An acronym for “Home & Garden Television,” the popular channel has a very wide following — nearly 600,000 people watch its real estate, renovation and home-flipping shows every day. Along with well-known faces such as Drew and Jonathan Scott and Christina El Moussa, the network routinely features regular agents flipping run-down homes and selling properties on one-time episodes. While few launch full-time television careers after the experience, it can be a quick way for some agents to get recognition and attention from a wider audience.
“I got a couple of deals from it,” Lindsey Haas, an Atlanta-based Realtor who appeared on an episode of “House Hunters” in 2016, told Inman. “People who referred me and called me after they saw the show.”
To some agents, real estate TV and home-flipper shows provide an unrealistic and too carefully edited portrait of the industry. But to others, it’s a way to draw attention to their work and change up their day-to-day. Montana agent Trecie Wheat Hughes met her real estate partner Jackie Wickens, both of whom are now at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, while filming an episode for an HGTV show called “Living Big Sky,” but after learning the agents were working together, the network offered them their own show, “Mountain Mamas.”
“We started working together immediately and then once HGTV found out that we were working together, they asked us to do a show,” Hughes told Inman last month. “And then we got a pilot and a sizzle [a teaser reel with the show concept done before a show is approved].”
While some agents dip their toes into television and go back to real estate, others move from show to show in the hopes of starring in their own series. With that in mind, check out this short guide to snagging a coveted HGTV role.
Look for casting calls
HGTV regularly posts casting calls for shows on its websites. While starring in a show like the “Property Brothers” may require an agent, an entertainment background and a more involved pitching process, most of the agents we’ve talked to were able to star in single episodes by going on the website, filling out an application and submitting a video. HGTV then contacts and interviews those who made the short list.
“Agents are asked to submit a showreel to send to HGTV,” Ruth Gustaffson, an agent from the Cayman Islands who appeared on “House Hunters International” this spring, told Inman. In the episode, she tours the island with a New Jersey couple looking for a vacation property.
“I put mine together and was interviewed and was then asked to do the show.”
Find what makes you unique
Does the house you have to sell have a haunted history? Are you selling ranches in an isolated part of the country? Good television comes from unique stories and strong personalities so play up what makes you stand out from other agents.
Florida-based Douglas Elliman agent Travis Steward, who appeared on “Beach Hunters” with his clients in October, believes that his young age (he recently turned 22) and experience selling properties in both New York and Florida helped him stand out in his reel.
“I wasn’t preparing to be on the show,” said Steward, who was featured on an episode with clients who had moved from California to Cape Canaveral, Florida.”My recommendation is to not to strive to be on the show but to be the best real estate agent you can be. The recognition will come.”
Consider applying with a buyer
Some shows allow agents to apply directly with their buyer. When Haas’ clients — a wife who wanted a Georgian mansion and a husband who insisted on the convenience of split-level homes — told her that they were interested in appearing on an episode of “House Hunters,” she knew they had the personality for TV. She called up a photographer who had previously taken listing photos for her and, together, they put together an application video for the show.
“My buyer had a lot of personality and I think they liked that,” she said.
Branding, social media and other details
According to Steward, a strong brand and social media presence is useful for more than just marketing and recognition. It can help an agent get scouted and recognized for further opportunities down the line. Keep up a current Facebook and Instagram, have strong photos and, as always, be careful about what you post on social media. You don’t want something stupid you wrote five years ago to get pulled up by a viewer who started Googling your name after watching a show.
“Put yourself out there and explore all of your options in terms of marketing — whether it’s social media, print or advertising,” said Steward. “When you get an opportunity to be on a show, you want to make sure you’re prepared for it.”
Shows can often make selling a home appear stylish and effortless. In reality, being on-camera takes up a lot of time — Haas said that the filming was a nine-to-six job that left very little time for anything else during that time. When applying to be on a show, pick a time when you’re not already bogged down with real estate work (that’s why applying a buyer who also wants to appear on television can be super helpful).
“You had to be there at eight in the morning with your hair and makeup done and the house was vacant so there was nothing to sit on,” Haas said. “It was three or four days of standing on your feet.”