What It's Really Like To Be On An HGTV Show

We've all dreamed about what it would be like on an HGTV show. It would be so easy to get our houses the way we want if only we had our fave home renovation stars take over, right? Not surprisingly, the couples who appear on the shows are always ecstatic to see their newly renovated homes. After all, they get to move into a space that seems to be straight out of a magazine.

Behind the scenes, however, can tell a very different story. Many HGTV shows are actually hiding some surprising secrets. Yes, the people do actually purchase the homes, the rehab budget is very real, and the couples are certainly not actors. Yet, even though these details can put a damper on our HGTV dreams — it is made for entertainment, after all — there's something still so satisfying about binge-watching these shows.

While you wait for the HGTV casting directors to call you back, read on to find out what it's really like to be a contestant on one of these shows.

This HGTV show leaves the house hunting up to the contestants

It seems so easy to have the HGTV team find you the home you always envisioned having. However, this isn't exactly how it happens. As it turns out, you may be the one having to hunt for the perfect house yourself.

While each episode of an HGTV show portrays the pressure people feel as they patiently wait to see if their offer is accepted, it's unfortunately all an act. "They didn't even 'accept' us being a subject for [House Hunters] until we closed on the house we were buying," Bobi Jensen, who appeared on Season 3, revealed to Hooked on Houses. "So then when they decided to film our episode we had to scramble to find houses to tour and pretend we were considering." In fact, the houses they looked at weren't even for sale — they were their friends' homes!

When Elizabeth Newcamp appeared on HGTV's House Hunters — not just once, but twice — her family had already been living in their home for months. They had to hire a moving company to store their stuff for a day so cameras could capture them on a fake tour of their own home (via Slate).

HGTV shows require contestants to put in long hours

For someone who isn't working on a television production every day, the amount of time required to shoot is shocking. "We spent close to eight hours filming one house of the three homes the couple will see," realtor Leslie Remy, a contestant on House Hunters, revealed to The Dallas Morning News. "It's a 30-minute show; that'll probably be less than 10 minutes on TV."

In fact, scheduling conflicts may prohibit some people from being on the show. Five days of filming are required for House Hunters alone, which is the same amount of time as missing an entire work week.

First time homebuyer Tess Pipp, who appeared on HGTV's House Hunters in 2015, had to rearrange her work schedule in order to hunt for houses. Much like the fast-paced world of realty, the world of reality TV gives its guests last minute schedules too, which makes it even more difficult. "It was hard to coordinate with work, but I was able to get people to cover my shift because I'm a nurse," she explained to the Boston Business Journal.

You won't spend much time with the HGTV stars

The allure of being on air has a lot of people dreaming of being on HGTV. Not only do guests get a new home or renovation, they also get to star alongside some of the network's biggest names. Unfortunately, it's not for very long.

HGTV's Fixer Upper, for instance, had some of the most dedicated fans flocking to Waco, Texas to catch a glimpse of Chip and Joanna Gaines' lives. If you were lucky enough to have been cast on their show, you would've actually only met with the couple twice (via Country Living). You'd have probably become closer buddies with the camera guy.

While the Gaines duo were pretty involved in the actual renovations on Fixer Upper, other HGTV hosts are more hands-off. "I had limited interaction with the on-air talent," Cenate Pruitt, who appeared on Curb Appeal: The Block, told The A.V. Club. "John Gidding, the host, showed up two or three times throughout the shoot. He would park his convertible, walk around and do a stand-up or something, then drive off." If you apply for an HGTV show, expect a home renovation, but don't expect to become buddy-buddy with David Bromstad or Christina Anstead.

You will be coached on what to wear if you appear on an HGTV show

For your big television moment, you'll definitely want to dress your best. However, what you think is your cutest outfit may not cut it. Before showing up for your first day on set, HGTV producers will instruct you to have a few outfits at the ready.

Some of their directions on what to wear are purely for technical reasons. "I couldn't wear a necklace because it would interfere with the mic," realtor Leslie Remy explained to The Dallas Morning News. However, some of it is all about getting the best shot possible for the show. "I brought four extra outfits and they were like, 'nope, nope, nope,'" Remy also admitted.

