10 things I learned while being filmed for HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’

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Kim Christensen, a UtahValley360.com and Utah Valley Magazine writer, interviews McKenzie Deakins, a Utah Valley photography, at Bennett Communications for "House Hunters." Ironically, the film crew had to create an interview space in our advertising room, which meant taking furniture from different parts of the office.

Kim Christenson, a UtahValley360.com and Utah Valley Magazine writer, interviews McKenzie Deakins, a Utah Valley photographer, at Bennett Communications while filming an episode of “House Hunters.” Ironically, the film crew had to create an interview space in our advertising room, which meant taking furniture from different parts of the office.

“House Hunters” is the top show on HGTV. My husband and I discovered it last year when we were looking to buy our first home and thought it was fun to watch other people going through the same process.

We decided on a whim to apply for the show, and we were excited and surprised when the producer said they wanted to tell our story. Filming our episode and sharing the ups and downs of buying our first home in Utah Valley was a positive, exciting experience that we’ll always be glad we were a part of. Our episode airs Wednesday, April 1 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., depending on your provider. Here are a few fun facts we learned about the process of being on an episode of “House Hunters” as we filmed:

1. It’s not easy to get on the show.

“House Hunters” gets about 100-200 applications a week depending on the time of year. “House Hunters” director Susan Hull said they are always looking for people who are quirky or who want unique things in their house. They look for drama and conflict and ultimately want people the viewers will fall in love with. We applied for “House Hunters” by first filling out an online application. We got an email from the casting director expressing interest in our story, which was followed up with some more things to fill out and then a phone interview with the producer. After the phone interview and more paperwork, we submitted a 10-minute audition video. After a few weeks of waiting, “House Hunters” told us we were chosen to be on the show.

2. “House Hunters” works with local professionals.

When we arrived at our first shooting location, we met our director, Susan Hull, who flew in from Los Angeles; the cameraman, from Colorado; and our “sound guy,” Gerald Hartley, from Pleasant Grove, who has met his share of stars and has worked on some of Utah’s biggest projects. We thought it was cool that “House Hunters” combined with local professionals to create the show.

3. There are eight different “House Hunters” directors.

Our director has been at “House Hunters” longer than any of the others  — 10 years. “House Hunters” has been airing for 15. She says every director adds a little bit of his or her own spin to the show. We felt lucky to have someone so seasoned directing us through our first reality TV experience.

4. It takes a lot of filming hours for just minutes of production.

We spent about six hours at each of the three houses where we filmed. We were also filmed doing activities our family enjoys (like eating dinner at Malawi’s, playing with our kids at Provo Beach, running on the Provo Canyon trail) and they filmed me working (at Bennett Communications, of course, and teaching Yoga at BYU). We filmed for more than 30 hours total, and the episode is only 23 minutes long.

This was the final scene we filmed. This is the scene at the end of our episode where House Hunters shows us enjoying our new home with our family and friends.

“This was the final scene we filmed,” Christenson said. “This is the scene at the end of our episode where ‘House Hunters’ shows us enjoying our new home with our family and friends.”

5. “House Hunters” releases three new episodes every week.

They just hit their 10,000th episode mark. That means they’re busy filming all around the country all year round.

6. Each episode costs about $45$50,000.

And because you’re probably wondering, they paid our family $500 to participate. The realtors work on a volunteer basis.

7. “House Hunters” doesn’t let you go hungry.

Thank goodness, because I can certainly get hangry, and that doesn’t go over too well on TV. The director treated us to lunch each of the five days we were on set, took my family to dinner one night and provided us with on-set snacks every day. We missed that pampered treatment after it was all over.

8. “House Hunters” has filmed in every state.

There hasn’t been a U.S. state where the crew hasn’t filmed an episode (or 2 or 200). “House Hunters International” is a separate production company.

9. Very few episodes never make it to the air.

Our director said she only knows of about 10 episodes that never aired, and that was due to things like death, divorce and Hurricane Katrina.

10. It’s scary to think of millions of people watching you on national television.

After all those hours of filming, there were certainly awkward moments and bloopers. We’re dying to see what ended up in the episode and I can’t help wondering if there was something in my teeth, a booger on my face or if I said something idiotic that the world will hear me say. After waiting for six months (it generally takes 4-6 months after filming for an episode to air), we are excited and a little nervous to see how it all turned out.

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Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at talkingwordy.com.

14 Comments

  1. Kim Reply

    What happens on House Hunters if you decide that you don’t want any of the three homes that are shown to you?

  2. Linda Reply

    Kim – It’s highly unlikely. Usually by the time the production team arrives, the home buyers are pretty far along in the process of a home search, and have probably already decided to buy one of the three. In fact, they may have even already chosen it and started moving in by the time filming begins. Most of the search is for “show” – and has little to do with reality. Surprise, surprise.

  3. Steve Reply

    Did they actually come back for the follow up interview at the end, or did they just pretend that time had gone by and they actually filmed everything all at once?

  4. Sara Reply

    Hi! How far in advance do they give you before filming? Do they prefer you already have a house in mind or are already closing?

  5. Louella Bean Reply

    You gave the home owners only $500 I would think you would give them more money then that. If I apply today for a home in China and you accepted me how long would it take for me to get a home or an apartment?

  6. Ryan Kornblatt Reply

    Wow $250 per person and $0 for the realtor is a real slap in the face from HG TV’s highest grossing show. Seriously that’s realllllly cheap of them….. so the realtor gets paid in sandwiches for 30 hours of taping? That sounds like slave labor and kind of dampens my thoughts of the show. Glad it was fun though

    1. Marie Reply

      Yup! We got picked and are deciding if it’s really worth it to do it for $500 divided by 3 (we can’t not give our realtor anything). We have to decide soon. Wondering if they’ll negotiate? What do you guys think we should do?

      1. Janice Reply

        Do they also provide someone to help you remodel your home like other shows (property brothers)? That would be worth it.

  7. Sunny Reply

    @ Marie, you’re agent is making the 6% they already get from selling you a home in the first place! Not to mention the exposure they get from being on the show that will ultimately result in generating future business for them.
    If you feel you need to be compensated for being on a reality show, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. You’re not a paid actress. You should be happy they are paying you anything. It costs them so much money to make the show, and if they invited you to be on it, take it as an adventure for you and your family. Trust me, if you don’t feel it’s worth it, there are hundreds of other families that will do it for free!
    The way the show works is you already purchased your home, and the rest is pretend. You get shown 3 other houses and play along like you’re considering them all, including the home you already purchased and are already living in.
    We were approached by HGTV to be on the show. We didn’t apply. And we were flattered they asked us and are looking at it as a compliment and an exciting experience for our whole family. Taking 3 days out of our life to play pretend for a reality show is not a job or career. Unless it’s your own show!

  8. Anonymous Reply

    If it was not for clients looking to buy a home, House Hunters would not exist. Besides, thise are the main characters – come in – pay them better!

  9. Karen Johnsen Reply

    I have to laugh – ‘ultimately the producers want you to fall in love with the couple’ . . . . . I would say 95% of the time, I can’t STAND the people that are on this show. It’s the same old garbage – they HAVE to have two sinks in the bathroom (I’ve been with my husband for 50 years – haven’t needed a second sink yet), stainless steel – apparently everywhere – and GRANITE kitchen counters. ALL boring to me – who wants what everybody else wants? I have to quit watching this show – I end up yelling at the TV too much.

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