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TV Column
Posted at 09:56 AM ET, 06/14/2012

HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’ featured houses not for sale at the time in episode

Some Reporters/Bloggers/Fans Who Cover Television are in an uproar over the revelation that people purported to be looking for a new home on HGTV’s “House Hunters” had already decided what house they were going to buy and that the other houses they looked at in the episode weren’t even on the market at the time.

One blogger declared the revelation to be of “Woodward/Bernstein-esque” proportions.

“We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the homebuying process,” HGTV has said in a statement, after one of the “house hunters” in the episode outed the network.

“To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process,” continued HGTV, adding: “Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties” when they look at other homes, even though they’re no longer looking.

The whistleblower/show participant Bobi Jensen was “forced to betray our trust,” as one blogger put it. Bobi J told the blog Hooked on Houses that the show would only “accept” her and her husband as subjects for the show after they’d closed on the house they were buying. She said the show then scrambled to find houses for them to tour and to pretend they were considering. Those houses, she said, turned out to be the homes of two friends, and homes not formally on the market.

Of course, Bobi could have declined to participate in the ruse, so maybe “forced” doesn’t best describe her predicament. Bobi’s husband, in fact, was a real-estate agent at the time, and Bobi freely acknowledged that they were eager to be featured on the show, because it was “free advertising.”

In other shocking “House Hunters” news, it has come to light, thanks to Bobi J, that the producers often shoot five or six takes on a “spontaneous” scene.

“My hubby hates ‘being fake,’ ” complained Bobi J, who added that hubby is now a lawyer — but that they continue to flip houses on the side.

Bobi J has explained in her own blog that the producers relied on them to set up the homes to tour, explaining that they tried, unsuccessfully, to find homes actually for sale where they were allowed to shoot footage. “I think they were afraid we’d show their house in a bad light,” she said. “Plus, the San Antonio real estate market was bustling at that time and no one needed free advertising . . . especially when the episode wouldn’t air for six more months.”

Besides, Bobi J rationalized, “Friends whose houses we toured were in the midst of working towards life changes (job promotions, out-of-state moves) and both thought they might be selling in the next few years — so it wasn’t such a far stretch for them to want theirs featured.” In fact, she added: “One actually went on the market and sold before the show aired.”

“I’d like to make clear that I love HGTV!” Bobi added.

Now is maybe not a good time to reveal that some of the celebrity amateurs on “Dancing With the Stars” have had prior dance training and professional dance experience; and that almost no marriage proposals on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are genuine, and they hardly ever results in an actual, you know, marriages, because the participants are really doing it in a bid to become famous and launch an on-screen career.

By  |  09:56 AM ET, 06/14/2012

 
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