The untold truth of Love It or List It

Scandal and reality television go hand in hand, and each show seems to come up with its own unique set of issues. HGTV's home design program, Love It or List It, has been accused of manipulating footage and redesigning endings. The show's reputation hinges on buying, selling, and remodeling on a budget, but is it all smoke and mirrors?

Stick to the formula

Reality show producers develop formulas to keep you watching. There's always a crazy alcoholic on the Bachelor/Bachelorette, a cheating villain in Survivor, and that one person you swear to God will never shed those extra pounds on The Biggest Loser. Love It or List It is no exception to the script.

The show's premise is this: unhappy homeowners work with both a designer and a realtor. The realtor shows them three houses for sale while the designer redecorates their home. At the end of the show, the homeowners decide if they'd like to stay or go.

Now, let's talk about how this script really unfolds. The realtor's first two houses are typically way out of the client's price range, nowhere near the desired neighborhood, or just plain wrong. The third choice is always the "perfect" house, magically discovered by the agent at the eleventh hour. As for the remodeling phase, contractors always stumble into some sort of major complication that pulls on the client's pursestrings. The snag often stems from a ridiculous request from the homeowners, who then get mad at the show's designer for not meeting their demands. When the dust settles, all the nonsense suddenly makes sense and everybody lives happily ever after, at least in TV land.

Cutting corners

According to real contractors (people who do this for a living; not for entertainment value), the crew on Love It or List It gives clients unrealistic expectations about the amount of time and money it will take to complete a job. Renovating an entire house in under two weeks with a $50,000 budget is not real life. Sorry, frugal homeowners, but the truth may look more like this:

In April 2016, a couple in Raleigh, N.C. filed a lawsuit against Big Coat TV, the Canadian-based production company that makes Love It or List It, claiming that shoddy renovations left their home in complete disrepair. According to the Miami Herald, homeowners Deena Murphy and Tim Sullivan said "the floor in the home was 'irreparably damaged,'" and "duct work left holes in the floor 'through which vermin could enter the house.'" The homeowners also alleged breaches of contract and illegal practices regarding the licensing of realtors and contractors, but they had us at vermin. Big Coat TV, you might want to check yourself before you wreck yourself another house.

Alternate endings

According to the popular home decor blog, Hooked on Houses, rumors have circulated that the ending of Love It or List It is contrived. Allegedly, producers film two endings—one where the homeowners love the renovations and one where they list their home—and choose the ending they like best for each segment. Ew! If the clients are essentially actors, are the houses just fancy sets? We're sorry we asked. Read on.

False advertising

According to show participants, and the neighbors of show participants, some of the houses shown by realtors weren't actually for sale, and some of the redesigned homes slated for the market were never listed. "There's one just down the street from me." said a reader of the Hooked on Houses blog. "This show chooses families who want a professional renovation done on their home. There is NOTHING real about the 'list it' part." This alleged falsehood hasn't been confirmed by HGTV, but we wouldn't put it past those ratings-hungry TV producers.

Unfinished business

The Hooked on Houses blog has also compiled complaints about the status of remodeled homes. Some say projects touted as "finished" at the end of the show aren't always picture perfect. "My friend's room was only half finished as they ran into more problems during the renos, so they took the shot to look as though the rooms are complete," said one reader. "Actually, they even did not finish sewing some of the cushions for the couches and just wrapped the fabric and placed it just so to look as though it was." In other words, the blemished rooms were allegedly made to look put together and attractive thanks to clever staging and talented videography, you know, like the way you look after filtering your Instagram selfies.