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House Hunters International is Fake. So What?

There was a big story recently in Hooked on Houses about House Hunters International being completely fake, so I thought I’d write a post about my experience filming my episode last year (check out myย behind-the-scenes photos and the actual episode).

House Hunters International is not entirely factual, that’s for sure.

Here are the things about my HHI International episode that weren’t true:

  • HHI claimed that I had lived in Taiwan for three months when I had actually lived there for six years.
  • HHI claimed that my friend Jeannie had been living in Taiwan for some time when she had actually only been visiting for two weeks.
  • HHI claimed that my friend Lief was a real estate agent, when in fact he was just a friend and photographer.
  • As I’d suspect is the case in most episodes, the house that I chose at the end was the house that I actually had already lived in for some time.

So, it’s pretty plain that my HHI episode was not entirely factual. However, I think that many of those alterations of reality were somewhat necessary to produce the final product.

To be honest, I don’t have any idea why they felt in necessary to say I was moving there for the first time. I think that they thought it would be more dramatic. All that resulted in was awkward and poorly faked goodbye scenes with my family, who were accustomed to having me gone.

As the shoot approached, I asked several of my friends if they would like to be my house hunting companion. Everyone was interested, but there was one problem: they all had to work. Jeannie was the only person who was able to film the show with me because she was visiting. I think it’s pretty understandable that HHI would want to make it look like she actually lived in Taiwan, so that she would appear to be a good person to help me look for a house. We had, after all, originally planned to have one of my Taiwan friends help me.

It is really hard to find an English-speaking real estate agent in Taiwan. In the weeks before the show I contacted one in Taipei, but she wasn’t able to fit the show into her schedule. I contacted a second in Tainan, but he didn’t feel that his English was good enough for television.ย  They comprised pretty much the entire English-speaking real estate agent population of Taiwan.ย  We obviously couldn’t have a Chinese-speaking agent, and the show needed an agent, so my friend Lief stepped in to fill the gap.

Beyond those things, the show was pretty much true.

Personally, I can see how circumstances made some of those changes necessary. If they hadn’t made altered reality to fit the HHI formula, my show would never have been allowed to air.

House Hunters International is fake. So what? It’s not journalism. It’s entertainment. Our director and camera man were awesome, we had a great time making the episode, I got some publicity, and a few hundred thousand americans were entertained for 26 minutes, so I never thought much of the inaccuracies.

After we we had finished shooting Jeannie (also a blogger) and I were joking around with the producer, Paul.

“Can I write on my blog that House Hunters International is completely fake?” I asked him.

“I prefer to call it ‘scripted reality’,” He replied.


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128 Responses to House Hunters International is Fake. So What?

  1. Will Peach June 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Interesting to read about you coming clean Gibson. I wonder what else you’ve lied to us about in the name of scripted-reality?


    In all honesty though anyone who reads too much into this clearly has too much time on their hands. I watched the episode, knew what was going on and was clearly entertained. You hit the nail on the head when you ask: “who cares?”

    • Steve January 17, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

      Personally I hate House hunters. I am so sick of fat assed useless woman making demands when they contribute absolutely nothing. Happy wife… happy life! get a freakin grip. pull your weight or hit the fucking curb bitch.

      • Paul Houle December 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

        Your words are wise my friend.

      • Monique Ross March 15, 2016 at 11:33 am #

        I agree with you I find women ( even if they work) very fussy and unappreciative. I am a woman myself. They forget that in 15 years someone will say about their now ne home ” it is so outdated. Monique

      • Erika May 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

        that’s odd… no one seem to be upset when the men complains and trust me they complains.. and i seen many skinny women make demand as much as fat women.. and i seen male dominate over their wife after they make their wife quick their job and move away from their loving family just to follow his dumb big adventures..

      • Dan June 23, 2016 at 10:49 am #

        I totally agree on that episode where this useless woman chose a luxurious villa that was above the budget of her husband and made him drive 75 min to work. In the end she said happy wife happy life and man that got under my skin!! I like the show, but sometimes feel like slapping the fussy ppl, mostly the wives on the show.

      • Steve is mean July 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

        Aren’t you a happy fella …. You are the definition of a good old internet troll ..

      • Virginia Lloyd April 22, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

        It drives me CRAZY to watch House Hunters International. Are women really really so incredibly selfish – I sure hope I would not be that selfish and callous. Their husbands are making the living, yet these b======es want only what will make them happy – never mind if the husband has to spend 2 hours or more a day commuting. It’s nice she can go into town with the kids but to hell with the husband who could go to if he wasn’t sitting in a bus. Watching one right now where she talking about she and the boys going to museums and other sights – when does the poor husband get to go – oh, sorry he’s commuting-too bad. WOMEN wake up!!!

      • Peaves July 14, 2019 at 5:20 pm #

        Wow, someone is alone.

    • Sue April 21, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      I never knew this about HHI but I agree with your friend Will, “Who cares?” I love this show. I saw your episode, it was good. What I love about HHI is that I get to see place I’ll never go to, in a way I would not otherwise see.

      • Sandra Maria Ina GRUBEY March 23, 2016 at 8:03 am #

        Well said Sue, those were my thoughts as well! I have only just discovered this program – and my husband and I are looking at taking a sabbatical in Taiwan …yay!

