If you love watching reality TV, mostly because real estate runs rampant on the screen and in your heart, stay tuned to Real Tea. Inman’s Dani Vanderboegh sits down with your favorite celeb agents to get the scoop on the newest releases, go behind the scenes, and spill the tea on all your burning questions from last season.
On Netflix’s Buying Beverly Hills, which centers around some of America’s top producing teams in the ultra-bespoke L.A. market, viewers were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the interworkings of Mauricio Umansky’s The Agency, including romances, family squabbles, rivalries, heated competition, elaborate events and some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
With eight easily binge-able episodes, Season 1 of BBH dropped in November 2022 and quickly became one of the trending Top 10. In April, Netflix announced its Season 2 renewal. There’s no official release date (because that’s kind of how Netflix does things), but the cast started filming on Monday, so fall is conceivable.
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. Wise-cracking, straight-shooting, always-good-for-a-laugh Ben Belack was among the mentors, ready to dissuade hubris if needed.
The Ben Belack Group is the No. 16 team in Beverly Hills (268 in California), and it currently boasts seven members and “a half billion in real estate sold,” according to the team’s website.
But before we get into Inman’s conversation with Belack, here’s a quick update on some of the between-the-seasons, inter-office team movements:
- Getting wooed with a bigger office space, marketing stipends and other perks, Ben Belack was faced with heavy recruitment from Compass, but after a heart-to-heart with Mauricio in the season finale, Belack was able to get some of the things on his list, and ultimately decided to stay on and grow with The Agency. He says he couldn’t see himself anywhere else.
- Mauricio still runs The Umansky Team with daughters Farrah Brittany and Alexia Umansky.
- Joey Ben-Zvi has left The Umansky Team to form his own team, the BZP Group (Ben-Zvi Piller Group), with Brandon Piller.
- And former Million Dollar Listing LA stars James Harris and David Parnes (both already with The Agency) have merged to form Bond Collective with BBH‘s Grauman Rosenfeld Group, led by steady-handed and beautifully eye-browed, Jon Grauman. The newly formed team is projected to become a top-10 mega team nationally. However, when I spoke to Harris around the time that the latest Million Dollar Listing LA season aired, he indicated that there are no plans for the Brits to appear on Buying Beverly Hills at this time, but he would be open to reality TV in the future. Castmates Kevin Stewart and Brandon Graves are on the newly formed Bond Collective as well.
With a new season in the works, we wanted to get to know Belack a little better and find out everything that’s happening with filming, office dynamics and romances. What ensued was a long chat that ranged from his ex (and secret new “lady”), to nepo-babies, to Scandoval, and Inman learned some fun personal tidbits about Belack along the way. Here are some surprising things you don’t know about Ben Belack.
1. You’ve probably seen him on TV, aside from Buying Beverly Hills
If Belack looked familiar when you binged Buying Beverly Hills Season 1, it’s probably because he’s done guest spots on shows like: Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat, Veronica Mars and more, according to the actor and his IMDB page.
In a fun twist, Belack guest starred on Fresh Off the Boat as a buyer in an episode where Constance Wu, the matriarch of the ’90s-set show, is schlepping her kids from summer open house to open house because they don’t have air conditioning. Wu ends up deciding she’s better than the agent and gets her real estate license, a common reason agents get into real estate. Belack plays one of her clients.
Having already done some acting as a child in commercials, Belack worked in hospitality, starting out bussing tables at 14, as he pursued an acting career. The cash-in-hand career was perfect as he auditioned for acting roles and worked his way into fine dining.
“My final job was at Spago; I was there for five years. I was blind-tasting wine five nights a week, with a 130-page wine list. And one of our sommeliers, as he was leaving, said to me, ‘You know, you single-handedly account for 25 percent of our wine sales a year. Alone. You, by yourself,'” Belack said.
“So [eventually] I got my license, my real estate license because someone said I will be good at it,” he explained. “That’s it. I don’t even remember who that person was; I don’t know.”
2. Although an actor, Belack wasn’t a fan of the idea of reality TV at first. Tom Ferry changed that
When he was first starting out in the business, the reality TV standard was more like Survivor.
“I thought [reality TV] was cheesy, and then I went to a mastermind with Tom Ferry, who’s the world’s best real estate coach, of course, and Jay Abraham,” Belack said of the exclusive 12-person event that attendees had to qualify for. “And there were a couple of big takeaways that I got from it. One of the biggest takeaways was about being preeminent in your marketplace. And I was thinking to myself … it’s more important to be known than to be good. So I shifted my whole strategy to being known.”
Part of that strategy was making one YouTube video a week for two years. “Ben Belack Beverly Hills Super Realtor” was born.
3. Think ‘Beverly Hills Super Realtor’ is cheesy? He loves the hate
Although fellow agents on Buying Beverly Hills love to rib him about the cheesiness of his online presence, Belack loves it.
The branding and name were kind of thrown together on the spot. “Because I was too lazy to think of something else and didn’t judge [Beverly Hills Super Realtor]. I kept it, and now people love it, and people hate it — and that’s what I want. I want to be polarizing because people remember polarizing. And look: Some people are like, ‘That guy’s a mega cheese!’
