Netflix’s “Buying Beverly Hills” centers around rookie agents and their high-profile team leaders and mentors at The Agency. From mispronouncing finishes to being ill-prepared for showings, these agents dish on learning the tough lessons while being filmed for reality TV.

Netflix’s Buying Beverly Hills dropped in November 2022. The show follows a group of (relatively) new agents as they learn how to sell ultra-bespoke Beverly Hills homes under the tutelage of uber-successful team leaders at The Agency, led by CEO and reality TV personality, Mauricio Umansky.

Mauricio Umansky runs The Umansky Team with daughters Farrah Brittany and Alexia Umansky. Joey Ben-Zvi, since wrapping on Season 1 of BBH, has formed his own team, the BZP Group (Ben-Zvi Piller Group), with Brandon Piller. Both Kevin Stewart and Brandon Graves are on the newly formed Bond Collective, which is composed of Million Dollar Listing LA alums James Harris and David Parnes with BBH‘s Grauman Rosenfeld Group. The recent merger is projected to put the team on track to become a top-10 mega team nationally.

Inman spoke with Alexia Umansky, Graves, Stewart and Ben-Zvi since the launch of the show to dish on mistakes they made, lessons learned and how they learned them, and the advice they got along the way from some of the highest profile mentors in luxury real estate. Here’s what they had to say.

Alexia Umansky / The Agency

Alexia Umansky

As the daughter of Mauricio Umansky and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards, it’s no surprise that Alexia Umansky has been a real estate agent for three-plus years now, after growing up on reality TV since she was 13.

She admits to being nervous about putting her business life on camera, but her mom, Richards, gave her great advice: “Nothing that bad can happen to you if you’re just yourself. The best version of you is who you truly are, and whether you make mistakes, or you get emotional, or sometimes you have a bad day and you do something that’s not your most proud moment, that’s OK because it is real life, and nobody’s perfect.”

In the show’s trailer (which you can see here), viewers get a glimpse of Alexia’s struggles throughout the season, from mispronouncing Carrara marble to being questioned about whether she’s a fit for real estate and even whether she deserves what she gets.

“I was really nervous. I was really nervous [about] people seeing [my mistakes], hence why it affected me extra. And I wasn’t used to people talking about my mistakes as much, which also affected me extra,” Alexia said of learning to be an agent on camera. “But I’ve kind of shifted gears. I’m excited to be that person to kind of show people that I make a lot of mistakes too. And they’re very normal mistakes to make, and it’s going to be OK.”

What’s her biggest rookie mistake? Coming unprepared. You think you know something? Do your homework. Study it again. And when you don’t know, admit it, and find the right answer, Alexia Umansky said.

“I really did learn so much, and I can tell you, I’m not the agent that I was when I started this. And I’ve done a great deal of great transactions since this show. But I think that I owe so much to the mistakes I have made,” Alexia told Inman.

Brandon Graves / The Agency

Brandon Graves

“I distinctly remember going to the grocery store with my mother as a child and taking all of the free real estate magazines,” Brandon Graves said. “I would analyze every home and circle the homes that I would dream of one day purchasing.”

Although his passion was evident early, Graves’ foray into real estate came after studying music and dance, being a principal dancer for the NBA and WNBA, and working in the private health insurance industry for 15 years. On Buying Beverly Hills, he relatably represents those agents who have had a career or two before finding their path to real estate.

“I feel like everything happens when it’s supposed to. For me? I can’t imagine being, with all my new life is [now], I can’t imagine this at 20-something. I was a wreck,” Graves said with a laugh. “So for me personally, it works out. Now I think that I can call upon my life experience to help me through.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean Graves didn’t have his share of rookie mistakes.

Imagine this: You show up to your team lead’s latest listing to learn the art of selling ultra-luxury real estate under his tutelage. When you show up, you find out that you and your fellow rookie agent will be leading the tour. Hope you did your homework.

Ding, dong! The doorbell rings, and your potential buyers are here. You open the door, and none other than your brokerage’s CEO is standing there waiting for you to give him a tour.

This is exactly what happened to Graves and fellow rookie agent (and former American Idol contestant) Sonika Vaid, set up by their team lead Jon Grauman.

