Yes, at least one episode was, according to a Huffington Post report. The online news site interviewed Bobi Jensen, who appeared on an episode. Jensen claims that she and her family had already closed on the new house prior to filming, and that the other homes they toured weren’t even for sale, but rather belonged to family friends.
Moreover, Jensen told Entertainment Weekly that the producers of “House Hunters” faked her family’s story. But she added that viewing friends’ homes isn’t the norm, and the couple was unable to find realtors willing to show them homes for the show.
The Huffington Post reached out to HGTV, and the network responded with this lengthy statement:
“We’ve learned that the pursuit of the perfect home involves big decisions that usually take place over a period of time –more time than we can capture in 30 minutes of television. However, with a series like “House Hunters,” HGTV viewers enjoy the vicarious and entertaining experience of choosing a home — from establishing a budget, to touring properties and weighing the pros and cons of each one. 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. Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties. Showcasing three homes makes it easier for our audience to “play along” and guess which one the family will select. It’s part of the joy of the “House Hunters”‘ viewing experience. Through the lens of television, we can offer a uniquely satisfying and fun viewing experience that fulfills a universal need to occasionally step into someone else’s shoes.”
The non-definitive statement, at least in part, seems to leave open the question of whether or not “House Hunters” is fake.