      • Rhaldiya E September 19, 2018 at 12:26 am #

        I am not financially able to travel so I enjoy HHI because I get to travel and see the world from the comfort of my couch.

    • Cate August 5, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

      Nice generalising there, Steve. I equally get sick of the men on these shows who are picky about the most ridiculous things – like the one guy who had to have somewhere to put his yellow school bus, everytime they found a house that ticked most of their boxes, he’d complain about lack of room for his bus. Or they’d be shown a house that didn’t have the features they needed, but he was happy ‘cos he had somewhere to park his bus. Or the guy that carried on about wanting a house with lawn, as he’d always dreamed about spending his spare time mowing a lawn … every house they saw either was no good simply because it didn’t have a lawn to mow, or perfect simply because it did. Or the guy that whined the entire time about too many differing floor finishes in the house, and in particular, carpet – they’d walk into a house, and within 5 seconds he’d be all like ‘oh no, this isn’t going to do, look at this … there’s hardwood, tiles and UGH carpet!’ and then he’d trash everything else about the house simply because he couldn’t think outside the box. Or the man that continually complained about paint colours, or another whose only concern was where he would put his sectional sofa and continually turned down houses that suited his family fine as it couldn’t accommodate his sectional. Or the guy that was happy to have his partner deal with a longer commute on the bus every day in order that he have the mountain view he’d been dreaming of. Or the guys that take the overseas job, as he’s always wanted to live overseas, so the family up-sticks and move to the other side of the world, and he keeps insisting on the cheapest property with no space because ‘I only need somewhere to eat a bowl of cereal and somewhere to sleep at night’.
      I hear annoying things from both genders – fact is, some people are just annoying, and some annoying things are just annoying to yourself. But still – ten points to you for trying to turn HHI into a gender issue. I suggest you spend less time watching a show that annoys you so much and do something that makes you a happier (& less bitter) person.

      • Brittany September 20, 2016 at 10:25 am #

        Love your comment Cate!!!! Steve has just had bad luck with love and probably life.

      • Marie February 27, 2018 at 11:45 am #

        You should not be critical of the couples on the program. Didn’t you read in the article that the program is fake? The producer or producers want couples to be fussy and to disagree, in order to have more drama. I only know this because a relative and his wife were on the program. Part of it was true, but much was fake. Personally, I think the producers should be honest, or they should let the audience know that not everything is factual. But people should take a lesson from this, that they should not believe everything they see or hear in the media.

      • Peaves July 14, 2019 at 5:21 pm #

        Ha! Steve is alone.

    • heidi October 28, 2016 at 12:56 am #

      Hi have been watching HHI in Australia last few months. Must say I will probably stop watching it now!! A bit pathetic it is so fake. Not entertaining. And a lot of the Americans are pretty pathetic and self-absorbed, where are the good ones.

      • Betty November 28, 2017 at 10:53 am #

        As an American, I am totally embarrassed by the attitudes of most of the Americans portrayed on HHI.

  2. Rhonda June 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Matt. Of course, I knew what was up when I saw the show. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Wandering Educators June 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    LOL! well, it was fun to watch. and glad you got your surf on!

    • Matt Gibson June 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

      Wow, they sure did repeat that surfboard quote a lot. You’d think it was the only thing I cared about ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Merriem Harris May 5, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

        lol! I thought that WAS the only thing you cared about! ๐Ÿ™‚ Crazy how they can totally shape your perception!

  4. Nailah June 15, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Well, I still count this show as more true than half the “scripted reality” shows out there with better guests. The show is entertaining and hell, I’d love to be on it one day. But I appreciate you sharing your experience and giving us the inside scoop. Great piece!

    • Matt Gibson June 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

      If you’d like to be on it, I’d be happy to direct you to the casting agents. They film like 50 episodes a year (or more). They’re always looking.

      And, on the upside, you don’t even have to be moving ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad December 16, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

        speaking of which, I would LOVE for you to help me Matt! I was actually searching for “how to audition for House Hunters International” and THIS blog post came up on the first page of Google ;D email me those contacts, please (you actually have me on Facebook)! haha

        ( PS: I’m thinking of moving to Indonesia next year to study their language, by the way. I somehow thought they would actually help me on my hunt? Maybe not?! :P)

        ((PSS: did you get paid for your appearance?! Was it a nice paycheck? :D))

        -Maria Alexandra

      • Bethany April 23, 2015 at 9:52 am #

        i am moving to Germany. Could you put me in contact with agents?

      • Dawn December 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

        I’d love for you to help me get in touch with them as well! I did email my story in (which is pretty sensational all on its own – reality TV fodder for sure). I’m moving to St Lucia to start a new life running a bed & breakfast there after almost being killed by my nephew & his friend in Jan of this year. Their intention was to kill me & then rape my corpse…seriously, wow, right. I’ve got a new chance at life & I’m taking it to go live my dream. Told you…reality TV written all over it!

        I’m heading down in Jan to narrow down properties & hopefully make an offer on ‘the one’. All the pieces are in line now (house here sold, pre-approval there in place, etc.). Do you think they’d want to jump in on the hunt or more likely once I’ve made the offer? Honestly, I’m open because I agree with the ‘who cares’ thought. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s TV for goodness sake & production allowances have to be made for all sorts of reasons. Either way, I’d love to share the beauty of St Lucia…plus, I think my story of survival & overcoming to live out my dream would be inspiring.

