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House Hunters is staged, says one former participant

Scott Levin's picture

The show offers viewers a glimpse into the entire home buying experience. But just how much of House Hunters is real and how much is set up by producers?

Bobi Jensen, a San Antonio resident who appeared on the show in 2006, recently wrote a scathing blog for Hooked on Houses. In her entry, Jensen claimed that several aspects of the show were staged.

For those unfamiliar with the HGTV program, the show follows one couple or family in the market for a new home. Viewers watch as the participants explore three homes for sale, dissecting the space, amenities and advantages provided by each. At the end of the episode, the family picks one home to move into, and viewers get a quick look at how things are currently going for them in their new digs.

Jensen's blog brings to light some significant concerns for those who believed the show was a completely accurate depiction of the house buying process.

"They didn't even 'accept' us being a subject for the show until we closed on the house we were buying," Jensen wrote. "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!" Jensen added.

A programming executive for HGTV responded to the claims, but those hoping for an out-and-out denial of the blog will be disappointed.

"To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process," Brian Balthazar said. "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."

The development has turned off some viewers to the point where they vow to never watch the network again.

"I’ll never watch that show again. If I wanted to watch a “fiction” I’d be watching a movie! Shame on the producers," wrote one blog commenter.

It remains to be seen just how damaging Jensen's claim is for the highly-popular program. Diehard fans of the show will likely still keep watching, hoping Jensen's experience is not the norm. Another participant who appeared on the show in 2007 backed up the claim that the show is not completely real but had a different experience in regard to the houses viewed.

"You have to already own the house that gets picked at the end of the show," participant Ted Prosser told On-StJohn.com. "But the other houses in the show are actually the other houses we considered buying."

"House Hunters" premiered on HGTV in 1999 and has aired 332 episodes since that time. Spinoffs including "House Hunters International" and "House Hunters on Vacation" have broadened the franchise. According to the "House Hunters" website, new episodes are currently airing every weeknight.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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