|Narrated by|| Suzanne Whang (1999–2007)|
Colette Whitaker (2008–2009)
Andromeda Dunker (2009–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||199|
|No. of episodes||1,772+|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||October 7, 1999 –|
House Hunters is an American unscripted television series that airs on HGTV and is produced by Pie Town Productions. Each episode follows people making a decision about a new home purchase or rental.
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House Hunters follows individuals, couples, or families relocating to a new country and searching for a new home, with the assistance of a local real estate agent. In each episode, the buyers must decide among three potential houses or apartments to buy or rent, ultimately choosing one before the end of the episode. The show concludes by revisiting the buyers in their new home a few weeks or months later, where they describe the changes they've made and the effect the new home has on their life.
Although the TV format is that of a reality show, producers usually recruit buyers who are already in escrow with one of the houses that is featured in the episode. One buyer stated that "the show is not really a reality show. You have to already own the house that gets picked at the end of the show. But the other houses in the show are actually the other houses we considered buying."The two properties not purchased are usually chosen by producers, recycled from the buyers’ completed hunt or staged by obliging friends, network director Brian Balthazar acknowledging that production required some advance knowledge of the purchased home. Buyers are said to be typically paid $500 to film around 50 hours of footage, which is then edited down.
In response to questions about the show's authenticity, the show's publicist said:
We're making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions.
In early seasons of the series, prices and locations were never mentioned. The viewing audience is not privy to where each property is located along with the amount being asked and paid for each property.[ citation needed ]
The series was originally hosted on-screen and narrated by Suzanne Whang through 2007. She died in 2019 after a 13-year battle with breast cancer; she expressed pride at the diversity of house hunters featured on the show.In 2008, the show was narrated by Colette Whitaker. The current (2021) narrator, Andromeda Dunker, began voicing the show in 2009, but does not appear on screen.
A January 2016 Washington Post article said that the "milquetoast" and "proudly formulaic" series was "one of the most unlikely and unstoppable juggernauts on TV," consistently attracting 25 million viewers per month, nearly all through household television.Calling House Hunters "HGTV’s no-risk crown jewel", another Washington Post commentator noted that, paradoxically, the show was "low budget, incredibly formulaic and lacking any prestige or even a host".
HGTV is said to have referred to itself as "shelter TV", not only because it deals with homes but also because, according to a professor of cinematic studies, "it feels like you can protect yourself from other things going on in the world".In 2019 another Washington Post commentator reported that millennial and Generation Z viewers make up a significant portion of HGTV’s audience, and though its unscripted programming is "decidedly uncool", it is "endlessly appealing" and offers "both an escape from global chaos and a window into the seemingly distant fantasy of homeownership". Characterizing the show as "an on-screen utopia" that has included buyers of varied age, race, sexual orientation and location, it presents "people from all backgrounds seamlessly achieving the same domestic goal of purchasing a home".
The show's 26 first-year episodes (1999) grew to 447 new episodes in 2015, with the number of new episodes tripling between the 2005 peak of the real estate bubble and the 2009 end of the Great Recession.As of 2016, fifteen camera crews were recording new U.S. episodes at any given time, with another 25 teams of directors, camera chiefs, sound technicians and local fixers producing House Hunters International episodes.
The average episode is filmed in three days, and costs a small fraction of the US $2 to $4 million typically spent on an hour-long TV drama.The show’s ratings and "safe predictability" attract advertisers, especially those targeting homeowners. Marketing techniques have included in-episode product placement and sponsor-related quizzes.
The families are reported to make $500 for appearing on the original series, while making $1500 for House Hunters International, with the reported budget per episode surmising around $45,000-$50,000 each.
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