The Untold Truth Of HGTV's House Hunters International

On smash-hit series HGTV's House Hunters International, the stakes are relatively low, as you can be sure things will always work out. And there is something oddly relaxing about watching a show where you are almost completely positive that it's only going to end one way. But the show has a lot more going for it than meets the eye. 

House Hunters International is a spin-off of the network's United States-based series, House Hunters, and follows couples, families, and singles as they venture out of their comfort zones to move abroad. As the show explores new cities and places all over the world, viewers also get to experience what life would be like in a new country. There is definitely a fantasy element to House Hunters International, and, whether or not you're a fan of the show, there's no denying the fact that there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that might just shock even the most dedicated viewer.

The homeowners on HGTV's House Hunters International pick their homes before filming starts

The whole point of HGTV's House Hunters International is that viewers get to watch as homebuyers look for their prospective new home and fans guess which one they'll end up choosing. However, the fact of the matter is that the homeowners who appear on House Hunters International have already chosen their new residence before the show films, according to E! News. They may even already be living in it (via Slate).

This was revealed by a woman who appeared on the show and was confirmed by HGTV, the network behind other popular shows Christina on the Coast, Windy City Rehab, and Hidden Potential. "We're making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints while honoring the home buying process," a publicist for House Hunters revealed in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. "To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions." So, though it may seem like the buyer has no clue which house to choose, they've actually already chosen.

You get paid more to be on HGTV's House Hunters International than House Hunters

A lot of reality shows that focus on one family or group of friends (think Keeping Up With the Kardashians or The Real Housewives franchise) tend to pay their stars quite a bit of money. After all, they are on a show week after week. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Kardashian family, including Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian, and Kendall Jenner, makes about $80 million per season. But unfortunately for the people who appear on HGTV's House Hunters International, their paychecks are a lot smaller. According to Elizabeth Newcamp, who appeared on both House Hunters International and House Hunters, the pay isn't anything special, but you do get paid more to be on the international version of the show.

"We would be paid a flat rate of $1,500 for our time," Newcamp wrote of her paycheck from House Hunters International for Slate. But when she was on regular House Hunters, she got even less. "They actually only pay $500 for domestic House Hunters," she noted. 

Sure, being on House Hunters International isn't going to pay you the big bucks, but it's more than being on the original version of the show.

The interview process for HGTV's House Hunters International is intense

Since HGTV only features homebuyers who have already settled on a house to appear on House Hunters International, it makes sense that they would be selective in other areas of the interview process. According to Mental Floss (via Insider), 100 to 200 people apply to be on House Hunters every single week — that's a lot of people! And common sense tells us that House Hunters International could receive a similar amount of applicants.

So, naturally, HGTV has to be selective when choosing people to appear on House Hunters International. According to the HGTV website, applying to be on the show is simple enough. "Send an e-mail telling us about yourselves and the details of your move to and we'll send you additional information," the website directs. However, it's obviously not as easy as that. As Elizabeth Newcamp wrote for Slate, not only did she and her husband have to fill out an application, but they also had to send in "iPhone footage of each of us giving a house tour" and give "a Skype interview with a casting director, focusing on how we might be in conflict while looking for a house." 

Clearly, being on HGTV's House Hunters International is no easy feat.

HGTV's House Hunters International doesn't candy-coat the difficulties of moving abroad

For the homebuyers on HGTV's House Hunters International, moving abroad is usually their dream. After all, it isn't an easy process to deal with real estate agents, mortgages, and the search for your ideal location in the United States, let alone in a country where people might not speak English or where you don't know anyone. But on House Hunters International, the show doesn't candy-coat all the difficulties of moving abroad. In fact, the show makes it very clear that buying a house overseas takes a lot of guts.

Samantha Stubin, a producer on House Hunters International told Yahoo! Lifestyle that she sees how brave the house hunters are on the show. "All the hunters have one thing in common: They're brave, that's for sure," she said. "I've also learned that it definitely takes patience. Every culture is different and moves at its own pace." House Hunters International may be a TV show, but that doesn't mean it isn't real, as it certainly does highlight all the ups and downs of buying a house internationally.

