There’s nothing like sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and binging the day away with some HGTV. The real estate and renovation channel is home to some of the most captivating shows we’ve ever seen, from Property Brothers and Fixer Uppers to the ever-popular Flip or Flop. It’s so very easy to get lost in these programs as you watch one person after another have their real estate dreams come true. However, have you ever thought about what really happens on these series when the cameras aren’t rolling?

It turns out that some of HGTV’s biggest shows aren’t as genuine as they appear to be. Plenty of contestants have come forward over the years and admitted the ugly truths that tainted their filming experience. From fake open houses to renovation projects that made things worse, it seems that some of these programs do more harm than good. You might never look at HGTV the same after learning their tricks of the trade.

Fooling us

There’s an important rule you should never forget whenever you watch a show that’s referred to as reality TV – it’s not real. The content is rarely ever as genuine as you expect, with producers reshooting scenes and changing certain elements to get the best response out of viewers.

David Ridley
Reality TV isn’t real

You might think that renovation programs would be free from this interference, but that’s far from the truth. A lot of what you see on screen isn’t real, and that’s the case with many of HGTV’s biggest shows.

Slacking on the job

Property Brothers is a firm favorite with plenty of the channel’s loyal viewers. That’s how the show has managed to rack up more than 150 episodes and a variety of spin-offs since it first hit the air in 2011. Unfortunately, while people might love the program and its captivating hosts,  it’s hardly the most authentic show on TV.

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Slacking on the job

For instance, Drew and Jonathan Scott don’t actually do as much on the series as you might expect them to. While the former works as a realtor, most of the program’s clients already have homes when they’re introduced to the brothers. Moreover, while Jonathan is a contractor and does occasionally get his hands dirty, he only helps out when he absolutely has to. Otherwise, he just devotes all his time to being a presenter.

A big price to pay

Wouldn’t it be great to get the home of your dreams without having to break the bank? That’s the illusion that a lot of HGTV’s shows like to create, but it’s rare that it ever becomes a reality. When people are brought onto their programs, they’re already aware of how much money is needed to achieve their aspirations.

Jonathan Scott
A big price to pay

That’s certainly how it is on Property Brothers, with clients apparently expected to have a minimum of $65,000 to use on renovations. That doesn’t include the 25% contingency fee which is also required should anything go wrong. That means that every time someone on the show appears shocked over how much something is worth, they’re actually just tapping into their acting skills. It’s all about performing for the viewers.

Two is better than one

It would probably be a little overwhelming for a singleton to go on Property Brothers and have two people telling them what to do. It’s lucky, then, that the show always requires a client to have someone with them, even if they don’t plan on living together. That’s because it’s essential for people to have someone to talk to for inspiration or to let off steam when things go wrong.

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Two is better than one

It makes for better TV, and it evens the playing field with the two hosts. Although most of the show’s clients are couples, there have been instances when people have had to bring on a friend or family member to fill the open slot. At least it’s an excellent way for the other person to get their face on TV.

Take your pick

If you plan on renovating your home, you probably think about redoing the whole property, right? While that might seem sensible, you shouldn’t expect it if you go on Drew and Jonathan’s show. That’s because Property Brothers only rejuvenate a select number of their client’s rooms. When viewers are shown the big reveal at the end, they’re only ever given a glimpse of the house.

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Take your pick

The rooms which were untouched are swiftly ignored in favor of those which received the star treatment. Apparently, not only are people limited on how many rooms they can have renovated, but they also have to choose between doing up the bathroom or kitchen. It’s one or the other on this show, meaning homeowners have to make some pretty tough decisions.

Planning for disaster

Isn’t it amazing that every renovation project that Property Brothers does seems to encounter a problem at some point? It’s almost as if it’s planned. Well, while the brothers might not be sabotaging their client’s homes, it’s no coincidence that these homes always seem to have an issue with them.

David Ridley
Planning for disaster

The producers think carefully about which projects they tackle, and ones which cause drama are always preferred. At least the contingency fee in the budget means that these inevitable disasters never land the clients with disastrous unexpected costs.

Buying in advance

Of all the shows to feature on HGTV, Fixer Upper was undeniably one of the most popular. Millions of people enjoyed sitting down and watching Chip & Joanna Gaines change people’s lives, one house at a time.

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Buying in advance

Unfortunately, while the show was such a delight to watch – and still is if you love reruns – you had to meet certain conditions if you wanted to appear on it. As former client David Ridley revealed, you had to have already purchased a new home to be on the program.

Bringing in extra income

The problem that happens with a lot of these renovation projects is that they cost the clients too much money to maintain. It’s nice to have a refurbished house, but all those new features have to be paid for somehow.

Jonathan Scott
Bringing in extra income

That’s why so many of the people who appeared on Fixer Upper have since turned to things like Airbnb to generate some income. Rather than living in their renovated properties, people like Kristi Bass and Cameron Bell now rent them out for several hundred dollars a night.

Voicing their disapproval

While this tactic is a great way for former clients to keep money coming in, there are two people who aren’t particularly happy about this. Chip and Joanna have openly expressed their disapproval of anyone who turns to Airbnb after being on the show.