Recently, someone recognized castmate Jon Grauman in another city, and the fan told him, “I don’t like that Ben guy.”
Grauman relayed the story to Belack, “And I was thinking to myself, why the fuck is Jon telling me this right now? And then Jon said to me, ‘You’re very polarizing.’ And I was thinking to myself, that’s what I want. But I didn’t think I was so polarizing on the show,” Belack said.
“[I’m] cool with it. My vibe attracts my tribe,” he said about the haters.
4. He’s no longer dating Amanda York
Although both are still thriving at The Agency, the couple parted in November 2022. They just weren’t each other’s person, Belack told Inman.
He said she has custody of their dogs, and they have only seen each other in passing a few times since the breakup.
They filmed a lot during last season together, but most of it didn’t make it into the show. Belack said that what did make it wasn’t at all what he would have guessed when they wrapped, but he was happy with the show.
He did hint that there is a new somebody but has yet to reveal who (more to come). He did say he likes a lady, and your typical reality TV star probably doesn’t fit the bill, though he has had a few office hookups.
5. His mama raised him to be a gentleman
“I was raised by a very feminine lady-like, strong hustler. Trust me … this was not a homemaker. She commuted to New York every day [from Philadelphia], so I could be at a good school, but she still would not enter a building unless I open[ed] the door for her. We wouldn’t eat until my napkin was on my lap. And she was just like, very feminine in that way and very ladylike and very traditional.”
“This girl I’m seeing now … [she’s] very feminine and traditional … I think because I’m a gentleman naturally … we’re vibing,” Belack said.
When asked if he cared to share who he’s dating, he said he wants to wait until she’s comfortable with this reality TV thing and gives the green light to go public. Gentlemanly, right?
6. His take on Scandoval
OK, so if you don’t already know by now, on the long-time Bravo show Vanderpump Rules, (and this is going to be a very boiled-down version of the story because this column isn’t about that show until one of them gets a real estate license) Tom Sandoval cheated on his 10-year+ girlfriend Ariana Madix with fellow castmate and friend Raquel Leviss.
If you’re completely clueless, as this TikToker puts it in Friends terms: Imagine if Chandler cheated on Monica with Rachel, and they’ve kept it a secret for 7 months.
OK, now imagine it blows up so big that CNN is covering it, Howie Mandel is getting bombshell exclusives (even though he’s seemingly completely unaware of what’s happening), and every celebrity under the sun is getting asked for their take.
Here we are.
When asked about Scandoval, it turns out that Belack actually went out with Ariana Madix.
“You know what’s funny is she will probably never remember, but I went out with Ariana a while ago through this girl that I was pursuing who’s been on Vanderpump a couple times by the name of Jenna Willis,” Belack said. Small world.
Here’s his hot take on Scandoval in general:
“I think that what Tom did was not right. I do think people have done way worse in relationships to each other, particularly when they come to an end. As a casual watcher of that show, to me it felt like they were best friends for like the last several seasons. And I do dip in and out of it. There’s only so much I can take as a 44-year-old man.
And I think that one or both of them should have been adult enough to just say our romance [has] burned out. And I think because he wasn’t able to do that. That doesn’t necessarily fall on her. But I think that he just did something volcanic. To blow it up.”
7. Despite seeming nepo-baby comments — it’s all brotherly love
On the show, both behind the cameras and in front of co-workers and even Mauricio himself, Belack makes comments like, “It’s must be nice to be the boss’s daughter,” when Alexia Umansky secures the $7 million listing that she grew up in. And he’s not alone.
Obviously, if your dad is the boss, you might have some advantages in getting the listing over other agents (or it would appear that way to outsiders at least), but also you have to work twice as hard to prove your actual credibility and value, both to clients and colleagues (who may talk trash behind your back and avoid being truthful to your face because of your dad). All of this is explored throughout the first season.
When asked how a “self-made” man navigates in a world that’s rife with nepo-babies, Belack said, “Honestly, it’s very, it’s really hard for someone who’s self-made to navigate ambition internally as well as a sense of experienced fueled entitlement … and yeah, I mean, in our business, people hire their sister or whatever it is … but your first deal getting handed to you? I’m just like, well, [where are my real parents]?”
When reminded that he did ask Mauricio to adopt him in jest (probably?), he told Inman, “He so hurt my feelings!”
Mauricio responded to the ask with something like if he knew he was going to have Belack as a son, he’d be really happy about having four daughters.
“He really hurt my feelings when he said that … But he fucks with me a lot,” Belack said laughing while explaining that Mauricio even loves to pile on when others are giving Belack the business. All in a brotherly kind of way.
On-camera, it seems like everyone likes to rib Belack, and he gives it right back, but the word is that everyone is tight, even Joey Ben-Zvi, who is painted to be somewhat of a frenemy.
Belack, though not yet ready to reveal who, did mention that a new conversational sparring partner will be on Season 2. We look forward to seeing how it all plays out.
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