From ‘Flip or Flop’ to ‘Property Brothers’: Insider Secrets About Your Favorite HGTV Shows Revealed

Home and Garden Television, better known as HGTV, is filled with programs that are all about searching for a new home or updating an existing one, and the shows are pretty addictive. After just one episode of Flip or Flop, House Hunters, or Property Brothers, you can get hooked into watching several episodes. But many times, what you think is going on in a particular show is totally different from what actually happened.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes revelations about your favorite shows. Some are straight from the stars themselves while others are secrets the network doesn’t want you to know about.

1. House Hunters participants get paid to be on the show

A couple on House Hunters

They get paid a small fee to have their house hunting shown on TV. | HGTV

Ever wonder if people who go on House Hunters get paid? Well, the answer is yes. Anyone who agrees to appear on an episode gets a flat fee of $500 and that’s $500 per family, not per person.

As for the real estate agents, they do not get paid. However, the reason they sign on is for the publicity of getting their face out there for everyone to see who is interested in buying or selling a home in their area.

Next: The job isn’t done by the end of the show. 

2. Final reveals on Love It or List It and Fixer Upper aren’t complete

Love It or List It

This house isn’t quite as finished as it appears. | HGTV

At the end of every episode of shows like Fixer Upper and Love It or List It, viewers get to see the results of home improvement projects. But while we are wowed by many of them, it’s all smoke and mirrors as most families can’t move in until several weeks after filming concludes.

The renovation process isn’t exactly fast moving and anything can come up that slows it down even more. When that happens, a team stages the furnishings in the house to make it look as though everything has been completed. But the truth is some of the furniture is in the midst of being repaired, so it’s positioned in a way to hide any flaws. In addition, things like the fabrics on throw pillows aren’t fully sewn on yet so they are also set up a certain way to avoid noticing that.

And, what about the rooms we don’t get to see at the end of the show? What kind of shape are they in? Well, according to Joanna Gaines, those rooms are not renovated and usually filled with plastic storage bins, trash bags, carpeting samples, tarps, and tools.

Next: Couples didn’t get to work with these stars off camera. 

3. Homeowners don’t get to work with Chip and Joanna Gaines

Homeowners with Chip and Joanna on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

There isn’t much interaction between contestants and the Gaineses. | HGTV.com

When Fixer Upper was still on the air, everyone in and around Waco, Texas, wanted to be on the show for a chance to work with Chip and Joanna Gaines, but those chosen never actually got that chance.

Lindy Ermoian, whose home was featured on Season 3 of the show, said that she and her husband never communicated with the Gaineses off camera and were instead assigned a design team to walk them through the process.

Next: This is misleading. 

4. Beachfront Bargain Hunt only chooses people who already purchased beach houses

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

This house was purchased before cameras began rolling. | HGTV

The whole point of Beachfront Bargain Hunt is to follow the journey of people who want it all at a low price and see if that’s a reality —  but this show lacks reality. It turns out that participants chosen for this program have already purchased their properties as the production company finds it easier to work with people who already bought what they wanted.

So, viewers are really watching what the process of trying to find the perfect home on a budget would have been like after the fact.

Next: Say it ain’t so!

5. House Hunters is scripted

House hunters house

There was never any chance of this house being purchased on air. | House Hunters via Facebook

One of the worst-kept secrets about HGTV shows is that House Hunters is fake. In 2012, Bobi Jensen wrote a blog post on Hooked on Houses to let everyone know that the series was scripted, and the network didn’t deny it.

To this day, fans of the show don’t want to believe it, but the houses people are looking at aren’t even on the market. And most of the time those “prospective buyers” have either already purchased their home or are so far along in the home-buying process to consider other options.

Moreover, the budgets and prices of the houses are usually inaccurate and made up for ratings. So yes, what goes on in this beloved show is a lie.

Next: These scenes aren’t real either.

6. House-hunting scenes on Fixer Upper are staged

As seen on Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines and the Barrett family talk about the functionality of the backyard.

Is this the house they had already purchased? | HGTV

Another portion of Fixer Upper that wasn’t real was the house-hunting shown at the beginning of every episode. Like a few other HGTV shows, there is a bit of acting going on with that.

The show participants always seem like they’re interested in the other properties they’re touring. But in reality, they already bought their home and are just waiting for the Gaineses to work their magic.

Next: This all depends on the show. 

7. Some homeowners don’t get to keep the furniture

Property Brothers in front of a fireplace

All of this belongs to the homeowner. | Property Brothers via Facebook

Whether or not homeowners get to keep the beautiful decorations and furniture featured in their home reveal all depends on which show they go on. Folks do not get to keep the pieces shown on Home Town. The same was also true for those who appeared on Fixer Upper over the years as the furniture was just there on loan to look nice for the reveal.

It’s a different story though for Property Brothers. Jonathan Scott explained that those who participate in his show get to keep what they see in their renovated home. He said:

Every one of our shows, where it’s a homeowner moving in, they all keep the furniture. I’ve heard that some other shows take it all away and I was like, ‘Uh … That’s a jerk move.’ You get someone to fall in love with a room and then you’re like, ‘See ya!’ So, no, everything that you see on TV stays.

Next: Actors are cast for this series. 