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Voicing their disapproval

When they first learned that people were doing this, they revealed that they were going to become stricter about who they invited onto the show. Apparently, they wanted to remodel client’s homes, not give them a property they could rent out for a profit.

That costs extra

Of course, who can blame people for wanting to make money off their renovated home given some of the tactics Fixer Upper used. As Jaime Ferguson once revealed, the show didn’t actually allow clients to keep the furniture that was used during the renovation.

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That costs extra

Once the cameras stopped rolling, they either had to pay for it or wave it all goodbye. Imagine having your dream home come to life before your eyes, only to have it snatched away after all the hard work was done.

The talk of the town

So many people get featured on HGTV shows that it’s easy to forget about them after their episode ends. However, these clients don’t just disappear when the cameras stop rolling. They continue living their lives like before, only now they have a renovated home to go back to.

David Ridley
The talk of the town

Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing. Many clients found that people were continually stopping outside their house and knocking on their doors because they’d seen it featured on Fixer Upper. For David Morrow and others like him, that became annoying real fast.

Public enemy number one

It’s not just excitable tourists who harass these clients either. Apparently, some of the residents in Waco, Texas, hate the people who featured on Fixer Upper. That’s because their home renovation projects drove up taxes, something that the locals didn’t all take too kindly too.

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Public enemy number one

Ken and Kelly Downs felt so harassed by residents over the tax situation that they debated moving away in 2017. Their home had been hit by a car, and they pondered whether it was really worth having it renovated again.

A surprise ending

For over a decade, Love It or List It has asked clients to decide whether they want to stay in their current home or move somewhere new. It’s become such a popular show that it now has spin-offs in places like Australia and the UK.

Jonathan Scott
A surprise ending

However, it’s just as deceptive as other HGTV programs, especially when it comes to the final decision. Apparently, the program requires the clients to film multiple endings – one where they stay, and one where they move. Producers then decide the ending that’s shown.

Renovation gone wrong

While this deceit certainly takes away from the fun of the show, it’s not the reason that the production company was sued by one of its former clients. Deena Murphy and Tim Sullivan were featured on an episode of the program in 2016, and they were far from impressed with their experience.

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Renovation gone wrong

It seems that when their home was renovated, several issues emerged that were caused by the contractor. These included damage to the floorboards and cheap carpeting over poorly-laid concrete, The pair weren’t going to let the problems lie.

Resolving the matter

Deena and Tim were so upset by the issues that they sued the production company for the “shoddy work” that was done. The pair believed that the $140,000 they’d put towards renovations was mismanaged and not used accordingly.

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Resolving the matter

Their matter has since been resolved, with both sides filing to dismiss the case. However, the outcome wasn’t revealed to the press, so it’s unsure if the pair received any compensation for what happened. Either way, we expect they won’t be watching Love It or List It on HGTV anymore.

A persistent problem

It seems that these two weren’t the only people to have their home made worse after a renovation project. Cenate and Wendy Pruitt starred on an episode of Curb Appeal: The Block, but they’re now full of regrets after what happened to their property.

David Ridley
A persistent problem

Following a $20,000 renovation, the Pruitts were the victim of numerous floodings. That’s because the retaining wall which was established in the basement kept causing water to build up. Even though people came out to fix it several times, the problem persisted.

Destroying the front lawn

While the flooding in the Pruitts’ basement was the biggest issue caused by Curb Appeal’s interference, that wasn’t the only problem that arose because of the show. The couple also wasn’t impressed by the work that was done on their front yard.

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Destroying the front lawn

Apparently, exotic plants and grass had been planted there, but they weren’t the right fit for the local climate. They expired pretty quickly, forcing the Pruitts to pay out over $1,000 to repair the lawn. That’s a lot of money given that the home makeover cost $20,000.

Blink and you miss it

Another thing that Cenate noted was the presence of the host, or rather the lack thereof. Apparently, the man wasn’t around that much during the filming of the show, only making the odd appearance before disappearing again.

Jonathan Scott
Blink and you miss it

According to Pruitt, he’d rock up in his convertible, do a bit for the cameras, then drive away again. This is seemingly nothing new when it comes to HGTV shows. Drew and Jonathan Scott are also relatively absent when filming Property Brothers, only making appearances with each of their clients once a week.

Taking someone else’s place

One program that does employ genuine realtors is Beachfront Bargain Hunt. The show that’s all about finding the perfect property on the coast relies on actual real estate agents, although that’s not to say it’s without its faults.

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Taking someone else’s place

One of the program’s clients was initially hired to be a realtor, but she’d been unable to find anyone that fit what the producers were looking for. Luckily, she’d just purchased a beachfront property in the right price range, so they decided to feature her in the episode instead.

Again and again

Johanna, a realtor from Outer Banks, talked about her experience on Beachfront Bargain Hunt in a blog post, and she had quite a lot to say. One thing she revealed was that scenes were often shot multiple times to give producers a lot to work with.

