Is HGTV's House Hunters International Real Or Fake?

Over the last few years, memes have flooded the internet poking fun at HGTV's "House Hunters," highlighting the often unrealistic wish lists and budgets of the home buyers featured. The jokes are only amplified when it comes to the show's spinoff, "House Hunters International," where expats search for their perfect home abroad. Each episode of "House Hunters International" centers on a couple moving to a foreign country and in need of a home. They tour three homes with a realtor before choosing a winner to move into.

But some have claimed that the "House Hunters" franchise is full of secrets and isn't as real as viewers may have originally believed. The show first raised suspicions over 10 years ago, prompting a "House Hunters" publicist to release an official statement. The publicist told Entertainment Weekly, "We've learned that the pursuit of the perfect home involves big decisions that usually take place over a prolonged period of time — more time than we can capture in 30 minutes of television ... We're making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process."

So in making "House Hunters International," how much of what's captured is real, and what's no more than made-for-TV fakery?

The drama on House Hunters International is exaggerated

"House Hunters International" has spanned 176 seasons to date, and with so many episodes, viewers might grow tired of seeing the same predictable home search process again and again. That's why the producers may rile up some drama to keep people hooked on the show.

Since each episode focuses on one house-hunting couple (usually spouses), the partners are often pitted against each other. That's what happened to one "House Hunters International" participant, who penned a Slate article about her experience. She wrote, "We learned immediately that these shows are looking for conflict, so it's important to be ready to fight a little with your spouse." A blogger who appeared on the show echoed this, saying, "... you've got to play up the 'conflict' between you and your spouse ... Whatever your differences of opinion over location, price, design, etc[.] — those things form the basis of the show, so you need to be prepared to make them more of an issue than they actually were."

The couples aren't the only ones acting, however. Both the Slate article and a post published on Medium claim that the realtors used are often not real realtors. Instead, they might be a friend of the couple or an actor hired to step in as a relocation expert.

House Hunters International couples are led on fake home tours

The true stars of "House Hunters International" are the three homes toured by the couples and their "realtors." Viewers get a glimpse of what homes on the market are like all over the world. While the homes are real homes — not staged sets — they often aren't actually for sale, according to The Washington Post. And if they are, they likely aren't the same houses the couple viewed during the house-hunting process.

One home seller told HuffPost that she offered up her villa in Mexico as one of the properties to be rejected by a "House Hunters International" couple, who had already chosen their real home. On the show, couples essentially tour the home they've already moved into (even having movers remove their furniture and belongings for filming) along with two other random homes (per Slate). One participant wrote on Medium, "Really, this show is a dramatic reenactment of your original search with the house you chose and two others that are selected by HGTV."

As part of this reenactment, it's also common for the camera crew to film out of chronological order, capturing the after shots first. The couples may also be instructed to explore their new foreign town as if they just hopped off the plane, even if they've been living there for months.

So, what's real about House Hunters International?

Though it may seem totally fake, there are some truths about HGTV's "House Hunters International." One travel blogger explained that, according to her experience, the show is realistic, and the backstories about the couples are all true. She wrote, "There is no wardrobe, hair or makeup. There is a small camera crew that uses natural lighting and follows you through the experience. The commentary is all of your own, but the crew sometimes does make suggestions ... 'House Hunters' is a reenactment, so although our house hunting experience wasn't exactly what you saw on TV, the general principles of the show are true ... the entire back story [sic] is accurate and we are living in the home we selected!"

Another blogger who had appeared on the show agreed, saying that there had been no script and that the reactions of her and her partner were authentic.

Like a lot of reality shows, "House Hunters International" seems to take a real-world scenario and spin it for TV audiences. And while it might not all be real, it's relatable enough to make us dream of one day moving to a faraway country too — although maybe without the HGTV cameras.