        • Matt December 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

          Hi Dawn, they’re definitely more interested when you’ve already chosen your place and moved in. I’m afraid I can’t help you get in touch, though. It’s been years since I was on the show and the person I worked with is no longer there.

      • Dawn December 14, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

        Not sure my other comment made it through because I don’t see it here but I forgot to ask how long it took for them to get back to you… I emailed my submission last week so not expecting immediately, but would be nice to know if it was 3 weeks vs. 3 months. Thanks!

      • linda sherman June 9, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

        I’m interested in finding someone that can help one move to a different country, like an advocate that can give you all the information necessary to pull off a move. I hear it is quite complicated.

        • Matt June 11, 2017 at 3:47 am #

          There are people who do that, depending on which country you’re planning to visit

      • Dee December 18, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

        Matt I have a question about this show. Why in hell do they keep choosing women who do nothing but wine b and all the women have the final say no matter what the husband’s want.

    • Brian July 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      Hi there! The “best” scripted reality show on television is the Nightly News on any network! Every spoken word is written by Odumbo’s staff!

      And I thought they only word anyone of the show knew to use was “space”! The writing is sooo bad! I don’t understand how any sane person would agree to be part of so many lies! Well, there are the politicians in DC.

  5. Leanne June 16, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Wouldn’t the fact that most of the people featured have already purchased their house mean that the show is entirely fake? I mean, it’s not like they are actually deciding on a house during the show… which is what the show is about, am I wrong?

    That being said, I’m totally going to keep watching it and trying to decide what house they went with and which are random houses they found to fill spots.

    • Matt Gibson June 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

      The degree of fakery varies I’m sure. I actually don’t think anyone is ever really looking for a house. It would cause too many logistical difficulties.

      Glad that this didn’t ruin the show for you. So many people I know sounded so disappointed!

      • Yaisuri November 29, 2014 at 11:56 am #

        I got engaged with the show because of the photography and house decision making. I could look at myself living in those pretty houses and countries. However, it is very disappointed about how much untrue is the show. =( It is not the same anymore !

  6. Traci June 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    I love this show, mainly because the voyeur in me likes to see how people live in other countries.

    I’ve always wondered if the “hunters” are compensated for their participation…?

    • Matt Gibson June 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

      Yup, they sure are. It’s a fair wage for violating the trust of the general public ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Emily March 26, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

        Hi Matt!

        Just found your blog. Very entertaining! I was wondering about your experience with HHI. I sent them an email earlier this week due to my husband’s job possibly relocating to Germany. I feel like we have as “sell-able” story as any. Two kids, one on the way heading overseas for a minimum of 15 months. We’d probably be looking to rent & would have a host of people who could “play” realtor from his company if necessary. Do you remember how long it took them to get back to you? Just curious how long I should hold my breath. And curious if the hoops you jumped through were worth the compensation? Any info you can provide would be appreciated! Thanks!!

        • Matt Gibson March 27, 2015 at 9:49 am #

          Hey Emily. I didn’t have to jump through many hoops at all with HHI because they contacted me.

          I’m pretty sure that HHI wants people who have already moved and found a house though. I don’t think they actually want to go house hunting (from what I’ve heard) but only want to pretend to go house hunting.

  7. Ava Apollo June 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    This is kind of like people being mad that Man vs. Wild isn’t entirely true. Like we all really thought he was risking his life while the cameraman ate granola bars? Doesn’t bother me. The reason I watch is to see what kind of places are available and at what price point in various countries. I don’t mind if people aren’t actually choosing between 3 exclusive properties that they plan to buy in 3 weeks time or something ridiculous like that.

    • Matt Gibson June 21, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      Ha ha ha. Please, keep commenting on my blog Ava. They’re the funniest things that I get to read in my boring blogging days.

    • Ken Sturmer November 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      “The reason I watch is to see what kind of places are available and at what price point in various countries.”
      Unfortunately that is one of the big problems about this show. They do not approach the subject of moving to a foreign country seriously! My example, recently there was a show about a couple moving to Berlin. They were shown three apartments, by a supposed agent. I say supposed because I have been looking at apartments in Berlin for a long time. My main complaint is, they never give you a personal viewing like this couple had. When the apartment is ready to rent, they call you along with everyone else who expressed interest and you all come in a group to see it. You then are given forms to fill out, about your employment status, credit etc. residency permit is checked. Then if you get the place, they let you know. The couple on the show chose between three places. That would never happen! Likewise the actual neigborhoods were never mentioned, and the rents were overly inflated. That one bedroom, even in one of the better Kiez, would rent hot for about 600 euro. max. Likewise they never mentioned “hot” or “cold” rent. In Germany homes are always quoted this way, because the “hot” rent is what it comes to after all the incidentals are included. It is not like here in America where everything is included.

      • linda June 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

        Thanks for the enlightenment. I do remember on one of the shows about an agent mentioning that you put your name on a list and there is a biding war type renting?? Sorry can’t remember the country now.

  8. Grant Gibson June 22, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    I guess it is OK if they just lie constantly. We don’t know what the truth is anymore, we just accept constant lies from everyone in the media.