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Again and again

This perhaps isn’t hugely surprising because it’s done in most TV shows. However, it does take away from the authenticity of the program knowing that everything has probably been filmed half a dozen times. All those shocked reactions aren’t as real as they appeared.

It’s not nice

Perhaps the strangest thing to happen on the set of Beachfront Bargain Hunt was the exclusion of the word nice from any scene. According to Johanna, anytime someone said it, the cameras stopped rolling, and they had to do another take.

David Ridley
It’s not nice

It seems like an extreme measure to take over one word, especially when it’s not even a bad one. However, we suppose that producers were concerned that nice didn’t paint as exciting a picture as beautiful, charming, or some other synonym. They wanted to keep viewers hooked, after all.

Not picked at random

While most of HGTV’s shows are about improving people’s homes and finding them new places to live, Yard Crashers is all about redecorating people’s backyards. They seemingly choose their contestants at random by selecting an unsuspecting client in a home improvement store.

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Not picked at random

However, unsurprisingly, that’s not how the program actually works. Producers would never allow the host to pick someone without checking them out first, meaning those public encounters are all just for show. It spices up what would otherwise be a very dull selection process.

Shoddy yard work

While we could accept that the set-up of Yard Crashers isn’t as genuine as it appears, that’s not the show’s only issue. One person on Reddit revealed that their friend who featured on the program wasn’t too happy with their renovation.

Jonathan Scott
Shoddy yard work

It seems that the contractor didn’t do a brilliant job when laying the concrete, leading to issues with the person’s water line. The problem was so severe that they had to pay thousands of dollars just to get it fixed. Evidently, they’re no longer fans of Yard Crashers.

A web of lies

Having been on TV since 1999, House Hunters is one of HGTV’s longest-running shows. More than 1,700 episodes of the program have been filmed, so it’s inevitable that some of the clients have had bad experiences. Bobi Jensen from season three was one such person.

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A web of lies

Supposedly, everything about this woman’s time on the show was a lie, starting with her choice of home. She’d already bought the property beforehand, something which is apparently par for the course with these home improvement and real estate shows.

Putting words in their mouths

According to Jensen, her initial plan going into House Hunters was that she wanted to redo her home so that it could be rented out. However, producers didn’t approve of that, so they demanded the client change her intentions.

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Putting words in their mouths

They wanted her and her family to talk about their desire for a bigger home, even though they weren’t that bothered about having more space. Bobi had to put her acting skills to work when the cameras started rolling, and it left her feeling like a fraud.

Helping out a friend

Given the Jensens already had a new home to move into, there was no need for them to look around other properties in search of the right one. However, that element is crucial to these real estate shows, so House Hunters apparently faked it all.

David Ridley
Helping out a friend

Bobi revealed that the places she looked around on the program actually belonged to her friends. They weren’t even up for sale! The show just had the owners do an excellent job of tidying their homes, so it looked like they were on the market.

What’s real anymore?

Bobi isn’t the only one that’s called out House Hunters for being faked. Elizabeth Newcamp featured on the program twice, and both times things weren’t entirely authentic. Apparently, on her first episode, Newcamp had already purchased her house, much like Jensen had.

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What’s real anymore?

What’s more, they didn’t even hire a genuine real estate agent to star in the show. Instead, they just brought on a random actor to take on the role. It makes you wonder just how much of this iconic show is real and how much is fake.

Doesn’t fit their image

The immense popularity of House Hunters has meant that the show’s been able to branch out into other ventures, including House Hunters International. Unfortunately, if you thought that this spin-off was more genuine than the original, you’re sadly mistaken.

Jonathan Scott
Doesn’t fit their image

It’s hard to tell what is and isn’t real on this show, especially as producers have previously brought in actors to play the buyers. They supposedly wanted to appeal to a wider audience, so they had younger people play the part of the retirees who were actually buying a home.

Stirring the pot

While Dr. Nate Lambert didn’t experience this when he was on the show, he did notice other issues with House Hunters International during his appearance. For example, producers often pushed him and his partner to be more dramatic about their disagreements so it would make for more compelling TV.

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Stirring the pot

Moreover, the realtor was once again a fake brought in by the show, although there was apparently a good reason for it this time. It was all to do with the way that the Fiji real estate industry works.

Overlooking a big issue

Every year, HGTV has a dream home giveaway where one lucky person gets a chance to live in a house worth millions of dollars. It’s a very luxurious prize, and it comes with other benefits like a new car and cash to spend.

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Overlooking a big issue

However, there’s one big problem with this giveaway – it costs too much. Most winners of the competition end up selling the house or not even living there in the first place because they can’t afford the tax. People tend to just take the cash and enjoy that instead.

The compromise of television

Despite all these shows seemingly being more fake than real, that doesn’t change how addictive they are. While these clients might not all be living their dreams thanks to people like Chip and Joanna or Drew and Jonathan, it’s still fun to watch their journey on TV.

David Ridley
The compromise of television

If we gave up on every program that wasn’t completely authentic, we’d have nothing left to watch! Producers and editors have to tinker with reality if they want their show to be captivating, and that’s a compromise we just have to accept.

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