Wednesday, June 13, 2012

House Hunters (the rest of the story)

When I decided to share the info about our House Hunters experience with the lovely Julia at Hooked on Houses I had no idea there would be such an uproar.  I had a phone interview with someone at USA Today and she asked me why I'd kept it a secret this long...

A secret?  I've told anyone who was curious about the experience but honestly thought no one really cared that much.  It most certainly didn't seem like national news!  But I guess I was wrong!  Since I've seen 14 articles on the 'net now about it and about 80 tweets ( although I admit I don't really "get" twitter yet) I decided to address all the details here in one place.  I know its long but hopefully it answers all questions!


Can we watch the episode?
Yes.  I have it embedded RIGHT HERE on this blog.

When did it air?  I can't remember the exact date of the first airing.  It was about 6 months after the final taping.  There were two sessions of taping a few months apart.  Those were around December 2005 (right after we closed but before our stuff was moved in) and then the second time was around February 2006 (to show us all settled in to our house).  In the taping my girls were 3 and 1 and are now 9 and 7, so about 6 years ago is as accurate as I remember :).  Then it probably aired that summer if I remember right.  As faithful HGTV watchers know they have re-runs forever.  I have had friends tell me they've seen it at least 5 or 6 times.  I am not sure how often it re-runs or if it is still in the line-up.  We haven't had cable for several years now :).


Did the producers make up your storyline?
Yes, the producers did tell us how they wanted the story line to go.  When I applied for the show online the first thing they had us do was overnight them a video of us talking to the camera to see if we were "cute" enough and had fun talking to the camera.  (Back in VHS days....no quick loading to youtube or anything ;).  So that was the number one thing they needed to determine.  Once we made that "cut" then they started asking us questions and planning the story line.

They liked the fact that my husband was a Realtor and they could play up me being a "difficult client" as well as us desperately needing a bigger house.  We just wanted to make our smaller house a rental (which is what we did--we still own it), but they just didn't like that (true) story so told us not to mention it and they actually set up the scene of me picking up the toys in the living room and telling them that it was just too small.  I personally never felt cramped in that house!  After filming the show, we sold that "winning" house (about 6 months later) and later moved to Nebraska and my husband went to Law school.  We had two more children, became a family of 6 and lived in a tiny little townhome.  When our friends in our "student" neighborhood saw the re-run and me talking about how the house was too small for us with just two kids they thought that was a riot :).



Is it normal for House Hunters subjects to view friends' homes like you did?
Us viewing our friends' homes has been a big shocker for people.  It wasn't ever intended to be that way, nor is it the norm.  The producers were relying on us to set up the homes to tour.  We called all over town to Realtors that had houses listed and we couldn't get anyone to agree to it.  They were all skeptical of our intentions.  I think they were afraid we'd show their house in a bad light.  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 6 more months.  

The 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, one actually went on the market and sold before the show aired.  But no, it was not technically for sale at the time we toured it on camera.  And they were our good friends, so I'd been in the homes many times.

A lot of commenters have been so upset that it isn't real because we couldn't really critique our friends' homes.  That is true.  I didn't want them to be embarrassed.  But as hard as it was to convince anyone to let us tour their homes for the cameras I probably would have felt that way no matter what...if someone we didn't know had finally been talked into letting us film there.  I'm a positive person and can find the good in pretty much every house, so I felt a level of honesty as I toured them, if that makes sense.


Are you worried this will hurt the show or HGTV?
I'd like to make clear that I love HGTV!  I am obsessed with houses.  As a family we have moved more years than we've been married (which is 13).  We love to fix them up, and my husband is super handy.  Most of my inspiration for this passion came from watching lots of HGTV when my first two kids were babies.  I had no intention to share this info to discredit the show HouseHunters or HGTV in general.  I think their practices are the only efficient way to handle a show such as this.  Could they really follow a couple around who looks at a few houses every weekend and 6 months later decides on one?  What if they changed their mind and decided to rent a few more years?  Since my husband was a very active Realtor for 4 1/2 years there in Texas I know that this is common.  NO ONE looks at 3 houses and then picks one and "gets the call" that it is theirs!, without at least a little more drama.  I assume people know this. How could HGTV afford to keep flying the producer out, etc?  I think people just haven't realized this is purely entertainment and have a lot of expectations of "reality" for reality TV that would be nearly impossible or unaffordable to pull off.

**I can be contacted for further information by email at westernwarmth@gmail.com.**

33 comments:

  1. I'm so happy you blogged about this and told more of your story, Bobi! The whole thing has been surreal, to say the least. As soon as my blog stops crashing from all the traffic coming from sites like Time, Yahoo, MSNBC, and USA Today, I'll write a follow-up post and link to this one.

