Hilary Farr Knows Love It Or List It Helped HGTV Succeed - But It Almost Didn't Happen

Hilary Farr's announcement of her departure from HGTV's "Love It or List It" was a sad moment for fans of the long-running show. It wasn't entirely out of the blue, though, as she had filmed over 250 episodes and previously noted that the series' copy-and-paste process for each one left her feeling uncreative and stale.

That's not to say she isn't thankful for all the series has done for her, of course. "It's been a wonderful 12 years. I'm so grateful to the network for their support and to my fans who have stayed loyal and true," she said in a statement, per the NY Daily News. The newly divorced mom of one had moved to Toronto shortly before being picked up for "Love It or List It" in 2008. Having grown up in London, her no-nonsense personality and charming yet curt accent brought some much-needed sass to the show.

However, both "Love It or List It" and HGTV were almost goners at one point, according to reports. HGTV, owned by Scripps Network at its inception in the early '90s, wasn't the juggernaut it is known as today. They were in such dire straits, Farr confessed to Vulture, "I suppose I am happy to have contributed to the success of HGTV, though, because when we started in 2008 in Toronto and then the show was finally picked up in 2011...they were on a slippery slope downward. They've acknowledged this; our show literally brought them back."

HGTV took a gamble on Hilary

HGTV struck it rich with "Love It or List It" and its co-hosts, Hilary Farr and David Visentin. However, signing on Farr was a leap of faith for the company at the time. "The only reason it took so long for them to pick up Love It or List It in the U.S. was because they were convinced that everybody would hate me because of my snippy accent and my semi-snippy personality," she told Vulture. The program began in Ontario as a Canadian series, being picked up in 2008 by the W Network, which worked out great for Toronto resident Farr. For six years, they filmed on location in Toronto and other nearby Ontario locales before finally moving the entire crew and production to North Carolina in 2014.

The move didn't seem to hurt the show's popularity. However, Farr did garner mixed reviews, with some appreciating her penchant for telling homeowners like it is without sugarcoating important factors such as the budget. Other fans questioned if the show was fake and perceived her as "two-faced." Still, Farr believes that moving the show from Canada to the U.S. was the right move. 

After the pandemic, "Love It or List It" moved back to Canada, where the series had since two launched spin-offs, "Love It or List It Vancouver" and "Love It or List It Vacation Homes." The Toronto Star calls it "one of the most successful franchises in Canadian history."

The show's influence on HGTV can't be downplayed

After HGTV premiered in 1994, viewers were delighted with its house-hunting and home-renovating offerings. But the network began to falter after the early aughts. The Great Recession of 2007 likely made viewers less apt to spend money on housing. Then, in 2012, the news broke that one of HGTV's favorite series, "House Hunters," wasn't exactly the real deal but more of a partially scripted real estate reality show. While the network probably wasn't in danger of going off-air entirely, it certainly needed some positive press around the time "Love It or List It" was conceptualized.

Along with confirming that their show saved HGTV from the brink, home designer Hilary Farr also cemented the fact that the long-running series is a serious fan favorite. "I am still gobsmacked sometimes by the people who tell me that they are fans. They're incredibly successful, high-profile, busy people, and yet they watch my show. That is gratifying and mystifying and extraordinary to me," she noted to Vulture. Fans include the likes of Hilary Clinton and reportedly other high-profile celebs.

Farr attributes the success of "Love It or List It" to its (at the time) novel concept, "Because we were the very first combination design and real-estate show and because of the relationship between me and David, I think it has resonated so deeply with people," she said. It was a good incentive for the show to use the same formula for years, but eventually, that's what drove Farr away.