    No, I do not think it is OK that it is a constant lie.

    • Matt Gibson June 22, 2012 at 1:27 am #

      You make a good point. It’s quite the comment on society when we naturally expect our media to lie to us.

  9. Raymond @ Man On The Lam June 24, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Next you’re going to tell me that the WWE is “scripted reality” too. I’m not sure what to believe any more. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Molly June 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Learning about the faking and scripted reality was almost cooler than the actual show! sorry! I so think everything I read and see is true for the most part, you’d think I’d be smarter by now…

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  11. Molly June 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    P.S. I thought Jeannie seemed very cool and could totally see her living in Taiwan, so that part was ok with me… in case you were wondering… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Matt Gibson June 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Ha ha ha. Yeah, Jeannie is pretty awesome. She’s actually living in China now. Actually, I wonder why she didn’t contact HHI to do her own episode ;D

  12. cb June 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    I think it’s very disappointing. No, it’s not on the level of issues involving war and peace, but these shows are not presented as scripted and totally fake. They are presented as real. Yet, they are a lie. When I watch Breaking Bad or Mad Men — those are created characters played by actors. The fact that shows like House Hunters and HHI will say a friend was a real estate agent and some one lived in Taiwan when they didn’t is a total fabrication. Then present it as such. In the credits. Put something like: “these situations are fictional,” or “some statements as presented my not be factual.” Why cant they, or don’t they, do that? Why can’t they be upfront about it?

    • Matt Gibson June 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      That’s a good question. I think that all ‘reality’ TV cannot present true reality. If a camera can’t follow a person into a concert, for example, the person might be asked not to go to the concert. Some things are bound to be changed, altered, or left out.

      The question is, where is the line where you say, “this no longer represents reality”? HHI definitely crossed that line, but what is acceptable and what is not?

  13. Sean Cowan July 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Dude, I didn’t know there was surfing in Tainan? Was that also fake? Thought it was only east coast and kenting?

    • Matt Gibson July 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Nope. It’s really there. I was surprised when I found out too.

  14. Cynth July 20, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Love Taiwan, enjoy your work, and I follow you on HP. Re: Jeannie not having her own “house hunting” episode when she moved to China…could it be that she’s waiting to live there awhile before “finding” the place of her dreams? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Calla July 20, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    Hi Matt,

    I just watched the show in Seattle half hour ago and I found your website from google. Thank you for sharing this interesting inside information. I am a fan of HHI and I never thought they would fake some details. However, as you said, it’s an entertaining show and I still enjoy it. Thank you for giving me the chance to see my hometown at HGTV and hope you really enjoyed your time in Taiwan ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Matt Gibson July 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      I’m glad that I didn’t spoil the show for you. Some people have been very (surprisingly) upset to hear about it! Glad you enjoyed the episode. I hope you’ll enjoy following my blog as well.


  16. Eric July 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Well, actually it is a big fake, they lie about prices and i dont understand why, saying that houses in Nicaragua (where i am) can be at more than $250000 (50000 is more realistic). I watched their program about a nort american couple who bought la casa del soul in san juan del sur, but according Tripadvisor this is an hotel, so what s the point of this program?

  17. Tofucius July 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    My wife and I loved the show. I have been watching for year and was surprise to see the episode that was film in my home town, Tainan. Tell them that if they ever need a fake Chinese/Taiwanese English speaking real-estate agent I can be available. Just paid for my plane ticket and I will be there ๏Š

  18. Sasha August 9, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    I don’t really care that it is fake but really why bother? I watch to see the different homes in different areas so why inject the storyline? Generally I think the people looking are annoying tools anyways ( I did not watch your episode though) it just seems like a lot of unnecessary work to fake it.

  19. Susan R. August 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Well, I do watch just to see the countryside, the insides of the houses in that area, or just to catch a glimpse of the cities and street markets. But I am disappointed in just how much of HHI is fake, or “scripted reality”. I guess there just aren’t any real good “true stories” out there to film.

    • Matt Gibson August 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Well, I think there are good stories. I think it’s just too hard to find enough of them that are happening at the right time. I think HHI films more than 50 episodes each year!

  20. Leon September 6, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    I enjoy the shows, although I knew things were rather scripted and not really on the “up and up”. However, I do enjoy seeing various parts of the world, and in most cases, will never see them myself. I will watch certain episodes because I like where they are located, like Italy. I would never live in the far east, having visited there, but it’s interesting to see what things cost. HH does the same thing in the US and Canada, but again it gives me a chance to see what the market is like in those places. Most tv shows are fake anyway, so why should we really expect anything different with these shows. One thing I do miss are the gardening shows… wish they would bring those back, especially the Yard Guy.

    • Matt Gibson September 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      I agree. I don’t really think you can trust TV. It’s too bad though! I’d like to be able to believe that some reality shows (like Man vs. Wild) actually happened the way they appear to.