Unlike being an actor on a television set, guests appearing on House Hunters don't have access to makeup or wardrobe departments (via Slate). This means that much like your home renovation, your hair, makeup, and ensemble is your responsibility.

You'll likely need a plus one to star in an HGTV show

Applying to appear on an HGTV show is as easy as filling out an application on the network's website. But even if you're on the hunt for a house to live in alone, you'll likely need someone else to appear on air alongside you.

House Hunters requires a "tour partner" and, according to the casting call for Property Brothers: Forever Home, the HGTV show requires "two participants to appear on camera on all shoot days." Luckily, your sidekick can honestly be just about anybody — your neighbor, your mom, your bestie — but before filling out a form, make sure that your friend's schedule will align with yours. If your calendars don't sync up, you'll likely get cut.

And even while your buddy may not be living in the house with you, it's important they have an opinion on how your house is coming together. It is a television show, after all. However, it's still your real life, so choose your sidekick wisely. If your best friend has big opinions, it may be best to leave them at home — their own home.

You could lose your privacy after appearing on HGTV

You may get your dream home from HGTV, but you could lose something else: your privacy. There are fans out there who like to find these famous houses and snatch selfies with them. More dedicated fans may even knock on your door and ask to take a look inside (via The Kansas City Star).

However, for Josh and Jill Barrett, who appeared on Season 2 of Fixer Upper, this intrusion was exactly what they needed. After unexpectedly becoming unemployed, they started giving tours of their property and even began renting it out for extra cash. "We're kind of like, 'Come one, come all. Come on in!'" She told House Beautiful.

Obviously, the owners are able to do what they want with their houses. However, not everyone may agree. "We have no problems with our clients' interest in using sites like VRBO and Airbnb to rent out their homes. In fact, we get it," Magnolia spokesman Brock Murphy said in a 2016 statement to Waco Tribune-Herald. "But we are going to be more strict with our contracts involving 'Fixer Upper' clients moving forward."

You may get paid to be on an HGTV show

While house hunting on House Hunters, you'll be getting paid too. Kim Christenson, who appeared on the show in 2015, revealed in an article for Utah Valley 360 that she and her husband were given a flat rate of $500 for their time. It's not a lot of cash, of course, but it's a nice little bonus that homeowners can put toward some furnishing their new space.

This payment is a tiny portion of how much the show costs. According to Christenson, each episode costs around $45,000 to $50,000 to produce. Elizabeth Newcamp, who appeared on the series some two years after Christenson, told Slate she was given three times that amount — $1,500 — so it seems the rates have increased along with the show's popularity.

Unfortunately, the realtors on the show aren't paid anything at all. However, the exposure may boost their careers; free publicity is the ultimate payment from HGTV.

Your HGTV episode will probably be shot out of order

It seems like a pretty straight forward series of events: You pick out a house you like, put together some design ideas, and then get renovating. However, HGTV doesn't usually shoot its shows in that order.

The very first time Cenate Pruitt and his wife Wendy met with the Curb Appeal: The Block crew on camera, they were instructed to essentially become actors. "They stop us and say, 'Actually, can you guys re-exit the house again and act like you all know each other? Because this is going in a different point of the show,'" he explained to The A.V. Club. "So when we met to go over the design, sketches, and color palette, we had to act like we'd never met each other even though we'd just met a couple of weeks earlier," Pruitt continued. Hey, at least they were already comfortable with the crew!

You'll probably have to do a few retakes for the HGTV show

If you're planning to be on HGTV, it might be best to brush up on your acting skills. While the producers won't feed you specific lines off-camera, they may ask you to repeat yourself in a few different ways.

"The first time you walk through the house, you say what you'd naturally say without any prompting," Michelle Becker, who appeared on House Hunters, revealed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The second time, you go room by room, with the producer often asking, 'Can you be more dramatic?'"

Additionally, the back stories HGTV creates for guests on the show might also be a bit amplified. That blue bathroom someone appears to be obsessed with might not be as big of a deal as the show makes it out to be. It only makes sense, though, considering the crew is creating it to be entertaining. "We're making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints," the show's publicist admitted to Entertainment Weekly. Even with this being the case, the initial reactions are real. You may just be asked to act surprised for a second time (via Country Living).

