'House Hunters' scandal: Is the show a fake?

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Image Credit: HGTV

Warning: That HGTV show about real estate that your mom watches religiously — it may be a little bit (mostly) fake.

The blogosphere exploded with new evidence today that House Hunters, HGTV’s not-at-all-guilty pleasure about people buying new homes, isn’t as grounded in reality as it may appear. The A.V. Club, who first reported the news, points out that this is not an entirely new claim, but the story picked up speed today, thanks to the blog Hooked on Houses.

A woman named Bobi Jensen shared her experience about being featured on House Hunters with the blog. She explained that the producers changed her and her husband’s story about why they were moving, and also shed some light on how those three houses that potential buyers choose from are selected. Jensen explained that prior to being selected, they had already chosen their new house. The other two “options” were just their friends’ houses that weren’t even for sale.

EW spoke with Bobi Jensen via e-mail today and she reiterated the above claims about her episode, which taped in early 2006. She stated that the producers told her how they wanted the storyline to go. She also explained that although it was true she viewed her friends’ not-for-sale houses as the other home options, that wasn’t the norm. Jensen told EW, “It wasn’t ever intended to be this way… The producers were relying on us to set up the homes to tour. We called all over town to realtors that had houses listed and we couldn’t get anyone to agree to it…. I think they were afraid we’d show their house in a bad light.”

Overall, Jensen stressed that she loves HGTV and thinks these practices are the most efficient way to handle a show such as House Hunters — something the team behind House Hunters seem to agree with.

The publicist for House Hunters told EW in a statement:

We’ve learned that the pursuit of the perfect home involves big decisions that usually take place over a prolonged period of time  — more time than we can capture in 30 minutes of television. However, with a series like House Hunters, HGTV viewers enjoy the vicarious and entertaining experience of choosing a home — from establishing a budget, to touring properties and weighing the pros and cons of each one. We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. 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. 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. Showcasing three homes makes it easier for our audience to “play along” and guess which one the family will select. It’s part of the joy of the House Hunters viewing experience. Through the lens of television, we can offer a uniquely satisfying and fun viewing experience that fulfills a universal need to occasionally step into someone else’s shoes.

Read more:
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