  21. Virginia Kennedy September 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    The HHI show on a couple moving to Norway (wife American, Husband Norwegian) pretty much defines the reason the rest of the World shows contempt for America. The wife’s insistence on having a Garbage Disposal, a large roomy house and other American features went beyond the absolutely ridiculous. Norway does not use Garbage Disposals and the Real Estate Agent showed her several beautiful houses in the $500,000 range but alas no Garbage Disposal.. What did she make her Hubby do…build a House with a Garbage Disposal to the tune off $800,000. The inside of the House was no better than the Norwegian houses, in fact the Master bedroom had such a steep roof angle you could easily knock your head upon awakening. Cost for a Garbage Disposal $300,000. She was the most obnoxious American Woman I have ever seen on any show. I was embarrassed for her and I’m sure the Norwegian people had a good laugh at this show. WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO!!!

    • Matt Gibson September 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

      Wow, she sounds like a real gem. Well, I suppose not everyone is cut out for living abroad, eh?

  22. Shannon September 15, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    @ Virginia Kennedy I could not agree with more. I watched that same episode and my husband had to keep telling to stop yelling at the woman on the t.v. She was such an embarrassment!

  23. Renee October 3, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    We just filmed two episodes with HHI…and while it was “scripted reality” it was not nearly as made up as Matt’s experience. We are actually real estate agents in Mexico…and HHI actually insisted that the buyers had to have very recently purchased. Furthermore HHI insisted that the other two properties had to be ones the buyers had not seen before to keep the element of surprise as real as possible. So, our experience was quite different as I imagine each one is. Ours have not aired yet, but you can check them out on Oct 19 and Oct 24.

  24. Ben Gibson October 5, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    MUCH ADO ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Why would anyone care?

  25. roy October 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    hi matt,

    can you direct me to the show, we just bought a house, would love to be in for experience. looks fun in a fantasy sort of way ๐Ÿ˜‰


  26. M-C November 15, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    Did you have to move all your furniture out for the filming? And travel back and forth from the “home” you were “leaving”?
    It doesn’t bother me that it’s not real. I never believe anything I see on tv anyway.
    Thanks for sharing. I like going ‘behind the scenes’ ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Lief November 18, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Funny pic, we’re all admiring the tile floor. Was fun.

  28. Beth J January 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    So what? I’ll tell you what. My husband and I watched the show for YEARS for inspiration while we were dreaming of buying a home, and we’ve been considering moving out of state for a while in part because of some of the shows based in those areas. And then I find out that not only is the entire premise of the show a complete fake, but the PRICES are faked, and some of the homes aren’t even for sale. It gives a completely unrealistic view of what it’s like to look for a home, not to mention an unrealistic view of housing market for the area.

    I can’t even watch the show anymore, and it used to be one of my all-time favorites. I’m spoiled on “reality” shows now, especially on HGTV. Let’s just say that I tune in to my former favorite network a lot less often.

  29. Rose January 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    I don’t care if HHI (or any other realty show) is fake; I just like to travel via TV to other countries and see some of the sights and how other people live. On the other hand, I am sick of hearing people say “It’s not like we have in America” or “This isn’t like an American kitchen” or “This bedroom would be a closet back in the States”. Geez, you chose to move to a foreign country, so deal with it or go back home; of course it’s not going to be what you’re accustomed to. That’s my gripe about the show.

  30. krista manton February 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Thank you for this blog. I love the show because I am not going to get to go to all those countries and look for a home. I don’t care if its fake and most of the wives are annoying. It’s entertaining. My 4 year old likes to watch it too. When we went to some open houses around here everyone got a giggle out of him saying “this is a nice space” and “this room could work”

  31. Matt Gibson February 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Ha ha. That’s awesome. I’d love to see your four-year-old evaluating houses!

  32. Gin February 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Well, well, I heard a lot about fakeness of this kind of tv show, but actually, as a fan of this kind of show I don’t care! The idea to me is the oportunity to see places and houses, and who cares if the story that they tell us it is not entirely true, I wanna see the houses anyway!

    PD: I really enjoyed the fact that the real state guy was actually a friend!

  33. Matt Gibson February 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Ha ha, yeah. I think a lot of people feel the same way that you do Gin!

  34. Ralph March 12, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    Thanks for your interesting post, Matt! Might ask you about contacting the casting agents! ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Matt Gibson March 12, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Sure Ralph. Just drop me a line at xpatmatt (at) gmail (dot) com

  36. CharlieBeau 'Diary of a Muzungu' March 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Hey Matt, guess what? I’ve just had written confirmation House Hunters International are coming to make a programme about me here in UGANDA! I’m so excited ๐Ÿ™‚ Just off to look through your photos of the filming now …

  37. Matt Gibson March 17, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Congratulations Charlie! That’s awesome!

  38. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family March 19, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    I just watched your episode Matt. You definitely get the sense that it’s somewhat choreographed but it’s still really enjoyable to watch. I love renting apartments wherever I travel so it’s interesting to see the different level of homes available in different cities at different budgets around the globe.

  39. Kate @30Traveler March 19, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    I also just watched your episode. Some other bloggers who did a Berlin episode wrote a post basically saying the same as you – they already lived in the apt. I read Jeannie’s blog so it was nice to see her on camera!

  40. Matt Gibson March 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    I agree Bethany. I agree, regardless of whether it’s fake or not, it’s still very interesting!

  41. lainer March 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    just watching House Hunters Int’l in Panama after watching one in Queretaro Mexico. funny thing was, they used a shot of the couple in Mexico in the Panama show. I guess they needed a shot of some people in a latin environment…. sheesh that’s cheap.