You need a pretty big budget to qualify for HGTV shows

Somebody has to pay for all of the incredible renovations on HGTV — and all the pressure is on the people who purchase the homes. Before even being considered, you'll need to have thousands of dollars at your disposal.

According to the casting call for Property Brothers: Forever Home and Love It or List It, $70,000 is the minimum requirement to make your dream home a reality. When HGTV was casting for Fixer Upper, you would've needed significantly less: $30,000 (via Country Living).

"You have to sign off on your budget at the beginning," Rachel Whyte, whose new home appeared on Fixer Upper Season 3, told Country Living. However, you don't necessarily have a say in how it will all be spent. "The budget goes towards your wish list, but the design team will also make decisions about what they think the home needs to be a TV-worthy renovation."

You could incur extra expensives from your HGTV renovation

Setting your home up with HGTV may seem like a great way to get an upgrade, but you could also be setting yourself up to deal with some longterm costs you weren't expecting. "The biggest shock was all the landscaping work," Cenate Pruitt, who appeared on Curb Appeal: The Block, admitted to The A.V. Club. The upkeep ended up being much more than he could keep up with. He and his wife Wendy spent almost $1,500 every year to have landscapers help them maintain the plants they paid for when they were part of the show. They've since moved into a new home altogether.

Newly renovated homes can also come with added square footage, which is great for resale value, but not so great when you're actually living in the house. Many people don't think about the higher property taxes they could be responsible for after the camera crew leaves. "Once the fun is over and you have to deal with the consequences — maybe it wasn't so fun after all," Pruitt admitted.

You may not even get a fully remodeled home after being on an HGTV show

If you've ever wondered why some HGTV shows don't show every room during their big reveals, there's an unfortunate reason behind it. A lot of times, the whole house isn't actually renovated.

If you appear on Property Brothers, expect to only have four to six areas of your home renovated. While you may get the nice kitchen you've always dreamed of, you may be stuck with your outdated bathroom. HGTV's Fixer Upper, on the other hand, may have addressed each room. The spaces you don't see on camera were sometimes cut from television for the sake of time and often had only had basic upgrades, such as new flooring and a fresh coat of paint (via Rachel Todoro).

If you're looking to save money, only renovating important rooms might be best. "We did the other two bedrooms and bathrooms ourselves after moving in, in an effort to save money," Rachel Whyte, whose home is featured on Fixer Upper Season 3, explained to Country Living. "In hindsight, we should have had Chip and Joanna do it all. Remodeling a house you live in is not very fun!"

Furniture may not be included in your HGTV renovation

Renovations are expensive in and of themselves and, unfortunately, the furniture doesn't always come free. After the big reveal on Fixer Upper, trucks come to haul items away. However, homeowners can purchase any of the pieces used to style the home, and all of the custom woodwork made by Clint is theirs to keep  — so you can at least rest easy knowing that! Besides, "you wouldn't want to get rid of all your furniture," Season 3's Rachel Whyte told Country Living, adding, "I was excited to fill our home with our things and make it ours."

If you want to live in a home straight off of HGTV, though, applying to Property Brothers is probably your best bet. All of the furniture is included in the budget you give the brothers. They even try to reuse as many of your own things as they can (via Star Tribune).

You might not like how the HGTV show renovated your home

Everyone always looks ecstatic to see their new houses on reveal day, but some people from HGTV are less than pleased with their new spaces — despite the cameras showing otherwise.

Cenate Pruitt, who appeared on Curb Appeal: The Block, was bummed about how his basement turned out. Not only did he lose out on storage space, but it was allegedly poorly designed and flooded as a result. "I had to go out at maybe 9:30 or 10 to Home Depot — as it's closing — and rent a swimming pool pump," he told The A.V. Club. One couple who appeared on HGTV's Love It or List It even went as far as filing a lawsuit. They claimed that their floors were so damaged from the makeover and holes in the duct work allowed critters to enter the home (via The Charlotte Observer).

These are extreme cases, of course; many couples can't stop gushing over their new homes. Just make sure to remember one thing before renovating your house on national television: Some aspects of HGTV's reality shows aren't all that real.