The Biggest Myth HGTV's House Hunters Has Ever Perpetuated

HGTV's "House Hunters" is a master class in why you shouldn't believe everything you see on television — especially when it comes to real estate. The cult-favorite series has long spurred tongue-in-cheek memes where freelance crocheters and penny-farthing technicians magically have a multi-million dollar budget for their new home. But that's not even the most ridiculous myth that this show perpetuates. 

Since 1999, HGTV has produced a whopping 235 seasons of "House Hunters," which means we've had plenty of time to learn all the wrong things from this home-buying reality TV show. Sure, it's fun to peruse new houses with the featured clients. But "House Hunters" has also created some cognitive dissonance between its portrayal and the actual reality of today's housing market. 

And while it might be a no-brainer that a budget of $2.4 million is unlikely with a household income of less than $60,000, some housing market myths on "House Hunters" are far more likely to dupe you.

It's not as straightforward as you think

The "House Hunters" formula is simple. Buyers describe their budgets and what they're looking for in a house, and then they tour three properties to buy or rent before settling on their one "dream" home. Sounds straightforward, right? Wrong. As Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified, told HuffPost, the home-buying process isn't nearly as short and sweet. 

In a typical "House Hunters" episode, it takes 30 minutes for hopeful homebuyers to tour and select one of three homes. While this makes for great TV, DiBugnara says that the series has created unrealistic expectations in the real estate market. Buyers assume it will only take a few tours to find their dream home, and when it doesn't, they become frustrated or disheartened. However, DiBugnara says this process is normal.

"Presently, with the lack of homes for sale, as a national trend, it has become very common for it to take greater than a year for a buyer to find a home and sign a contract," he continued. "This means a lot of hours scouring the internet and even more time spent going to see homes and open houses on weekends." Even the HGTV episodes themselves take a lot longer to film than you might think

Don't let reality TV paint your actual reality

Oh, and the three tours themselves? Yeah, those are staged, too. According to the Washington Post, "House Hunters" clients have not only seen the house they'll ultimately choose before filming — they've already gone under contract on it. The other homes are either ones the clients have already passed on, are staged by third parties, or are selected by the show's producers. Clients also have to follow specific "House Hunters" rules, including redoing scenes and wardrobe selections. As it turns out, all that hemming, hawing, and in-between banter is just good, old-fashioned show biz, baby. 

In today's housing market, even successfully going under contract is a myth in and of itself. Modern average home values have ballooned 118% since 1965 from $171,942 to $374,900, while median income has only grown 18% — from $59,920 to $69,178, per Real Estate Witch. REW's data also shows that, on average, homes cost over five times more than what the average household makes in a single year. If you think those numbers don't add up, you'd be right. 

However, if you're lucky enough to secure financing or other means to procure property, remember — just because you saw it on "House Hunters" doesn't mean it's true. Be prepared for a long, arduous house hunt, but rest assured that the success of finally finding your dream home will be that much sweeter because of it.