Since its premiere back in 2008, Love It or List It has become a favorite for many HGTV viewers. The concept is simple, yet so incredibly fun to watch: A couple must decide whether to stay in their freshly renovated home, or put it up for sale and move into a brand-new one. All while designer Hilary Farr and real estate agent David Visentin battle it out to convince them to, well, either love it or list it! If you’ve always wanted to be on the show, listen up—from budget to location, here’s everything you need to know about the behind-the-scenes rules of Love It or List It.
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You have to pay for the renovations.
A lot of people apply in hopes of receiving a free home renovation, but that’s not exactly what they get. Be prepared to drop serious cash on the work done to the house. “The homeowners always pay for the renovation,” an HGTV rep explained.
You need a budget of at least $100,000.
The minimum number you have to be willing to spend on things like renovation and design is $100,000. It used to be $50,000, and then it climbed to $75,000. The show has been on for over a decade!
You won’t have a lot of say in the design.
While you’re asked about the things you like and don’t like, the design team makes the final choices. One former homeowner says that even though she didn’t have much creative control, it was easy to trust them. “The white quartz counters were stunning, but Matt and I probably would have chosen a darker, more practical color,” Marci Lew told Delish.
You have to move out during the process.
For the entirety of the shoot, you can’t live in your home. This is quite common among most HGTV shows, because it allows production the space to complete the process more quickly and easily.
Where you stay is up to you, but it won’t be free.
Certain exemptions are made, however.
If you find yourself in a situation out of your control—like a delay in production or a COVID-19 scare—the show will pay for you to temporarily stay elsewhere.
Prepare to take time off work for filming.
In order to appear on the show, production needs you to be available for up to seven weekdays, which are staggered over six to eight weeks.
Don’t expect any sneak peeks!
The first time you see your new home will be on camera. Those teary reactions to the renovation reveals are very real.
Keeping the furniture will cost you.
Homeowners “are given the opportunity to purchase the furnishings and décor used for the staging,” an HGTV rep confirmed. “What they don’t purchase is removed from the home.”
But the renovations all stay as is.
While you might not be as lucky with the furniture, the renovations are kept in place. Updates to the structure of the home, electrical alterations, and other big changes are all left for you to enjoy.
You must live in North Carolina.
In 2022, the show announced it was returning to where they first started all the way back in 2008. Applicants from the Greater Toronto Area are now welcome!
Flaunt your TV-ready charisma.
Casting producers are specifically looking for people with plenty of personality. Any fun hobbies, unique quirks, or hilarious family members give you a better chance at being picked—so be sure to list them all in your application!
Producers may encourage you and your partner to, well, argue.
It’s been rumored that to make good TV, producers will try to persuade you to side with either Hilary or David—and your partner to take the complete opposite stance. A Reddit user once claimed: “The network wanted my aunt and uncle to fight with each other over decisions. But they said, ‘absolutely not, that’s not who we are.'”
You won’t see much of the hosts.
Hilary Farr and David Visentin are busy people, so it’s understandable that they don’t have much time to hang around on set. That being said, former homeowners have been thrilled to get a few moments with them. “They actually do love to rib each other! It was fun to witness that up close,” Marci Lew told Delish.
You might be asked to shoot multiple endings.
“The network chose which one they thought was best,” one Reddit user claimed after their aunt and uncle appeared on the show. “They are still in the house and they love it, but the show says they listed it.”
You can’t be in it for a paycheck.
Homeowners on Love It or List It are not paid to appear on camera. But you are getting some major home renovations, so there’s that!
Your zip code matters when it comes to getting casted.
If you live on a street the producers are looking for, they might reach out and recruit you! “I saw an email on our neighborhood list-serv that a home renovation show was looking for households to feature. We finally found out it was Love It Or List It—which is actually a show we both knew of and enjoyed—when the casting department emailed back,” Marci Lew revealed to Delish.
You need to provide a ton of details about your house.
How long you’ve lived in your home, how old the house is, what you paid for it, and the appraisal amount are among the facts you need to share on your application.
‘Fess up about what the inside looks like, too.
You disclose everything about the structure’s plumbing, electricity, air conditioning, and electrical before moving to the next round in the casting process. Be sure to tell the truth about whether you’ve already renovated something, its cost, and if you have any open permits.
You *have* to be honest about certain problems.
Past experiences with asbestos, termites, lead paint, and mold treatments must be disclosed in your application. It helps production to plan and prepare for any necessary renovations.
Send in photos of you and your home, too.
The application requires three to five photos of your house’s interior and exterior. They also ask for snaps of you and your family, so make sure they’re cute!
Once you submit an application, you’re not done just yet.
Producers ask for a five-minute video, according to former homeowner Marci Lew. You’ll give a tour of your home and explain all of the problems in each room—a.k.a. what you’re hoping to fix.
You won’t know anything about the homes you’re touring.
Deciding whether or not to list your home and buy another one is half of the show. “When we walk into a house, we are seeing it for the first time. We don’t preview it. We go in, guns ablazing, and say exactly how we feel, and it’s the same with the homeowners. They are not allowed to look ahead,” David revealed to the Los Angeles Times.
You might even tour houses that aren’t on the market.
While you’ll be shown options that are for sale, unconfirmed reports suggest they occasionally film in unavailable homes. “My spy reports that another neighbor’s house was chosen as one of Matt and Marci’s three options to buy, and they spent an entire day shooting in it,” Julia Sweeten, editor of Hooked On Houses, reported.
Sharing the contractors’ time is part of the deal.
Since multiple episodes are shot at once, you won’t be the team’s sole focus. “If they get behind on the work on a given home, they pretend that the work is done so they can wrap on the episode, then they take the crew with them to the next house [before getting back to you],” a Reddit user claimed.
No artwork is allowed onscreen.
One former homeowner revealed that only her original paintings were allowed to stay up, for copyright reasons. So if you end up being cast, feel free to get creative and make your own artwork!
Prepare to feel stressed out—it’s to be expected.
Hilary once said that viewers see a one-hour rendition of a three-week process and that it’s normal for homeowners to feel anxious. Makes sense!
You might lean toward loving it over listing it.
Over the years, more couples have chosen to keep their renovated homes rather than move on to somewhere new. Maybe that’s because it’s much more tempting to stay put once you’ve seen your house in a whole new light?
But you can always change your mind.
It’s never too late to pick a new place! “I’ve actually bumped into some people who loved it and then listed it a year and a half later,” David told the Los Angeles Times.
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