8. Real homebuyers on House Hunters are replaced by younger actors

HGTV House Hunters

Are these the real homebuyers? | HGTV

Another lie House Hunters has led us to believe is that the potential homebuyers we see on screen are the ones buying the home, but that’s not true either. Many times, the people we see on TV are actually actors who were cast to portray the homebuyers.

This has happened on both House Hunters and House Hunters International because no matter the person’s age, producers sometimes like to keep those featured on the series young-looking.  It’s an idea the production crew came up with to appeal to a younger audience and show that it’s not just retirees who pick up and move to destinations outside the U.S.

So, next time you see a young couple on the show you’ll wonder if they are the real buyers or just actors.

Next: This part of another popular show is actually real. 

9. Flip or Flop auctions are real

Flip or Flop Tarek and Christina El Moussa

They pride themselves on keeping it real. | HGTV

Something that is not fake or staged are the auctions on Flip or Flop. “Real estate auctions where we buy are real, ” Tarek El Moussa said during a Q&A with Talk Irvine. “I must have cashier’s checks to buy cash (I lost a 20k check once, that was a nightmare)!”

The only part of those auctions viewers don’t see is when the El Moussas get outbid as that does happen sometimes.

Next: You needed a certain amount of work to be considered for this show.

10. Fixer Upper participants had to spend at least $30,000 on renovations

Fixer Upper Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines show the Gaspars a photographic banner of their home in its original state, before revealing the newly renovated exterior.

They had to shell out a lot of money for this reveal. | HGTV

Something people may not have known about Fixer Upper is that there was a minimum amount participants had to spend on renovations to be considered for the show.

The requirement to be on the program was that “at least $30,000 in renovations [needed] to be done.” Many applicants were even turned away for “not having enough wrong” with their home.

Next: Things aren’t as they appear. 

11. Chip Gaines doesn’t do as much physical labor as you think

Chip Gaines

He does a lot, just not as much of the construction as the show leads you to believe. | HGTV

When you watched Fixer Upper, chances are you saw Chip Gaines kicking down walls and figured he was heavily involved in the demo process. But that’s not the case.

Ermoian explained that Gaines wasn’t as hands on when the cameras stopped rolling. It’s not like the Fixer Upper star skipped out on the renovations because he didn’t know what he was doing — it’s just that he’s a very busy man.

Next: Some participants don’t live anywhere near these places. 

12. Not everyone lives in areas shown on camera

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Not everyone lives in an idyllic suburban neighborhood like this one. | Swarmcatcher/iStock/Getty Images

Even some of the footage shown in the opening sequence of shows, like House Hunters and House Hunters International, aren’t exactly true to the location of a person’s home or where they are searching for a home.

Cenate Pruitt, who appeared on the show Curb Appeal in 2013, spoke about why the production crew shot in areas far away from where he actually lived.

A lot of the establishing shots of the Atlanta area that they used were nowhere near the house … All the storefronts where people are walking their dogs — that’s several miles west of us. They’re just creating this little narrative of this nice little street. And it is a nice little street, there’s no crime or anything …  I gather a lot of reality TV is like this: They play fast and loose with what a neighborhood is really like and who really lives there to construct that story.

Next: Homeowners don’t always have a say about renovations. 

13. Homeowners on Fixer Upper aren’t always consulted on renovation decisions

Whitney and Martin Gaspar prepare to see their completed fixer upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines.

This reveal was going to be quite a surprise. | HGTV

While the homeowners who were selected to be on Fixer Upper did have a lot of say about the design and rebuild process, they are not consulted on all of the decisions.

The casting applications for the show stated that a team of designers may “make decisions on your behalf while performing work on your home.” And “you will have to accept that some final renovation choices may differ from your original decisions or desires.”

Next: Some scenes are created and recreated. 

14. Some scenes are created and recreated to make good TV

Jillian Harris

They have sponsors to appeal to after all. | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams & Lowe’s

Not every scene of every show on the network is scripted, but there are times when something so natural and brilliant happens that the crew may ask a show participant to do it over again so they can get a perfect shot.

And then there are instances where those chosen to appear on one of the programs doesn’t have the most intriguing storyline. In that case, producers will embellish to keeps things interesting for viewers.

Next: They’re not smiling on the inside. 

15. Not everyone is happy with final results

Property brothers reveal

Were they really pleased or were they faking it? | Property Brothers via Facebook

Every HGTV show ends with people delighted about a property they purchased or a home they had renovated, but not everyone is always thrilled with the results. In 2016, a couple featured on Love It or List It were so unhappy with the job done on their home that they filed a lawsuit against Big Coat Productions which produces the HGTV show.

Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan claimed that they were billed an extra $10,000 on top of their $140,000 budget and that the contractors, who were paid approximately $85,000 of that, did not do a good job. The couple alleged that the “disastrous” job included “damaged and stained floorboards, open holes, low-grade carpeting over chipped concrete, and unpainted surfaces.”

Prior to settling the suit in 2017, a statement from Murphy and Sullivan’s attorney said, “For the homeowners here, this is a renovation project, and for Big Coat, it’s a TV show. What we allege is that Big Coat hired contractors who did substandard work.”

Follow Michelle Kapusta on Twitter @philamichelle.

Read moreBizarre HGTV Show Moments That Left Us Scratching Our Heads

Follow The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!