Premise: A couple tour three potential houses before choosing the one they want to buy. It's been airing on HGTV since 1999.
Most of the time, the homeowners have already bought or at least picked their house before they even consider being on the show. This makes a lot of sense, because it would take forever to film if the show had to deal with financing and eskrow and the ups and downs of buying a house. It's the same for House Hunters International, too.
A homeowner from the show revealed this back in 2012, causing quite a scandal, and HGTV released a statement to EW at the time:
"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."
In the years since, people who appeared on the show have been careful not to discuss this particular aspect, but it does sound like the show specifically wants people with sometimes insane opinions about paint colors and carpeting, and highly encourages any and all disagreements, especially if a couple already bought a different house anyway. Plus, a source tells E! News that at least one couple actually used their friend's house as the house they were supposedly buying, and had no plans to live in it at all. Everything is a lie.