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My Friend Was On The Reality TV Show House Hunters – And She Says It’s All Fake

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large brick house with open house sign

Reality TV isn’t always so real!

Have you ever watched the reality TV show House Hunters and wondered how they make the house hunting process look so simple – with no contract problems, bad inspections, or seller issues? Well, I’m here to tell ya that what you see on the screen is not how it really all goes down.

Here’s how my friend’s house hunting story happened…

A friend of mine, Melissa, was once on House Hunters International and we were all so excited about how cool it was going to be to see her family on television. That was until she started telling us about it… you’d be surprised to find out that the reality of it wasn’t so real after all.

You see, my friend Melissa was moving overseas from the U.S. which requires a LOT of planning, organizing, and coordination. She and her husband found a great home, purchased it, and moved in. There were no TV cameras; they were just regular people moving into their dream home.

Fast forward about a year and a half later and they were cast to be on House Hunters International. Hold up… what? Yep, over a year AFTER they had already moved overseas and settled into their new home, they were filmed doing the entire process… well a recreation of the process.

use a different colored tape to assign moving boxes to each room

The show filmed my friend packing up her belongings in the United States and talking with another friend about her move, how nervous she was about picking the right neighborhood, and finding the right home, when all along she had already done all of that. House Hunters International had her pretend to do it all over again – and it wasn’t even her house, she was packing up a friend’s house.

When it came time to “search for a new home,” she and her husband had to box up most of their belongings in their overseas home, and cover what was left with sheets so that it wouldn’t appear to be their items or that the house appeared to be lived in.

They had to tour two other homes that were actually not even for sale, in addition to their own home, to try and decide which one they wanted. I tell ya, the suspense was real – we had NO clue which house they were going to pick. 🙄

Melissa mentioned that the show had her create conflict with her husband and disagree on things they would normally agree on so that it would make for better television. This makes sense as I often wonder why the buyers on the show complain about simple things that can be changed in a home like wall paint colors. 🤷🏼‍♀️

I asked Melissa what she got out of it, and she said that she was given a flight back to the U.S. to film the portion of her show where she was “packing up her house.”

The flight was worth it to her as they can be pretty expensive coming from her new country back to the States, and it gave her the opportunity to visit family and friends. She mentioned that she was given the option of a free flight or a small amount of money and she opted for the flight (she said some friends who appeared on her episode received a small fee for their time).

Photo Credit: Jeff Newcamp

Do you think this is an isolated incident? NOPE – My friend Melissa is not alone!

Travel Blogger Elizabeth Newcamp and her husband have appeared on both House Hunters and House Hunters International TV shows and also had a similar experience. Much like Melissa, the Newcamp family had already purchased a home and actually toured Airbnb properties for the other two homes just for the sake of television.

While it was so much fun to see my friend and her beautiful family on television, it sure made me second guess all of these “reality” TV home shows. Who knew reality TV wasn’t.. so real? 😱

(*my friend’s name was changed for this post)


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Comments 44

  1. Kitty

    Yeah I’ve heard about this but didn’t know it would be so far after moving in and they had to box up all their belongings! I’ll still watch the show though haha

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      I know, right! It sure will be interesting to watch now, knowing about this!

  2. Go figure

    Dig a little further and you’ll find that this isn’t the only show hgtv runs that actually takes place differently than it’s portrayed

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh wow. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kat

      Yeah I believe love it or list it and property brothers too. Both I still love both shows 😁

    • Nikki

      I was surprised to see this as an article for this reason. There are next to no actual reality shows that are “real” they are all staged and/or recreated or skewed in some way. The stories are all over the Internet if you just google the show name and “fake”.

  3. Melissa

    My brother and sister in law were also on house hunters when they moved to England a few years ago. They had lived in England a few years and were contacted by HGTV to show them moving over. She had even started to have a slight English accent and you could hear it on the show. They whole thing was staged and they weren’t even looking for a house 😉

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      SO odd. Thanks for sharing with us, Melissa!

  4. Nora-Lee

    Doesn’t surprise me but why take it that far a year after they already moved?

    It’s like the house renovation shows where some of them they don’t even keep the furniture, if they want it they have to purchase it from them, that is crazy! The shows are entertaining for sure, but they should be more transparent.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yes! I know! I was surprised to hear about the furniture for renovation shows too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  5. Chrissybozz

    I was interviewed to be on a talk show portion of a tv news show after answering some questions online about my relationship with my mil. When they called to interview me, the strongly hinted around that they were looking for me to trash my mil-create a lot of conflict. I said I wasn’t interested in being on the show. FF and my husband and I watch the portion of the show on this topic-some lady was slamming her mil on national tv (the mil was PRESENT with her!) and the look on her mil’s face was heartbreaking. She was totally caught unaware. A lot of this goes on with ‘real’ television. Sad.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh no! That’s awful! It sure makes you question on what is really authentic or made up!

  6. Tracy

    I am so disappointed to hear this. My husband and I watch this every night as we go to bed and now knowing full well that it is fake is so sad…. I know reality shows are based on script and not all 100% but its sad when you actually find out it is fake…. 🙁

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yup! I agree, Tracy. It sure is disappointing!

  7. Amy

    She also should be very careful in what he reveals. In most cases witj these types of shows there are contracts that are signed as participants that include nondisclosure agreements.

    • Maggie

      typo: *claiming* it is fake too

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing, Maggie! I have watched that one too!

  8. Elle

    Honestly, anything pegged as a “reality” show is mostly staged, scripted, suggested, etc. If you enjoy the show or others like this, don’t let it ruin the fun for you. I’m not into this kind of TV, but my family watches a lot of reality competitions and one time I mentioned that a certain show that was portrayed as a reality/documentary type of show was recently exposed as being completely scripted with paid actors. I could tell this was disappointing for my family to hear and it eventually ruined the magic of the show for them.

