Authenticity of HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’ Questioned

By ABC News

Jun 15, 2012 7:52am

ABC News’ Amy Robach reports:

A widely popular reality-TV show that helps families look for a home might not be “reality” at all, according to one family’s account, who say they had to buy the house before the show began shooting.

HGTV’s “House Hunters” takes prospective buyers through three different houses, offering viewers a quick guessing game as to which home they will choose. Thirty minutes later, the family makes their pick.

Bobi Jensen says that’s not the case after she and her husband were featured on the show in 2006.

“They kind of wait to make sure you close on your house and that you’re actually going to be ready to film for them, ” Jensen said.

Jensen recently blogged about her behind-the-scenes experience, not realizing the uproar it would create.

She wrote on a popular housing blog that the producers asked her to find some houses just to look at.

“It felt like we just had a few days to scrounge up some houses to look at and it was our responsibility to find the houses …,” Jensen said. “And, finally, the producer just said find any houses you can. Just find something.”

Jensen asked friends to let them use their homes, which they weren’t even selling.

HGTV programming executive Brian Balthazar said that using not-for-sale homes was a unique decision the show did not make.

“In this episode, her husband was the real estate agent,” Balthazar said. “In fact, and she references this in her article, they made the decision to show their friends homes, because they couldn’t find one.”

Fans of the show have reacted strongly to Jensen’s blog, expressing outrage over its authenticity.

One person writes, “Wow. You always think these shows are fairly staged, but not that much.” Another fan claims that “since it’s so fake, I will not tape it or watch it.”

Balthazar dismisses any notion that “House Hunters” is staged: “You’re seeing real people finding the real home of their dreams. And that’s all spelled out right on the show.”

Jensen told ABC News Wednesday that she feels terrible if she has stopped people from watching the show.

She believes, regardless of how “House Hunters” is produced, the real enjoyment comes from getting a sneak peek inside other people’s homes and guessing which house the family will buy.

Even after all the production and staging, Jensen says,  it was a fun experience to be a part of.

“It was fun, I just really enjoyed it,” she said. “I love walking through houses. I love talking about houses.”

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