• The real estate industry is no cold prospect to reality television.
  • Fast flips and dazzling deals are found on every channel, but not one of them gets it right. Then there are show characters who just make the profession look bad; "The Bachelorette's" luxury real estate agent villain is a timely example.
  • Actual real estate drama exists: lost prospects, the missed appraisals, the broken closings. I long for a real estate reality show in the vein of "Cops" -- let's show the nitty gritty.

As Bravo’s million dollar listings dazzle viewers with the glamorous real estate lifestyle and DIY fast house flip tutorials flaunt investor winnings on every home improvement channel, the real estate industry is no cold prospect to reality television.

I’m not pulling the cover off of any dark conspiracy when I say this: The tightly edited and remarkably short-on-insight shows in this shag carpet-thick broadcast milieu won’t really give cynics of the real estate profession a reason to change their wallpaper.

First, the general public absorbs shows of the HGTV variety that vastly oversimplify the homebuying transaction (looking at you, “House Hunters”). And then you’ve got those show characters who just make the profession look bad.

This season of “The Bachelorette” is a timely case in point.

I can’t help but wonder if the career choice of this show’s latest lovelorn, mustache-twisting cretin inspired ABC producers to once again edit real estate professionals with a pejorative prerogative.

His name is Chad Johnson, a cast member whose behavior is juxtaposed with “Luxury Real Estate Agent” every time he’s creatively edited into some scheming scenario. Which, for the first four episodes at least, happened practically all the time, with his villain antics serving as the only source of drama that could possibly make the show entertaining.

In fact, as of this writing, the last few episodes cast him in violent light, and preview teasers indicate there’s more of that to come, even though he’s been technically eliminated.


As is the case with all other real estate reality television, are we only seeing one-half of the deal?

The truth about real estate’s reputation

Maybe this Johnson guy isn’t the warmest dude in “The Bachelorette” palace, but maybe he isn’t the sociopathic jester they’re making him out to be. Don’t color me shocked if it’s later revealed that the entire scenario was an act pushed by the producers.

Unfortunately, how he looks on camera is up to other people. (It’s also possible he is that bad.) And for well over a decade now, most of the industry has been getting shortchanged by the lure of 22-minute vacation home hunts and million dollar deals carried out with nary a hitch.

There’s no shortage of Americans who will demonstrably scoff when presented with arguments for the value of a real estate agent.

No doubt this same demographic is associating ABC’s most recent fame-hungry suitor with everyone who holds a license to sell homes. It’s a shame.

Gallup published an “Honesty/Ethics in Professions” study in 2015 measuring the public’s view of common career choices.

Real estate agents landed a score of 20 out of 100 (with 100 being the highest) on the “honesty and ethical standards” ranking. That’s worse than lawyers (21) and just above labor union leaders (18).

Why? How did this happen?

Burning an image on the minds of the public

Even agents laugh dismissively at the paint-by-number simplicity with which editors craft the house-finding stories that buoy the existence of no less than 50 obscure cable channels.

I know that many of these shows have made, or at least greatly extended, the careers of the agents they cast.

However, is the success of this platform good for those who aren’t subjected to makeup sittings before checking their messages each morning?

(I have to wonder, how much of their wealth is now studio-backed instead of commission-based?)

Thankfully, most of these shows aren’t making their stars out to be people they aren’t. They all seem like upstanding agents and people. Inman Connect has hosted many of them to great response.

But collectively, these shows do make the industry look easier than it is. Fast money. Easy deals.

Is the real estate reality show doing for dealmaking what the Zestimate is doing for market valuations?

When it comes to finding properties or striking deals, are agents having to make excuses for what people are seeing on HGTV?

The real estate reality we should be showing

I long for a real estate reality show in the vein of “Cops.” Hear me out.

I’m aware they piece together the chases and more physical arrests because, like real estate agents, law enforcement officers do volumes of paperwork, a job necessity that doesn’t make for good television.

However, at least “Cops” isn’t afraid to depict the warts on occasion, too: the cops getting black eyes, officers who are accidentally poked with needles and the days that just plain suck.

I believe real estate gets the raw end of the reality TV deal.

Television leaves out the lost prospects, the missed appraisals, the broken closings.

I want to see how an agent handles whatever the closing table equivalent might be of “disorderly guy in street with shirt off.” Is that too much to ask?

The short end of the stick

Taken together, these shows don’t advance the industry. Ultimately, if allowed to persist, the industry will be impacted negatively. And I’d say that the everyday agents (who make up the vast majority of the profession) are the ones being harmed by it all.

Real estate is hard. Yet for the sake of entertainment (and fame) we allow this valuable trade to be eroded into a half-hearted and even less baked version of what it actually represents.

It isn’t a stretch to believe that the reputation of real estate in the eyes of our nation’s buyers and sellers is slowly merging with the editing parameters of reality television producers.

Do we trust that the public knows the difference between an ethically sound, everyday real estate professional and say, a cheesy bully on a morally corrupt show about “finding love?”

Is “Modern Family” on yet?

Email Craig Rowe

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