The Homeowners Get Free Furniture
On camera, it looks like HGTV is out there giving people free furniture to renovate their homes but that’s not the reality of it. HGTV is notorious for decorating homes on TV and taking all the furniture back to use on another show. On Fixer Upper, the featured couple or individual in need of renovation will receive at least one furniture item that they can keep. All of the other furniture is just part of the stage.
The furniture on display after the renovation is a bit like the furniture in a model home. It may be better quality and built to last, but all that stuff goes back into HGTV’s vault to be used on another show. The good news is that the furniture piece you can keep will be something nice and expensive like a dining room table. Once the filming of the show is done, HGTV does provide an itemized list of everything staged in the home and that list will come with discounted prices listed next to each item.
Realtors Don’t Work Hard
Real estate agents on the show are often depicted as not doing very much when it comes to buying and selling homes. Real-life realtors like Sissy Lapin, the author of ListingDoor, take issue with the depiction of realtors on the HGTV shows. Lapin told CheatSheet that shows like House Hunters “make the agent look like they’re just these lazy people who show two houses and negotiate $1,000 off the asking price.”
The reality is quite different of course. Most real estate agents tackle the whole home buying and selling process which is actually quite complicated and drawn out. They inform clients what they should think about when choosing a home and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
HGTV shows always make a point of showing homebuyers or owners must-have new features on their shows. But these must-have features are nothing more than product placements. Sponsorships from other companies are one of the ways that HGTV makes its money and that means they have to give them advertising.
While it’s okay to be wowed by the new innovations for your own home – the one that you are actually going to live in – it’s another thing to imply that these features are must-haves for selling your home. Many of the features HGTV are telling us are must-haves are not needed at all and you’ll just be throwing money in the proverbial toilet if you invest in them.
Renovation is Cheap and Easy
Renovation is definitely neither cheap nor easy. But HGTV definitely has a habit of making it look that way, including downplaying the costs and time needed. While people like The Property Brothers may be able to do renovations on a relatively low budget and perform them in a matter of hours, that’s not typically what it’s like, particularly because you are actually hiring professionals.
Contractors hate shows like these because they give the wrong impression as to what it takes for a full renovation. And certainly, pricing on those shows is never accurate and sometimes the work is done shoddily. One couple that was featured on Love It or List It ended up suing the production company because their home became “irreparably damaged.”
Location is Not Important
HGTV shows rarely if ever focus on location. As a matter of fact, you probably wouldn’t think it was important at all if you watched HGTV regularly because of how little they talk about it. Ideally, you don’t just want the most lavish home your money can buy, you also want it to be in a prime location.
You can have the greatest house in the world but if you have to drive miles and miles out of your way to run errands or take an hour to commute to work every morning, your home is not in an ideal location and eventually you are going to not be so happy about that. Never underestimate the value of location.
Buyers are Not as Dumb as They Think
HGTV likes to portray home buyers as naive and unwitting in the ways of shopping around for a home. They usually know exactly what they can afford and what they need in a home. They aren’t lost like a kid at the candy store. And with the digital age upon us, people are doing their research.
And it makes total sense. Most people are checking WebMD before they go to the doctor so why wouldn’t they research before making the biggest purchase in their life. But HGTV insists that buyers have no idea what they want or what they can afford. They either think people are stupid or want to portray them that way to make themselves look like experts.
They People are Selected at Random
Everyone on the show seems to act real coy about it but they are on that show to be featured on TV. HGTV makes it look like you are watching some kind of documentary about people, looking into their life – as if they were buying a home and HGTV just happened to find them. But no, that’s not it at all.
To be featured on HGTV, you need to be a fan and apply. However, in addition to having seen the show, you must disclose whether or not you have applied to be on other HGTV programs. Because it would be odd and totally sus if one couple showed up on multiple HGTV shows.
No Genuine Reactions
It might be hard to forget sometimes when you are watching but HGTV shows are just like any other reality show. It should come as no surprise that they are often staged and drama is almost always played up. You will be required to do some acting during filming so that you seem more surprised than you really are.