    Thanks again for your willingness to tell your story and for being such a good sport when you got a lot more attention than you bargained for! :)

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  2. Although I like to watch house hunters ,I always suspected it was staged because I couldn't believe anyone would limit thier choice to just 3 houses.It's still a fun show to watch.

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  3. I'm a faithful reader of Hooked on Houses so when this story hit The Huffington Post I figured something big was going on.

    I always wondered if any of the so-called prospective buyers (who have already selected a home) have buyer's remorse when they see the homes they could have selected.

    In your case, of course, you didn't have the dilemma although I guess you had to diss your friends' homes...but they were probably prepped for that reality.

    Anyway, your information is so fascinating. It was riveting to read.

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  4. Anonymous must not have read the whole story. There wasn't any dissing. Quote - "A lot of commenters have been so upset that it isn't real because we couldn't really critique our friends' homes. That is true. I didn't want them to be embarrassed. But as hard as it was to convince anyone to let us tour their homes for the cameras I probably would have felt that way no matter what...if someone we didn't know had finally been talked into letting us film there. I'm a positive person and can find the good in pretty much every house, so I felt a level of honesty as I toured them, if that makes sense."

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  5. Anonymous must not have read the whole story. There wasn't any dissing. Quote - "A lot of commenters have been so upset that it isn't real because we couldn't really critique our friends' homes. That is true. I didn't want them to be embarrassed. But as hard as it was to convince anyone to let us tour their homes for the cameras I probably would have felt that way no matter what...if someone we didn't know had finally been talked into letting us film there. I'm a positive person and can find the good in pretty much every house, so I felt a level of honesty as I toured them, if that makes sense."

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  6. I feel a little bit like I just found out there's no Santa Claus! Just kidding. I always figured the house was decided and they just did a re-enactment. I still love HGTV. My friend did the Rachael Ray show and they just shoot sequences and then use them on different shows. Kind of ruined it for her. Oh and the better looking you are, the better seats you get. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Robin
    Robin Flies South

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  7. WOW. I think it's great you shared this story.. now I don't feel bad for never being able to pick the one the family actually picks out.. LOL.

    Hope things calm down for you soon.

    Mikki

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  8. Holy cow. You have a hot topic! How are you feeling about? Is it weird and dramatic or are you loving the traffic? I am so nervous to actually get known in the blogging world even though I work every day towards that LOL. Seriously... how does all this "up roar" make you feel inside. Email me if you need to chat this out!

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  9. I love HGTV and I loved to get to know your story. It doesn't change a bit what I think about the shows. Anyone who had to look into houses either for rent or to buy know that is very unlikely to find the perfect one with just 3 viewings. The main thing is to see different houses in different places, at least for me.

    In the end, I still think cable companies should offer individual channels for clients, this way my package would be simple HGTV and DIY Network. Why would I pay for 200 channels when I only whatch 2 of them?

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  10. I am willing to bet anything that your contract had a confidentiality clause. That you have broken. Good thing your husband is an attorney as you will probably be needing one. Why on earth did you open your big mouth and blab? To get more free publicity? For an attorney, this is not good publicity - it says that he is willing to break contracts or he didn't even know what he signed.

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    1. What planet are you from? If you disagree with what Bobi did; there are certainly 1000 differate POLITE ways to tell her how you feel. The way I look at it as my Mom taught me 50years ago; "If you cannot say anything nice; then don't say anything at all"

      Even critisism can be polite.

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  11. “I am willing to bet anything that your contract had a confidentiality clause.” If there was a confidentiality agreement, what would it say? Wouldn’t by having one actually prove the point.

    “Why on earth did you open your mouth and blab?” That’s precisely the point, she didn’t think she was “opening her mouth and blabbing” because there are already numerous articles out there saying the same thing. She just thought that readers of “Hooked on Houses” might enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at one person’s experience.

    If anything this has made it so more people have tuned into the show. Which is great because Bobi meant no ill will toward the show.

    I would like to know what this did to attack you personally enough to go from sideline observer to making this post on this blog? I really do, I would like to know your reasons.

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  12. here from hooked on houses... this is very interesting. thanks for behind the scenes insight.

