn't end there.
A couple who were participants on House Hunters: International were looking for a home in Sweden and explained how much they loved being in front of the camera. When they arrived on set, they were given new wardrobe options as they had arrived in all black. They then got all pretty for the camera and lounged on a couch while the lighting and sound checks occurred. They enjoyed being interviewed in their favorite brewery and then followed around on the streets by a full camera crew. But best of all, they had access to runners who would go out and get them coffee or other treats throughout the day. It was like having a personal assistant!
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I don't really understand why anyone would want to find spoilers for House Hunters. It's only a 23 minute show and all of the fun is in guessing which house the couple will buy or deciding which one you would get if you were them. Why would you want to ruin that?
But if you're really anxious to know, you might be able to get the scoop by checking out local news outlets. ABC 13 (KTRK) in Houston, Texas recently spoiled an upcoming Houston-based episode of House Hunters. The news outlet broadcasted a tour of the chosen house before the episode aired on HGTV.
Another way to get a spoiler is to pay close attention to the hairstyles of the participants. Production often shoots the winning home (the one they had already bought) and their old home scenes at the same time. So if you notice the wife has bangs in the old home and again during house tour #2, you can probably guess which house they ended up picking.
House Hunters realtors are like "yes, this home is $50k over budget, BUT the walls are that color you love, so it's worth it!"— elizabeth lafleur (@eslafleur) April 13, 2016
Since all of the realtors on the show volunteer their time and don't get paid at all for the shoot, I always assumed it would be hard to find a realtor willing to go on the show. Why would you want to waste five days of your life showing off fake properties to people who have already bought a house? Well, turns out it's actually much more lucrative than I thought.
Realtors love being on HH because it's free publicity. This show is insanely popular and watched by people all over the world. For a realtor to get that kind of audience, it's priceless! In fact, many areas saw a boost in local real estate sales after an episode of House Hunters aired. This is especially true if it's an area people may have never heard of before, like an island or small town. Realtors will even encourage some of their other clients to put their homes up as the "reject" houses so their homes can be seen by millions of people around the world. If you felt the couple should've gone with house number one, but they picked house number two, wouldn't it be great to call the realtor and find out number one is actually for sale? It could be yours!
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We all know an episode of House Hunters is starting up before we even look at the screen. That's because we hear the familiar narrator voice telling us something like, "Nate and Kathleen have been living in the Chicago suburbs for years. Now that their children are off to college, they're looking for a downtown loft to call their own." (You totally heard it in the HH narrator voice, didn't you?)
Well, that voice belongs to none other than Andromeda Dunker. Andromeda has been doing the HH voice-overs since 2009. So any recent episode will feature her voice. And she must keep busy, seeing as she does the voice over work for the spin-off series as well. But before Andromeda, and even before Colette Whitaker, who narrated from 2008-2009, there was another.
From 1999 to 2007, House Hunters had an actual real life host. Suzanne Whang appeared on camera, often walking down a street of beautiful houses, to introduce us to our couple and talk through their housing options. If you've seen an old school episode of HH, you might recognize Suzanne. But if you're mainly watching the new stuff, this will totally blow your mind. After hosting the show for almost a decade, Suzanne left to pursue stand-up comedy, host a game show, write two books, develop TV shows, give keynote speeches, and get involved in political activism and charity work. My, what a busy lady!