And sometimes, it's not just pretending to have a certain reaction to something. Sometimes, you may actually need to repeat lines for the camera, so that the teams can get different angle shots. So, the staged element is definitely going to be there, and you are going to have to sound the same for every shot.
The Homes on 'House Hunters' are Already Chosen Before They Film
House Hunters is one of the longest-running and most beloved series on the HGTV network. Since 1999, this show has put out a whopping 1700+ episodes where participants agonize over purchasing the perfect home. But, if the allegation from former participants is true, there's a lot of TV magic and mischief going on behind the scenes.
According to some who have appeared on the series, the participants in House Hunters aren't actually agonizing over their choice of homes, and that's because they've already purchased a home before filming begins. HGTV responded to these claims, but they basically admitted it's true--sometimes participants are filmed viewing homes that they've already seen and decided they didn't want.
Granite is the Best
Granite is always depicted as being the must-have item for the kitchen. Granite countertops are not as important to homebuyers as HGTV would want you to believe. In fact, there are plenty of other materials that are appealing to buyers so don’t think you need granite to sell your home.
Other materials that are like granite are quartz and butcher block. Like Granite, they are easy to keep clean, sturdy and look incredible. Granite isn’t the holiest of holy options when it comes to kitchens, and the truth is that granite doesn’t fit with everyone’s idea of what a kitchen should look like.
Buying a New Home is the Best Choice
Old homes are always associated with having more problems and HGTV helps perpetuate that myth by telling people that new is better or that everything needs to be renovated to look like new. On HGTV, everything looks shiny and new and that isn’t exactly the reality that people should expect when shopping for a home.
So, people that perhaps watch too much television go into a home and expect light fixtures to be up to date, cabinets to be a trendy color and everything else in the modern style. But that’s not going to be the case every time. And all of those things you can update yourself to look however you want.
What You See is What You Get
When it comes to the price of a home, like buying a car, there are always hidden fees. HGTV makes it seem so easy to stick to your budget but it really isn’t when you have those costs to consider. Appraisal fees and closing costs can add up to 5% on top of the home’s value.
And when you consider how much a home can cost you, you are talking about thousands of dollars you might not have expected to spend. So, even if you manage to negotiate the price down a few thousand dollars, you’ll still be spending that money in fees and then some. And in the long-term, you have to think about property taxes too!
Renovations are Quick
Renovation jobs take way longer than HGTV implies. The timeline is muddled of course so that the show is fit nicely into a half-hour time frame. Their shows make it look like you can have a new kitchen in just a day but that is not the reality of it at all.
Those working on those shows are completing renovations in a number of days or even weeks until the job is complete, but they are working around the clock. Contractors in the real world don’t really have that time, so some renovations can take a matter of months. No matter what the TV tells you, renovations are not easy.
DIYer’s are Doing the Work Themselves
DIYer’s on HGTV shows like Trading Spaces are often depicted as being hands-on when it comes to renovations but again, this is another lie. Not only would a renovation be difficult to complete by yourself, but it also wouldn’t turn out well at all. Leave it to professionals to ensure it’s up to code.
HGTV doesn’t even actually let them work on the renovations on the show by themselves either. They might have families doing something but then they are several other professionals also helping to ensure the job is completed quickly and in the right way. Demolition, construction and electrical work are best completed by professionals.
You Will Find Everything You Need at One Store
This is definitely another thing HGTV tries to sell viewers. Typically, on one of their renovation shows, a couple will head to the store and come back with some materials they need to work with. That’s just all part of the show. You can’t just go to Home Depot and find everything you need to renovate.
Most often materials need to be ordered from suppliers that can take weeks to deliver what you need. With that said, you’ll want to order the materials well before you start any work on your renovation. If you don’t buy enough supplied before you need the, you are just delaying progress.
Sometimes the People Featured Aren't Even Real
Most people aren’t that surprised that the shows on HGTV are less-than-realistic. But I wager that most people would be absolutely shocked at just how fake some of these shows and episodes can really be. Sometimes the people on the shows aren’t even who you think they are!