  42. Matt Gibson March 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    It is a very cheap show Lainer. That’s part of why it’s so successful. Each episode is made with just four crew members + the cast, which is extremely cheap compared to other shows. They make hundreds each year!

  43. C Merry March 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    I don’t mind finding out its fake. What I liked about it was seeing where people lived in other parts of the world. Now I’d be mad if they filmed houses in NYC and then said it was Germany for ex LOL But I had begun to lose interest when all the eps showed people in places asking for granite counter tops and typical western features. If the houses are already purchased, then go crazy with the fake two! Show some really exotic local housing, something that’s not just another typical house but just on the other side of the planet. That would make it fun for me. It got a bit boring to see what I could see on any RE show. Not saying all are like that but it felt like most were getting that way. Glad you had fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Brenda berry November 28, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

      One goes to another country to experience what is typical there surely. I became extremely annoyed last night watching HH in BC and the show in Colorado. The stars were two gay men and their newborn twins, via another family member. Their focus was family Christmas, amid slim pickings of real estate, with an average budget. They were only able to focus on the family thing, and it, in my opinion, epitomized much that is wrong with US life at this point. This would be unpopular in Europe, the pushing of gay family! Pathetic.

  44. Alex April 16, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    So what’s the purpose of being on a fake show ? What kind of publicity does that get you ? ( I found this via a link about HHI being fake )

    I worked on some projects that where filmed National Geographic and The Discovery Channel over an extended period. They tried to get us to “fake it” and stage things for them, but since they where just guests (and not our reason for being) it finally came to a head. And we explained to them we had a real job to do, they could film but we would not be acting for them ..

  45. Matt Gibson April 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    I had a couple of reasons for being on the show. First, as a travel blogger, the exposure was fantastic. They also paid well for my time.

  46. Nell September 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Hello. Thanks for sharing. My husband and I are moving to Italy for a job later this month. We will be there at least three years. We’d love to share our house hunting experience with HHI. So…if you can connect us, that would be great. Thanks

  47. Laird October 29, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    Hi Matt,

    I have two questions about the choice of houses, but first a comment.

    An obviously unreal part of the show is how the couples are shown to make the choice. In every episode I’ve seen, the couple easily agree on which house to eliminate and then, with anxious expectation reveal they both want the same house. Doesn’t pass the smell test.

    My question is how are the three houses selected? You clarify that the chosen one must be under contract, but the other two? I find the choices to be wildly different and not often related to the couple’s budget or other criteria. Just saw and an episode based in Pattaya, Thailand. Husband wanted a home close to work. The three homes were 20-25, 40-45, and 1:15 minutes from work. No other option within 30 minutes? Any clue how the homes are selected?

  48. Gina-Marie Cheeseman November 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I don’t watch HHI for its accuracy. I think of it as a travel show. Americans who want to watch a real reality show, should tune into C-Span.

  49. lisa | renovating italy December 3, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Hey Mat, we just did an episode and it was a blast. The prices used on the houses we looked at were all correct and the other two houses were for sale. Actually if I had the money I would have bought one of the houses we were shown it was incredible and just a steal.

    I feel like I have entered some kind of secret society….all I can say is we had a great time, all the words were our own, we have two kids and our little boy has mild autism so no way could anybody tell them what to say lol.

    We loved it, the crew were great and it was an amazing insight into the way these shows are filmed and gives me a huge appreciation for all involved in the film industry. I was surprised how tiring it was but wouldn’t swap a moment and I see it as entertainment and a great thing for our kids to watch in the future x
    ciao ciao lisa

  50. Jeff December 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    It’s fascinating to get this behind the scenes insight into HHI. I LOVE that show. It’s one of my go to shows when I just need to relax and watch multiple episodes of something.

  51. Kristin June 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    I watch (or fast forward through) HHI episodes because I love the snapshot they give of expat life– this is the most interesting part of the show. They should drop the pretense of house hunting and instead find an expat, show us his/her house/how much they pay/what their daily life looks like. That would be a MUCH more interesting show than hearing annoying couples pretend bicker over fixtures.

  52. Ryan James August 28, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    This is funny! We had tenants come from Chicago to move into one of our apartments in Budapest. The wife had contacted HHI and they chose them to do a segment on Budapest. Of course, they were already living in our apartment, but in the end after looking at 3 apartments, they “chose” ours as the best offering.

    The wife later told me that she had to apologize for her husband’s negative remark. She said the crew told them they had to say something negative. That comment was edited in 2-3 times.

  53. Gina Humber January 31, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    As a NYC teacher I would love to do an a show, please inform me of the casting agent, I want to show my students the world is bigger than just NYC and maybe this is a way, they can feel connected and the possibility of opening their eyes to broader world.

    Gina Humber

  54. Tim Crzslack May 3, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    I love House Hunters and HH Int., even though I know it’s fake. I’m not familiar with every single episode because I just watch whatever is available online for free. But yours seemed pretty unique because of the bottom-feeder element, and in a place which is cheap also. It’s good to know there are places like that left, so I really liked your episode.

    I watched the episode before I read your article about it, and I was thinking, was that even your real family — ha ha. At least that part was real, even if it was staged. I think the family and friends must have gotten a huge charge out of it anyway.