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  13. Bobi - I think you are one strong and courageous woman! I know you didn't intend for this to be anything more than a blog chat about the show that we all watch. So I feel sympathy for you for the nasty comments that have come your way.
    The whole House Hunters thing - in the larger scheme - is not a big deal at all. It will be laughable in a couple of months, and you will be able to sleep peacefully once again.
    But thank you for sharing your story - it was VERY entertaining!
    Best,
    -House Crazy Sarah

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  14. Thanks for telling your story. Behind the scenes is ALWAYS interesting.

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  15. Seriously people...do you actually think that reality shows are "real"! If you do you either haven't watched any or aren't paying attention.

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  16. Caught your appearances on "Inside Edition" and "GMA"--great job, Bobi! You're much braver than I am. I was way too scared to let the cameras in. :)

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  17. I'm glad you posted a follow up. I do still find it disconcerting that they would produce a show, get sponsors and couples to look at houses and then "dress it up" to make the viewers believe that they actually chose a house. I find it very deceptive and not very honest. At least put a disclaimer on the show to let the viewers know the show is manipulated for entertainment value. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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  18. This was SO wrong. I think about all the young couples across the country who watched shows like this and were influenced to go and buy a home only to go underwater by as much as 50%. The stress which probably broke up their marriages and familes. I'm glad things worked out for your family. But then again, you were not under any deception. It was the viewers being deceived.

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  19. I am looking for a house now and when I went to the website (just for the heck of it) to see if they are casting in my area, it says something along the lines of you need to be in the last stages/in the process, or even already have bought a home. That kinda says it all right there.
    This all just confirms my belief that HGTV owns stock in stainless steel and granite - apparently every house MUST have them to be worthy. We joke about that now as we are searching.

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  20. LOL at -- but sorta agreeing with, at the same time -- the notion that HGTV must own stock in granite and stainless steel. Add "open concept" and "hardwood floors" and crown molding" and I think you have the top 5 most overused terms on their shows.

    Fast-forward to House Hunters episodes of the (not too distant) future... "Well, first of course we'll have to put up some walls and rip out those granite countertops... they're soooo dated! And all that stainless steel... Hey, the 2010's just called... they want their appliances back!"

    I agree that the shows should offer some sort of disclaimer as to their "reality" component. They're entertaining, but no one likes to feel duped or strung along.

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  21. Behind the scenes stories are always really fun. People shouldn't be upset that reality shows are somewhat staged. I bet the same people who were disappointed to learn that HH is staged would also be shocked to learn that on Pawnbrokers, those people aren't just randomly strolling into the shop with unusual items.

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  22. I'm curious what those like yourself get for participating in the show? You are certainly getting alot of attention, possibly more than you desire, but at the same time after reading some of your comments, I suspect you personally, like and enjoy attention. Just a huntch

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  23. It is so laughable that some people get so upset that their "reality" tv has been exposed. Even more laughable-attacking you for telling your story. I wonder if those who railed on you had a moment of remorse when they clicked the publish button? Probably not as they can hide behind anonymity on their computer.

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  24. Oh my Bobi. You attention seeker, you! haha If only I had known all these years that I knew this HUGE secret!

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  25. Hi Bobi! Thanks for telling your story. I am perplexed that folk think that all the reality shows aren't "planned". LOL.

    PS..found you via Hooked on Houses.

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  26. I just wanted to pop by and say G'day from Australia! I actually heard all about this via twitter and wanted to read the whole story. I had always assumed shows like this had an element of "fakeness" about them but had no idea everything was so staged and unreal. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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  27. Here from Hooked on Houses...

    I am cracking up because your account is exactly what I would expect, but apparently there are a lot of people who have bought into the "reality" part of reality TV shows. I wonder how many realtors beat their heads against a brick wall every day dealing with buyers who expect to see three houses and make a choice and get an acceptance all in one day? Thanks for sharing your story and having a thick skin. It was entertaining and informative and the comments are hilarious! :-)

    Now to go peruse the rest of your blog...

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  28. Great to hear more about the process and very graceful of you to not be trying to dis the show. I'm not outraged. I just find it interesting. I'll be posting on it tomorrow and linking to this post from my blog. Thanks!

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  29. It doesnt surprise me what HGTV did..setting the stage, after all isnt that how all "reality" shows are? LOL

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  30. I love the story, and am not surprised by any of the details, nor will I stop watching the shows. I suspect the "anonymous" community does not really watch except to find fault with others and feel good about being self righteous. Like Bobi, if you can't find something good to say (read constructive) then keep your comments to yourself.

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  31. I guess I'm not surprised that HH was staged after all. I was always thinking they only went to a few houses how is this real? Lol..but I still love it. That's so cool that you were on it. Megan

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Thanks for your comments~!

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