At least one participant on an HGTV show has alleged that the network will sometimes swap out the real homebuyers for people who look a bit more “TV friendly.” One woman, whose home was featured on House Hunters International, claims that the show swapped out the real buyers (who were retirees) for a younger-looking couple.
The Hosts Aren't the Home Experts They Seem Like
If we were to believe what we see on HGTV, all the hosts of their various renovation shows are master experts of their crafts. They get in, work hard, and quickly have constructed the perfect home makeover. But things aren’t actually this cut and dry—it’s kind of questionable just how much work the hosts actually do.
Even the sacred Property Brothers themselves are not necessarily as hands-on as their show makes it seem. Jonathan Scott revealed in an interview that he and his brother like to deal with “homeowners who have identified a house that they already like.” But considering that he’s the real estate “expert” what exactly does he do if the participants already have a property lined up?
HGTV Dream Homes Are Actually Nightmares
Every year since 1997, HGTV has run its Dream Home Giveaway, where one lucky viewer is gifted a beautiful dream home. While it might seem like the chance of a lifetime at first glance, the HGTV Dream Homes usually end up being nightmares for the poor people saddled with them.
While the home may be given to the winner for free, they are still responsible for everything relating to the home, including property taxes. Because these homes are so huge and decked out, tax bills for the Dream Homes can run up into the millions. A majority of winners have quickly sold their dream homes in order to avoid getting tangled up with Uncle Sam.
"After" Shots Aren't Always as Complete as They Look
Sure, there might be things faked here and there on HGTV shows—it’s reality TV after all! But surely, the final results speak for themselves, don’t they? Those gorgeous “After” shots of renovated homes are 100% authentic, aren’t they? Unfortunately, you probably should prepare to be disappointed by HGTV once again!
Some former participants on HGTV programs have alleged that the “finished products” they show on TV are not quite as finished in real life. According to one woman whose home appeared on Designed to Sell, when the camera crew came through to do their “After” shots, they had to avoid large swathes of the house that were still technically under construction.
The Neighborhood Featured Isn't Always the Real Place a Home is Located
Some of HGTV’s tricks feel very deceptive. Things like swapping out the real homebuyers for actors or leaving unfinished work seems pretty underhanded and sketchy. But there are other ways the channel lies to us that are a bit funnier and more lighthearted. It’s more “TV magic” than “lies and deception.”
Cenate Pruitt appeared on the program Curb Appeal: The Block where his Atlanta home was featured and renovated. In an interview afterward, he spoke very highly of the crew and the work they did, but he did point out that many of the exterior shots in the episode weren’t filmed in his actual neighborhood to avoid getting any shots of the house next door, which Pruitt hilariously referred to as a “sub-crackhouse monstrosity.”
Buying or Selling a Home Isn't as Simple as They Make It Look
If we were to believe the shows on HGTV, buying or selling your home is an absolute breeze. With a telegenic real estate agent and 30 minutes to kill, you too can have the home of your dreams. Even if you’re not an expert in the world of real estate, you probably don’t need us to tell you that’s total bull!
In reality, the process of buying a home is going to take you a bit more than a 30-minute episode. Hunts can typically take weeks, if not months, to complete, and there is a ton of boring and soul-crushing paperwork and assessment going on behind the scenes. But all that doesn’t make for good TV, so we get the oversimplified, fun, and fast version we see on TV.
Work Done by HGTV Contractors Isn't Always High Quality
HGTV might be employing all sorts of TV trickery, but the actual work speaks for itself, right? Surely they’re not out there hiring incompetent people to do very public renovations! Once again, if you think that’s true, you’re sorely mistaken! Shoddy work isn’t a rarity on the channel.
Though the hosts might be experts in home renovation, it’s rare that they’re doing much of the work themselves. Instead, much of the work is hastily contracted out, and both of these can lead to trouble. Former participants on HGTV shows have claimed to be left with renovations that aren’t up to code and that looks worse than what was originally there.
Flipping Homes Requires More Math and Risk Than Presented
House flipping has been a hot business for HGTV throughout the years. And the way they make it look on TV, it almost seems too easy and good to be true. You find a shoddy house, make some improvements, sell it at a profit—lather, rinse, repeat! But like all things on HGTV, the reality isn’t quite that simple.