It can take a while for applicants to actually be on HGTV's House Hunters International

Though there have been over 140 seasons of HGTV's House Hunters International (yes, you read that correctly), and there definitely doesn't seem to be a shortage of people who want to appear on the show, that doesn't mean production always moves quickly. In fact, even if you do get approved to appear on House Hunters International, it can take quite a while before you actually get to film your episode.

As Elizabeth Newcamp, who appeared on House Hunters International, wrote for Slate, her episode took months to start filming after she got approved. "Shortly after the interview we found out we were cast, but then waited months with no further word," she wrote. "Jeff and I often wondered if we had been dropped. During this wait I found out I was pregnant." By the time filming was locked down, Newcamp explained that she was "seven months pregnant." So that means it took over seven months for her episode to start filming after she applied. That's a long wait time!

A lot of HGTV's House Hunters International is fabricated

As most fans of reality television know, shows might claim to be "real," but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of staging from producers to make the content even juicier. The same is true on HGTV's House Hunters International. Though the show is about real people looking for a real home, that doesn't mean all of the drama is totally real. According to Elizabeth Newcamp, who wrote an article for Slate about her time on the show, all of the tension between her and husband was completely made up.

"We learned immediately that these shows are looking for conflict, so it's important to be ready to fight a little with your spouse," she explained. Newcamp also noted that she had to pretend a lot about her must-haves. "You take your real-world wants, and in each house you visit, you ham that up," she wrote. "At the producers' urging, I soon became all about the bathtub." In real life, Newcamp didn't care that much about having a bathtub, but it made for more interesting TV that she did. Just like most reality shows are fabricated to some extent, so too is the drama on House Hunters International.

There's not always an actual realtor on HGTV's House Hunters International

Obviously, finding a real estate agent abroad can be a challenge in and of itself, but finding one who also speaks English and is willing to be on an American TV show is a whole different game. So, when HGTV's House Hunters International can't find an actual realtor, they improvise. Real-life house-hunter, Elizabeth Newcamp, who appeared on House Hunters International, wrote for Slate that sometimes there's not even an actual realtor on the show.

"When they couldn't find a local real estate agent, the House Hunters International producers needed a Dutch person who was willing to be on camera for $500 as our 'relocation expert,'" she wrote. "Our neighbor and friend Michael, who actually works in IT, was happy to oblige." So any time you watch House Hunters International, just be aware that those people who are acting like realtors might not actually work in real estate. It's all the magic of television — and the lure of $500, of course.

HGTV's House Hunters International works with local camera crews

Though HGTV might not always be able to find a local real estate agent to feature on the show, they do try to stay local when it comes to camera crews. Of course, this makes sense as having to shell out a ton of money to put up an entire camera crew in a hotel and pay for travel costs would get really expensive really quickly. Still, it's interesting that HGTV likes to work with local crews, as it gives viewers a more authentic experience of what that location is all about.

Samantha Stubin, who is a producer on HGTV's House Hunters International, gave an interview to Yahoo! Lifestyle in which she explained how the process of scouting locations usually goes. "I usually work with local crews, which is sort of like having a personal tour guide," she explained. By utilizing locals, HGTV and House Hunters International provide everyone at home with a front-row seat to exotic and dreamy locations that many people could only ever dream of visiting.

HGTV's House Hunters International is reportedly a little ageist

Most people who go on HGTV's House Hunters International are those people who can afford to move abroad. Of course, sometimes a younger couple will relocate for a job, or a single young woman will move abroad simply because she can, but a lot of the buyers featured on House Hunters International tend to be older couples. Unfortunately, HGTV was allegedly getting sick of featuring older couples when they shot one particular episode, and the way they problem-solved was somewhat problematic.

According to HuffPost, a woman whose home appeared on an episode of House Hunters International explained that the show did some crazy things. In this particular episode, "the actual almost-home-owners were American expats in their late fifties," but, because HGTV wanted a younger demographic, "the producers swapped in a younger couple to play the buyers." obviously the network wanted to appeal to a younger audience, but that's not exactly being age-positive.

