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“The whole family’s here, so get your cameras,” Katie Kossev of The Kossev Group notified attendees at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday.
That family was none other than The Umanskys of Beverly Hills luxury boutique brokerage The Agency.
During the panel “Reality TV, Family Drama and Building a Real Estate Legacy” CEO Mauricio Umansky, and his daughters Farrah Brittany and Alexia Umansky dished on doing business as a family and starring in Buying Beverly Hills, their recently released Netflix real estate reality TV show.
“Good morning everybody!” Umansky bellowed to the audience.
The panel began with Kossev wondering what inspired the family to create Buying Beverly Hills.
“I thought it would be a really fun experience to do,” the CEO explained. “We’re already on television, we’re on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills [which also features Umansky’s wife, Kyle Richards] … Obviously it’s great brand-building, but more than the brand-building, it was just meant to have a lot of fun.”
Brittany agreed that the show has been fun, but also helped position the brokerage for more business.
“The show is great,” Brittany said. “One of the biggest reasons I did the show, obviously, was to get more business and I think we positioned ourselves well and showed we’re serious.”
One of the primary narratives of the show’s first season was Alexia Umansky’s initiation as a new real estate agent, holding her first listing, the Umansky’s family home.
“The producers basically said, ‘If you don’t sell this, too bad,'” the new agent said. “So I was super scared, the pressure was really on, and I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect too, and the lesson learned was, it’s ok to not be perfect.”
“Spoiler alert,” she added, “I sold it in nine days and did great, and it went really well — and I became a real agent after that.”
As a father and businessman, the elder Umansky said working with his daughters in the family business has been a dream come true.
“It’s so much fun as a father to be able to have them work with me,” he said. “The way our offices work is we have co-offices, and they’re all glass, so I get to see them every single day.”
Brittany has worked with him for about the last 13 years.
“It’s a dream,” he said, adding that his father also works in the office with them, so three generations of Umanskys work in the family business.
“And we’re just like sponges,” Brittany said. “I’ve been eavesdropping next to him the last 13 years, how he does business and how he talks to people.”
With so many people in the family working in real estate, Kossev wondered if work-life balance is a struggle.
“When you are all on vacation and there’s a deal going bad, are you all like, relaxing?” Kossev asked.
The girls said that their father is the best at separating his personal and professional life, but they have more difficulty staying away from real estate talk at the dinner table. They all agreed that Richards tends to get bored with too much talk about the market, though, which helps the rest of the family keep the real estate talk to a minimum.
“I used to bring [work] home,” the senior Umansky said. “I worked with my father before in fashion and we used to talk about it all the time. I think my wife Kyle has a lot to do with it because she’ll get bored and she has a really strong personality — I think everyone can agree on that.”
“I started training myself,” to maintain work-life balance, he added.
Brittany admitted that she was probably the most skeptical about doing Buying Beverly Hills, but at the end of the day, felt the benefits would likely outweigh any cons.
“Ultimately, I think it worked out well, but we’ll see, because there are always going to be things that come up,” she said.
Mauricio Umansky said that he felt the vulnerability that the show’s cast was willing to share with viewers is what makes the show compelling.
“It’s what’s entertaining to other people,” he said, adding, “I think there’s a lot to learn [on the show] from an entertainment perspective, but also from a real estate perspective.”
As one of the youngest and least experienced agents at The Agency, Alexia Umansky said that she tried to highlight the new agent’s experience and received a lot of positive feedback online from other newbie real estate agents struggling to make it who felt she “normalized” their experience, and made them feel seen.
“A lot of other shows make it look so easy and fun, which it is,” she said. “But we’re trying to show that you make mistakes.”
Looking ahead to 2023, the luxury CEO said the best thing agents can do is nurture solid leads and position their sellers well in the market.
“The reality is we’ve been in a housing recession for six to seven months,” he said. “People may or may not want to admit it, but that’s the reality. We’re starting to see the stabilization of that, starting to see more showings, more mortgage applications. I predict we’re going to see a continuation of a slower market … From your perspective as real estate agents, advise them to position their properties to sell. I think that’s the most important thing you can do right now.”
“As agents, it’s your moment to stand out, to be super knowledgeable,” he added.
As for the younger Umansky, following her first big listing, she said she’s going to keep going strong in her real estate career.
“I love this job it’s so great,” she said. “I’m loving it, and I’m not going anywhere.”