    I was curious about the level of scripting, that is, how much to they allow you to jabber on, or do they actually tell you to say things like,” I like this tile.” Your friend who pretended he was a realtor did very well. I would guess that the realtor’s comments are mostly scripted. I had no idea they’d use a stand-in for a realtor in such a situation. In most cities/countries, appearing on this show would be incredible publicity for a realtor, as well as a golden opportunity to be on TV in a very popular show.

    When I first discovered House Hunters, I wondered immediately how it was done, realizing the scheduling had to be tight for shooting. And for people who are buying, they often look at dozens of properties before they buy. So it just makes sense they use only people who have already bought.

    I saw one regular HH, where a couple buys a house with an 6-lane freeway at the end of their backyard. That is insane to do, if you are at all concerned with your health, since it would mean breathing bits of rubber from tires and exhaust fumes, and then there’s the noise.

    Part of the fun in watching the show for me, aside from just seeing different countries and what accommodations look like, is in guessing which one they pick, or rather, which one is their real house. I wonder sometimes, if in doing the show, the participants sometimes see a place they prefer to the one they live in. However, I’ve read where sometimes the wildcard two are not necessarily for sale or rent. Sometimes it’s a participant’s friend or neighbor’s place. I guess that would take the sting out of that.

    An annoying thing from an ecological perspective is when people see a house with countertops in excellent condition, but mention they need to rip them out to put in granite right away. So, congratulations to you that the words “granite” or “man cave” were not used.

    So, did you have to fake not knowing Chinese too, or don’t you know it yet? I can probably figure this out from reading your blog.

  55. LF Bullard May 13, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

    I’ve watched HHI for years, especially the European episodes, because I love seeing the countries I visited during the years I lived there plus a few I did not. We looked at probably 20 apartments before we found our only criteria: the perfect view of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from a huge covered balcony.

    That was years ago but even then we had the embarrassing Americans who complained about not finding their “American” standards or “dated decor” and equipment. “Ugly Americans”. On the show it’s easy: mute the TV and watch the pictures.

    For viewers who think the show is full of lies, etc. I have no answer. Reality is what we watch TV to escape! They have no sense of theater or editing, I guess. Just can’t cure stupid.

  56. Orlonda Rosenquist June 8, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    I love to watch hhi but I tend to get angry at the Americans and Canadians that whine and cry about everything. No wonder other countries hate Americans, I do too when I watch the show. Spoiled people and it so apparent on this program. I wonder if it’s edited to make it more so . And it seems parents of children are afraid of eveything, get a handle on your children and you won’t have to worry about them jumping from second stories or falling down stairs. Danger everywhere, according to these parents/home buyers. Just needed to get that out.Again I enjoy the show, even yelling at the home buyers when they find fault with the little things.

    • swiss August 1, 2015 at 12:55 am #

      Orlonda Rosenquist — I was just Googling “Househunters International fear of stairs” — what is WITH these people? I am so embarrassed watching this show — people are so whiny — good lawd!

  57. TheRealJobu October 25, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Where’s Matt?

    Did you up and vanish like a fart in the wind? You just up and abandoned the blog? What-The-Fuck?

    • Matt November 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      Nope. Didn’t vanish. I’m still around. I’m actually living by the beach in Thailand at the moment. Still doing writing and photography, but have also started an online marketing company since the episode was aired, so I don’t work on the blog as much as I used to.

  58. Nikolay March 9, 2016 at 1:24 am #

    So at the end, did you get paid for your participation in the show?

    • Matt March 9, 2016 at 1:56 am #

      Yep, sure did.

  59. claudine colbert July 5, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

    This show is absolutely ridiculous nor it is entertaining nor it is informative.
    I just came back from Playa del Carmen (Mexico) and just watched an episode of people hunting for a house there. You actually never feel you are in Mexico, never see any mexicans, never even know when the properties are actually located.
    The episode I watched last week about a couple buying in France was the same. Totally fake and staged. A total waste of time and brain cells. Don’t bother!

  60. Carlos July 13, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    All I can say, from watching numerous episodes of the show…


  61. beeeerpig December 2, 2016 at 5:18 am #

    hmmm… my partner and i have been watching this for a few weeks and as time’s gone by we’ve started to watch it for it’s comedic content.

    we live in Sydney, in the ‘inner west’ which is close to the central business district (six kilometres) where my partner works. i work from home but have to travel regularly for my job, so i’m close to the airport (11 km) and we enjoy everything that city life offers, living in a beautiful, modern, international city. at least the part we live in is beautiful… like all huge metropolitan cities that spread out for miles and miles and mile and miles and miles, there are places that aren’t so beautiful. this is why living where we do costs what it costs and we pay what we have to pay to live here.

    watching this program being, of course, an american production, with american people being followed in their pursuits to find a place to live outside the usa, is fascinating. i mentioned that we watch it for it’s ‘comedic’ value, and the reason we do that is because these people choose to go live in, oh, western european countries like italy or france, and have a ‘budget’ to work with to buy places they want which is usually three big bedrooms (for all those visitors- mm hmm…), a ‘big’ kitchen, a large, open plan living area, lots of windows, a terrace, a ‘view’: and all for, ohhh… $200K.