HGTV's House Hunters International is a great advertisement for international locations

As HGTV's House Hunters International travels all over the world to film homebuyers looking for their perfect house, viewers get to see what it would be like to move abroad. And though moving to another country can be intimidating, the show is actually a great advertisement for the international locations it features.

As one woman told HuffPost, she was in the midst of selling her Mexican vacation home when "a realtor friend suggested that we contact the producers of House Hunters' to see if they would consider using it for their International spin-off." The woman explained that, because House Hunters International had actually been to the area before, "the realtor had seen a notable increase in interest in local real estate after the show had aired." 

Naturally, when you watch a show like House Hunters International or any other travel show, you might get the itch to visit a new place. So clearly, not only is the hit series entertaining, but it's also great for local real estate and tourism.

The narrator of HGTV's House Hunters International knows her voice is captivating

If you've ever watched more than one episode of HGTV's House Hunters International, then you'll likely find the main voice behind the show to be very familiar. Though Andromeda Dunker has never been one to look for fame, she gave an interview to BuzzFeed News in 2017, explaining what it was like to be the voice behind the iconic show since 2009.

While Dunker didn't feel the need to go public for a while, her 2017 interview revealed that she was very aware of how people love her voice. "A lot of people have told me that they watch it in the background or at night and it lulls them to sleep," she told BuzzFeed. "I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm tucking them in at night or that I'm giving them a big hug." 

So while Dunker might not have a face that you would be able to pick out of a crowd, her voice is one in a million, and it's pretty relaxing, too.

HGTV's House Hunters International has switched up its narrators

While Andromeda Dunker might be the main narrator behind HGTV's House Hunters International, the network has actually switched up the voices behind the show a few times. As BuzzFeed News reported in 2019, loyal fans of the show and of the original series, House Hunters, began to notice that the voice behind the show didn't sound the same.

It's unclear just who HGTV started using in Dunker's place at the time, but, when BuzzFeed reached out to the longtime narrator, she appeared to also be confused. However, Dunker explained that she was still recording episodes of House Hunters International at the time, and she had no plans on stopping. "It's really rare for a show to be this popular for this long and for someone to have a job like this for 10 years," she said. "I feel really lucky." 

Dunker added that she would love to work on the show "forever," something fans would definitely appreciate.

Some of the homes you see on HGTV's House Hunters International aren't even for sale

At this point, it's no secret that HGTV's House Hunters International does a lot of staging and fabricating to make the situations seem more authentic. Though many house hunters on the show have already purchased their home, they make it look as if they can't make up their minds. Similarly, if there aren't a lot of houses on the market when the show goes to film on location, they improvise to the best of their abilities.

Elizabeth Newcamp, a real-life house hunter who was on House Hunters International and House Hunters, wrote for Slate, "The houses we toured for the show were not for sale." As Newcamp explained, the city they were moving to "had very little housing turnover," so HGTV set up a tour of "two properties that were listed for rent on Airbnb." Sure, it might not have been the real houses they were torn between when making their actual home-buying decision, but the network did what they could to make the situation seem as real as possible.

Crew members will sometimes have to get in front of the camera for HGTV's House Hunters International

House Hunters International and HGTV are nothing if not flexible. The show definitely has to work with what it have a lot of the time, and sometimes that even means putting a crew member in front of the camera.

Samantha Stubin, executive producer for HGTV's House Hunters International, told Yahoo! Lifestyle that one of her most exciting days on set was when she had to step in front of the camera just so there could be a female on screen. "The general manager of the resort informed me that he didn't have any women to appear on camera," she explained. "So a local male model and I spent the next two days pretending we were a couple, snorkeling with star fish, and getting massages in the world's first underwater spa." Truly, that sounds like a dream job in itself, and, even though House Hunters International had to put a producer on screen, it's likely that viewers couldn't even tell the difference.