There are lots of hidden costs associated with house flipping that don’t actually make it to air. Obviously, supplies for renovations are going to cost you, but you also have to factor in hidden costs like permit expenses, taxes, and insurance. Real-life people have found success with flipping, but the bill starts to add up a lot faster than you realize!
You Can't Casually Renovate a House
HGTV makes home renovations seem like a light and breezy affair. A stranger with a camera crew swoops in, they take a few notes, everyone puts on hard hats, and you’ve got the home of your dreams in less than a day! It’s almost as if renovating is an impromptu weekend project!
However, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If you go into your own home renovation with the cavalier attitude of an HGTV host, you’re likely to spend way more than you expected, take more time than you expected, and hate the finished result more than you expected. Don’t skimp on the planning!
Leaving for Vacation During a Renovation is a Terrible Idea
It’s a common trope in home renovation shows for the participating family to be whisked off to Disney World or some other fabulous location while all the hard work is done at home. While that might seem like the way to do things, this is actually a terrible idea for real people to try.
First of all, leaving home while it's undergoing major renovations seems insane. What if something goes wrong? How are you going to address issues from the beach at Bora Bora? Secondly, it gives the impression that renovations aren’t a hassle. In the real world, you should expect major disruptions to your life when you’re renovating your home.
Not Every Home Redesign Has a Happy Ending
According to HGTV, everyone always loves their home redesigns and renovations. Always. But not every homeowner has that magical fairytale happy ending we see on TV. Sometimes, it’s not an ending at all, but rather, the beginning of a long and expensive nightmare for the poor homeowners saddled with debt and shoddy work.
There has been no shortage of HGTV participants who absolutely hated their new homes, but probably the most nightmarish ending has to be the poor family who ended up with hundreds of gallons of raw sewage in their home after a contractor forgot to reattach a crucial pipe.
Kitchen Remodels Aren't Always a Good Idea
If you’re looking to sell your home and want to increase its price, HGTV would have you believe that the best way to do that is with a kitchen renovation. They seem to think that everything can be solved by a new set of granite counters. However, a kitchen renovation isn’t necessarily financially smart in all instances.
The average kitchen renovation costs about $60,000, but the average price bump on a home with a new kitchen is only about $40,000. All those fancy upgrades could be costing you money in the long run! There are times when a kitchen renovation will help, but not as often as HGTV makes it seem like.
You Don't Become BFFs With the TV Hosts
One of the biggest allures of appearing on an HGTV show is getting to meet the hosts. You spend hours watching them on TV, and now, finally, you get to meet them in the flesh! However, don’t expect to be rubbing elbows with the celebrities of HGTV all that much during your episode because they’ll be MIA most of the time.
According to one couple who appeared on Fixer Upper, they only got the chance to meet Chip and Joanna Gaines a few short times during the process. They revealed that most of their conversations took place via text and that the stars only showed up for filming important scenes. That being said, the two said they were thrilled with their renovations!
Your Entire House Doesn't Always Get the Makeover Treatment
If you think that domestic goddess Joanna Gaines and husband Chip are going to give your home a head-to-toe makeover, think again! Between budgets and time constraints, most homes featured on Fixer Upper don’t get renovations in every room. It’s just another way that HGTV keeps the truth from us!
According to Joanna Gaines herself, how much of a home gets renovated has everything to do with the participant’s budget. If there’s money to do it all, they will, but other times, the couple will just focus on a few “priority rooms” that get all the attention on TV.
No One is Going to Ambush You at Home Depot to Re-Do Your Yard
The show Yard Crashers, which appears on HGTV’s spinoff channel, the DIY Network, has an addictive premise. Unsuspecting shoppers at Home Depot are ambushed by the host and given a full yard renovation. But if you’re hanging around Home Depot in the hopes of getting accosted by Matt Blashaw, you might be waiting a while.
While the show makes it seem like the people chosen for the show are randomly selected, that couldn’t be further from the truth. One insider revealed that she knew one show participant was chosen because she was friends with the producers. It may not be random, but it’s still great TV!