    At the end of the day, producers care about ratings and will do what they can to manufacture drama or film interesting people/places/things in order to grab more viewers. Take what you watch with a grain of salt, and enjoy it for the entertainment that it is.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re right, Elle. I bet there are more reality shows that are not as real as we think.

  9. Suz in OH

    I enjoyed this story and the specifics shared, but no surprise that these shows (not just HH or HHI) are largely fake. Our local newspaper (diferent area than where we now live) ran a story on a home reno show being shot in the area. They included interviews with folks happy they participated. as well as info on people suing the producers when they were no so happy with the end result. Things like the general contractor shown on the show is not licensed in the state is one thing I remember. The satisfied participants said that the producers would reveal a problem that had occurred in the reno process and then they would turn on the cameras and have the TV host report that problem. I think this was so the home owners would actually say something when the cameras were on instead of being surprised. An acquaintance was watching a home buying show and was surprised to see her beach property as one of the properties turned down. Recently saw a home buying show in the general area where I now live and know for a fact that the lake access described as an amenity for one of the properties is for a private lake and would not be available for the property they were showing. I still watch these shows despite the lack of reality.

  10. shop4mybabies

    I have read about lawsuits where the fixer up or flip type shows do not complete jobs or do them poorly

  11. Denise

    My cousin did this show in Singapore — same thing — none of it was real.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Darn! Thanks, Denise! Good to know!

  12. Meg

    I work in the mortgage business, and the thing that gets me is when the buyers have a “budget” and they buy a house under budget and the host says ” now we have $50000 for renovations.” Ummm thats not how mortgage lending works! At all.

    • Jessica

      That’s what I always think too! Im like ok… shi they got a mortgage for 250k… where are they getting this additional $100k to make up thr difference in their “budget”?

  13. llc

    American Pickers is totally fake too. The guys dont dig for their finds and negotiate the prices. All the items are already found before filming as well as the price negotiation. The 2 guys arrive separately and have their own travel trailers to get camera ready. All those shots of them driving in the van are pre-taped. I even googled the road signs for a texas show as I am in texas. The signs started off in north texas, then jumped to San Antonio, then to the Austin area. But the show was actually in a town south of San Antionio.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh no! I have loved that show! I always wondered if they were really driving all that way together. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Heather T

    My husband and l were on My First Place in 2008 and it was not faked. We are still living in the house.

    • Liza (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh cool, Heather! Sounds like a fun experience! Happy to hear you loved your place so much you’re still there!

  15. Demi

    My husband and I used to do a lot of storage auctions. When one of our favorite auctioneers told us he was filming an episode of Storage Wars Miami we decided to check it out. It was still a real auction, but every unit was “auctioned” twice. Once for real and the second time for filming additional angles and drama. We got to throw some imaginary bids and I got to give my husband the I don’t think so face. The 2 female leads were very chummy before filming, but incredibly competitive while the cameras were rolling. One unit was even “sold” to the wrong bidder in the second filming, and things got a bit heated. All and all an interesting experience, but as this was our business, not profitable. The major players are paid for their appearance and therefore bid up to ensure they make the final cut.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      SO interesting! I have loved that show too! I always wondered how real it was! Thanks for letting us know about your experience!

  16. Emilie A

    My friend was on an early Season of Master Chef. You have to cook three identical plates of food. One for production to take photos of, one to present to the judges, and most importantly one for the show writers to try first. The writers taste your food and then write scripted comments for the celebrity chefs to recite to the home cooks. Nothing Gordon Ramsey said was his own. It was all written for him. I never watched again after that.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh my! That is super surprising! Thanks for sharing that insider info!

  17. Bethany

    I, too, have friends who were on House Hunters International and told me about it being fake. (this was about 3 years ago!) They had already bought the home they ended up with a year earlier and went through the “process” that the show portrays even though it was not true. I was SO disappointed and have never watched that show since.

  18. Amber

    I have HATED reality shows since the beginning! My friend worked at a restaurant in New Orleans and said Real World was filming while he was working and some of the “cast” got in a verbal fight. They stopped the cameras and told them to re-enact it but crazier this time. He said they started screaming and throwing stuff over a little was started over tiff. Hated it before but confermed it after that!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Awww, bummer! Thanks for letting us know, Amber!

  19. LolaLolita

    I was so sad to hear a few years ago that Pawn Stars was fake too. They gave the relative of a friend an item to pretend it was theirs. I was hoping at least the items really belonged to the person bringing it in, but not even that blah.

  20. Diane

    Several years ago my daughter was one of the local people to work on a house for the show “Extreme Makeovers”. That was the real deal, and the house went to a very deserving family. Sadly, that show doesn’t exist anymore.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      At least it’s the real deal! It’s so nice to hear that, Diane!

  21. Kathy

    Not at all surprised. Years ago we were on Clean House. They brought stuff in from the garage and literally threw things around to look messier. They brought in dirt from the back yard to make the floors look dirty and literally removed everything from the rooms they “remodeled” and piled it in the back under tarps. It took us months and quite a bit of money to make the rooms, especially the kitchen, livable again. Not fond memories.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Darn! That does sound frustrating for sure. Thanks so much for letting us know about your experience!

  22. Marie

    Yeah I knew about this years ago. My ex is from the US Virgin Islands and one of the shows they did there was comical because it featured what is a literal hotel as one of the property options to buy and a couple that was well known and established there that have never moved. Oh well. Sometimes it’s better entertainment not to know?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yes, true. My husband says he will still watch just to see the different home and interior design styles.

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