    bwhahahahahaha!!!! $200K? $ 200 K??????? for a place like that in the towns they’re looking at IN WESTERN EUROPE? unless they live in america in some ‘burb 50 miles from town or a small country town, that sort of money isn’t going to get them anything near what they have in mind. we wish five times that amount would get us something like that in sydney (the MEDIAN house price in sydney is over $1,000,000) so when we hear them complain about the size of some of the places they’re being shown in their price range we just fall about laughing, shouting at the tv asking them what the FUCK do they think houses like what they expect to get, cost, especially in the places they’re looking?

    sometimes they’re looking for places to rent and their budget is $900 / month. we pay $1200 A WEEK, and we’re not living in anything extraordinary, or on sydney harbour.

    of course it’s all relative, but what we wonder is this: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? they tell these estate agents what they want in a place and then what they’re willing to pay to buy or rent, and then expect these people to work wonders and do it with a straight face (we know the agents think these people are totally insane (and pretty stupid) just as much as we do). AND THEN THEY GET PISSY BECAUSE THE AGENT SHOWS THEM SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T MEET THEIR ‘NEEDS’!

    we’ve always thought this program is scripted (just listen to how the buyers / renters speak- who talks like that…?) and the format (only three places? one low, one on budget and one over-budget…?) which makes it easy for TV.

    in any event, the whole thing is good for a laugh and we enjoy it as comedy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. Bob January 15, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    The fact that the show is partially fake doesn’t bother me. I mean you would have to be really stupid if you believe they could wait for everybody’s deal to go through and produce a show. What really drives me crazy and to me what makes the show unwatchable is when they do things like where one spouse wants to be in the city center (which is a term they use at nauseum) while the other wants to be in the suburbs. Then they take this idiotic concept and use it in every show like the viewing public is to stupid to notice.

  63. mkenney February 21, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

    I do have one question. Why are these homes always listed by monthly cost like rent? can you not buy homes overseas?

    • Matt February 21, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

      A lot of countries won’t allow foreigners to buy property. In those that do allow it, it’s usually next to impossible to get a loan without a local spouse, so you need the money up front. So, rent is pretty common.

    • DrGaia February 23, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

      Unless you don’t need a loan and you have the money available, you can buy a home nearly everywhere. In Germany f.e. it’s more common to rent than to buy. The financing isn’t that easy, most of the banks approve only a credit if you have 30% equity capital and never had any debts or unpaid invoices. If you don’t have a permit of residence it’s nearly impossible to get a bank loan. Buying a house in Germany is a lifetime decision because most of the people intend to live there until they die, that’s also why there aren’t that many houses available. A few years ago the interests where around 10% so it wasn’t really attractive to buy a home, now they are around 1% so more and more people are buying real estate. But still, being indebted in Germany is the WORST thing ever and everybody is in fear of credits ๐Ÿ˜€
      Most people are buying a house as a “pension plan”, when they retire they don’t have any expenses on rent or mortgage.

      I had no doubt that the show is fake, but it’s still entertaining. It’s just interesting to see the how people live in other places around the world and how properties low like there. Shows like this doesn’t require to be realistic for me and I’m aware that I’m not watching a National Geographic documentary

      The episodes from Germany where pretty accurate with their estimates for rent and features except that most rentals here are totally unfurnished (no kitchen, light fixtures, closets) and the showings are mostly “open houses”. When we were at the showing of the apartment we now live in, there were around 100 -150 people and we were really lucky our landlord picked us at the end.

  64. Linda June 12, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

    All the house hunting shows are that way. We had a friend purchase a home on the North Carolina coast. She already purchased the home before filming began.

    As a note, I’m growing tired of watching. I’m all for the LGBT community! Two of my best friends are gay. But every episode of house hunter international I watched tonight were gay men couples. Why when they are a smaller percentage of the overall house hunters?

  65. Wnaley November 25, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

    This show is so much fucking bullshit the contractors are so far out of line on prices I can’t believe it if these people fall for this crap they’re stupid

  66. Isadora Drum January 25, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

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  67. Donn February 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm #

    I think it’s so funny that folks comment on how bad these shows are, yet they’re obviously watching them.

    Enjoyed your comments. Refreshing. Does ANYONE think ANY of the “reality” shows aren’t fake. If not, I have some land I’d like to sell them.

    Thanks for your article.

  68. Mike January 20, 2020 at 5:29 pm #

    I never comment but must this time.

    I used to look forward to viewing House Hunters International, especially with European Locations.

    Now I haven’t the energy to watch the now countless clueless people. The audacity to tell a rental agent that their budget is between $800.00 to $1,700.00 dollars to rent in Europe makes me cringe.

    They produce a wish list that would make Santa blush or vomit. The taste to live at a Versailles address and the income that could not get them into a Bronx address.

    Is there no vetting of the show candidates or is the bar so low..?

    A March 11 2017 episode had a person wanting to move to the Netherlands.

    An expensive place to live in the city but the person had a respectable income to possibly achieve such a relocation.

    But absolutely everything was picked apart to the extreme. And I mean extreme…..it made me want to pay for his flight back to America.

    Absolutely and completely obtuse from A-Z.

    So I apologize to all the readers for venting but you need to see the episode to believe it.

    A glass of Chardonnay will sooth the pain if you watch it..


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