‘House Hunters’: Fans Think the Show Needs a Dose of Reality

For 20 years, the HGTV show House Hunters has provided fans hours of real estate entertainment, following people as they work through the process of picking a house. It has remained a steady part of the HGTV lineup, providing fans the pleasure of peeking into many different houses at many different price points. It’s even been the source of a little controversy now and then. But after all this time, fans are starting to be weary of all the ways the producers of the show manipulate the facts to make the action more dramatic. They’re ready for things to get a little more real. 

A young couple holding hands walking down a sidewalk with a realtor on 'House Hunters'
House Hunters | HGTV/Discovery

‘House Hunters’ has a formula that works

There’s a good reason House Hunters has stuck around for so long, while other HGTV programs have come and gone: it has stuck to a basic formula that viewers love. Hopeful home-buyers discuss what they’re looking for in a house, listing the features that are important to them, such as the number of bedrooms, the location, and the style the love. Then they tour three different houses with a realtor in search of one that meets all their requirements within their price range. 

After the homes have been explored, there is a cliffhanger moment, as the viewers are left to wonder which house the participants chose. The people following along at home often have strong feelings about which one should be picked. Then the winning house is revealed, and the show wraps up with a brief interview of the homebuyers, settled happily into their new house. 

It’s a simple format that has proved to be effective — even if it’s not entirely true. 

Things are not what they seem

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Part of the enduring appeal of House Hunters is that viewers feel like they’re tagging along on someone’s decision-making process, which may explain why they tend to get so invested in which home the participants end up choosing. But it turns out that, as with much reality television, the “reality” isn’t actually all that real. 

According to Screen Rant, the participants have already picked their house before filming even begins. In fact, sometimes they’ve already purchased the house, and their careful deliberation is all staged for the camera. 

It’s even rumored that sometimes the houses that aren’t chosen weren’t even for sale. They may have been picked by producers as good examples of what’s available in the area, or even belong to friends of the people on the show. Although this has worked for a couple of decades, some fans have had enough. 

Fans want the show to be more real

A recent conversation on Reddit discussed some of these behind-the-scenes manipulations, and what they think should change. “We already know they chose a house a year ago and are just seeing the other two for fake television,” the original poster said. “You can do better than fake television.”

Others agreed, pointing out that other aspects of the show were unrealistic. “I always hate how every episode they do a “check in” and every couple is so happy with their decision, like let’s get real some of you made poor choices and only realize it now.”

Some felt that they’d love to see people with budgets that are more relatable. “We need more shows that are more real and less reality,” one commenter said. “I want to see real budgets. Not $650,000 ‘and not a penny more David.’ Or these renovation budgets that exceed $10,000. Not realistic for most of us.”

Fans clearly have some ideas about how HGTV could improve House Hunters. But considering how long it’s been a success, it seems unlikely that they’re looking for ways to change something that doesn’t seem to be broken.