Reasons Why Love It Or List It Is Totally Fake

If you're a casual fan of HGTV's Love It or List It (2008-), you may not particularly care one way or another if the show's big central drama—whether homeowners keep or ditch their renovated homes—is actually legit. (Let's be real, most of us watch these shows just to see the fabulous home makeovers.) But if you're an avid member of either team Hilary (Farr) or team David (Visentin), and you wait with bated breath at the end of each episode to see what clients plan to do with their newly-renovated digs, you might want to brace yourself for some troubling news: Love It or List It is some seriously unreal reality television. From scripted conflicts to fake endings to lawsuit-worthy renovation disasters, this supposedly-spontaneous design drama is actually a web of lies. Here's why:

Some folks have no intention whatsoever of listing it

The entire premise of Love It or List It revolves around homeowners who are genuinely on the fence about whether to renovate their existing property or just move into a new one—a conflict that gets resolved only in the final scene and after lots and lots of debate. ("This is a tough decision," someone always says; the other nods and replies, "We're going to really have to talk about this.") But according to a Reddit thread from people who've been on the show, or know someone who has, a lot of the families on Love It or List It have absolutely no intention of moving. They're just in it for the discounted renovation and their 15 minutes of nationally-televised fame, of course.

House-hunting options aren't always legit

Respected home design blog Hooked On Houses snagged an interview with Marci, who appeared on Season 11 of Love It or List It in an episode titled "Charming Cat-astrophe." Between Marci's intel and some tips from her neighbors, it's clear that producers are fudging the truth when it comes to the house-hunting part of the show. What viewers see is a series of home visits, usually beginning with a house that's totally off the mark and ending with one that's basically the couple's dream home. But in reality, the houses participants walk through are frequently not for sale, even in the event that the featured couple did want to buy one. In Marci's case, a neighbor's house was reportedly "selected" to play the role of one of the homes shown by realtor Visentin. Another couple, who actually filed a lawsuit against the show for a variety of breaches of contract, complained that none of the houses they saw were actually on the market and able to be brokered by the real estate agent showing the property, reported The Charlotte Observer.

The intra-couple conflicts? Made for TV

If you've ever watched Love It or List It, you might find yourself wondering how the show's featured couples managed to buy their initial home in the first place, much less live in it for a number of years without murdering each other. It's de rigueur on the series for couples to disagree about everything from whether they should move to what kind of renovation they want—and the conflicts can get ugly. But as it turns out, we don't have to worry. The arguments between the homeowners are just as staged as their living rooms at the end of each episode. According to a

As it turns out, we don't have to worry. The arguments between the homeowners are just as staged as their living rooms at the end of each episode. According to a Redditor whose aunt and uncle were on the show, sometimes producers will even demand additional bickering to make up for a disappointingly undramatic renovation process: "To compensate for the lack of structural problems, the network wanted my aunt and uncle to fight with each other over decisions," he wrote. (If you're wondering, that couple reportedly refused.)

The renovation fund is fishy

We already mentioned the lawsuit filed in April 2016 by Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan, a couple who were (to put it mildly) not thrilled with their experience on the show and the actions of Big Coat TV, the Canadian-based company that produces the show. The official complaint, if accurate, pretty much blew the lid off the "reality" aspect of Love It or List It, including a revelation about just how the homeowners' money gets managed. According to the suit, as reported in The News & Observer, Murphy and Sullivan were asked to deposit their $140,000 renovation budget into a fund with the production company, which was then supposed to disburse it only to the agreed upon contractor and subcontractors working on their house, but only about half that cash allegedly made it into the hands of the folks in charge of the renovation. "Not only does the suit allege that Big Coat acted as a general contractor, it questions why payments agreed to under the terms of the contract were not distributed," The News & Observer reported.

Hilary and David don't become your BFFs

Murphy and Sullivan's lawsuit against Big Coat TV also included some disappointing insights into just how uninvolved the show's principals, designer Farr and real estate agent Visentin, actually are in the process of making over the series' featured homes. According to the suit (via The News & Observer), the faces of Love It or List It are just "actors or television personalities playing a role for the camera," and "in this case none of them played more than a casual role in the actual renovation process." Although we always understood on some level that Farr and Visentin couldn't be putting in all that on-camera time and overseeing a major renovation, it's still a bit mind-blowing to realize how much of their shtick is just showmanship.

The surprise problem is not a shock

Every home renovation series includes a surprise setback somewhere along the way, which is why it's a standard part of the Love It or List It formula that after the demolition has already begun, Hilary "discovers" a "structural issue" that requires knocking an item off the homeowners' renovation wishlist. A nasty surprise?

Nope, it's just more manufactured drama. The couples who appear on the show have to be fully prepared for a major renovation at the time of their audition, which means they've likely already done the legwork that would reveal, say, a foundation issue or outdated electrical system in need of replacement. It also means scenes in which clients angrily blame Hilary for having to scale back the reno plans are probably purely for show.

Not every job gets finished on time

"Within budget and on schedule" is kind of a mantra for home improvement shows such as Love It or List It, which promise the kind of amazing transformations on ultra-tight timelines that make for super-compelling television. But according to a Hooked On Houses reader whose friend supposedly appeared on the show, the contractors on Love It or List It can get bogged down in time-consuming renovation troubles just like anyone else, leading to the occasional, extreme creative measure when it's time for the big reveal to happen. "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. 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," the reader claimed.

Some projects allegedly drag on and on and on

According to a Raleigh-based Redditor, the Love It or List It production in the area used the same set of contractors for every episode and was so plagued by scheduling issues that it ended up leaving multiple renovations unfinished as the production moved from house to house, forcing participants to live in construction zones in their only partially-renovated homes for months on end.

Sometimes, you'd have to be nuts to "love it"

Every episode of Love It or List It ends with the featured couple reentering their renovated home and gasping with glee at the magical, marvelous makeover that has transformed their abode from unlivable to totally lovable. Some clients even cry with joy. While that delighted reaction makes for great television, it is also, alas, sometimes a pile of lies.

Remember that lawsuit from the North Carolina couple who appeared on the show in 2015? Among the alleged breaches of contract committed by Love It or List It was a renovation that wasn't just disappointing, but left their home uninhabitable. According to court documents (via The News & Observer), duct work left holes in the floor, "through which vermin could enter the house," and the couple complained of "low-grade industrial carpeting, unpainted surfaces, and windows painted shut." Needless to say, the part where the horrified couple likely speed-dialed an exterminator and their lawyer was not included in the episode's final cut.

Big Coat TV did release a statement addressing the highly publicized lawsuit. "Because this matter involves ongoing litigation, our attorneys have advised us and we feel that making a comment would be inappropriate at this time," said CEO Maria Armstrong in April 2016. "However, we do intend to vigorously defend what we consider to be false allegations."

The featured couple doesn't make the final decision

Of all the lies Love It or List It told you, this one has to be the most baldfaced: sometimes, not even the homeowners know the outcome of their own episode. According to the Reddit thread from folks who've been on the show or know someone who was, participants do two takes of the big question-and-answer scene in which they're asked whether they intend to keep their home or sell it. "They had them record both endings and the network chose which one they thought was best. They are still in the house and they love it, but the show says they listed it," said one Redditor.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. It's common knowledge at this point that HGTV's reality shows are heavily scripted, and there's no reason why Love It or List It would be any different, but for a show that gets its drama (not to mention its title) from that big decision at the end, it takes some nerve to fake it.