Understandably, this could throw even the most seasoned agents off their game — and it did for Graves, too, who bumbled through and sometimes missed the home’s features — it’s probably fair to say that neither rookie was as prepared then as they would be for a showing today.

However, that cringey tour was a light-bulb moment for Graves on tailoring the showing to the buyers and their needs and wants, one that he put into practice the next day on a showing.

What’s one rookie mistake agents can avoid? Going it alone. Join a team, Graves said. Find work as an assistant. In real estate, there are a lot of startup costs that can add up to one massive expensive mistake without guidance. If you don’t want to waste money, try getting in with a team to learn from someone with experience, and then build your business from there.

“You have to work hard at it, especially in this challenging market,” Graves said. “I came into real estate during the pandemic when interest rates were super low and everybody was buying. So I kind of scored, and I did pretty well the first year. But now I’m going into my second and that market is different. You really have to grind — you have to work really hard, otherwise, you’re not gonna make it, so it’s kind of eye-opening to see both sides of the industry.”

How is Graves coping with the shift?

“I just have to dig in even harder. Our job is to get people off the sidelines, and if there’s an opportunity, you have to present that to them,” Graves said. “It’s my job to keep you abreast of what’s happening in the market. I think before, people were just coming to me, but that’s not the case anymore.”

Joey Ben-Zvi / The Agency

Joey Ben-Zvi

As you follow Joey Ben-Zvi through the season of BBH, you see him work really hard to get a probable tear-down, with Mauricio Umansky finally getting on the phone to seal the listing — with Ben-Zvi’s aunts.

“You know, you see me struggling to sell my aunt’s house, utilizing my wonderful team of Farrah [Brittany] and Mauricio [Umansky]. We end up with an incredibly successful sale, record-breaking sale, 27 offers, $800,000 over asking,” Ben-Zvi said.

It’s that same Umansky Team mentorship that guided him to launch his own team with Brandon Piller, BZP Group (Ben-Zvi Piller Group).

All of this is happening because of the lessons and skills we learned from being in the trenches with the veterans, Ben-Zvi said. As a young agent, if you can get yourself a mentor who can help you get your foot in the door, it’s an invaluable experience.

What’s the biggest lesson he learned from his mentors?

“Mauricio’s biggest thing was always confidence. And the way you get confidence is by knowing everything there is. You have to know the market,” he said. “You have to know your buyer. You have to know your seller, and you have to know your product. You do your homework, and you come in with your head held high.”

Kevin Stewart / The Agency

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart was having his best year ever when filming BBH. At six years into his career, viewers mostly saw him through the lens of his relationship with castmate Sonika Vaid, probably because he was busy quietly closing $700 million in the background.

Growing up in Cincinnati, Stewart watched reality TV with his mom, plotting to get out to LA and do what those agents do, well, not so much the reality TV part.

So he reached out to agents before making the leap and moving to LA with something like $10,000 to live off of. After pounding the pavement to apply all over, he took an interview to sell timeshares. As he waited his turn, he got the email from his current team. “And I remember that moment, I was like, Thank God, I have to get out of this interview … This is my one shot,” Stewart said.

He’s been with the Grauman Rosenfeld Group ever since. (And now that it’s merged with former Million Dollar Listers James Harris and David Parnes, Stewart now works on the same team with the agents he used to watch on TV with his mom.)

“A lot of times as a new agent you’ll be asked questions by clients that truthfully you might not know the answer to. Instead of giving them a wrong answer, there is absolutely no shame in saying you’re not 100 percent sure and will get back to them within the hour. The reality is people are very savvy, and they’ll be able to smell bullshit from a mile away. Also, this is one of their biggest assets or purchases, and you have to be sure you’re giving true expert advice.” – Kevin Stewart

As for the rookie mistakes he’s made along the way?

In one of his first showings in LA, he had a first-time homebuyer ask how much the earnest money deposit would be, and he answered $300 because that was what was typical in his Ohio experience.

“Turns out the current EMD amount was really about $27,000 (3 percent of the $900,000 condo), so I was only about $26,700 off … Needless to say, I learned from this lesson very quick,” Stewart said.

Get Inman’s Luxury Lens Newsletter delivered right to your inbox. A weekly deep dive into the biggest news in the world of high-end real estate delivered every Friday. Click here to subscribe.

Email Dani Vanderboegh

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