- Michael Shapot, Esq.
Real Estate Reality Television
The difference between reality TV and real life is - well - reality. I hate that my clients are learning the intricacies of real estate from Selling New York and other shows like it. It may be reality television but they are not real. While entertaining, these programs make a clown-show out of the very serious business of residential real estate. Worse is that the staged antics, made up scenarios and fake scripts give the public a warped 'insight' to what we do and who we are as professionals. Yes, there are grains of truth in each episode. And yes, there are some show storylines that are true to life, and some participants who are serious, full time, real life, real estate practitioners. But, really??? These are the two serious problems I have with these shows: they are messaging that what we do is simple, and that we are money-grabbing snobs who provide little to no value to our clients. Showing agents calculating their commissions prior to a showing is not the real world. Showing agents negotiating at restaurants on their speaker phones is not real. Showing agents coordinating huge broker open house extravaganzas is equally fake news. Showing agents making quick-and-easy (big) money, flying around in private jets (mostly shared) and driving fancy cars sends the message that a real estate broker's job is easy and that we are grossly overpaid. Showing agents back-stabbing, throwing hissy fits and engaging in other unprofessional conduct makes for compelling tv. And all of this hurts our profession. These shows fail to show how brokers creatively and strategically solve our clients' problems and navigate the real life (often boring to all but the principals) logistical challenges of each and every home sale and purchase. Reality tv arms unknowing viewers with arguments and "proof" that agents are overpaid and not really needed. One of the things I do love about these shows is that they expose beautiful properties. Who doesn't like a little real estate porn? But I cringe at the damage these shows cause to our industry's image. They create a horrific and brazen stereotype of real estate agents who are both terribly behaved and make crazy amounts of money. By contrast, most agents are hardworking, honest, empathetic, caring, well-mannered and deliverers of value and quality service. None I know personally wear "success" as obnoxiously as any of the stars of reality tv. The message of this blog post is that it absolutely is possible for a broker to be successful while acting with integrity and providing valuable and essential services to our clients. Those of us who are great at our job make it appear simple and easy while a whole lot is happening behind the scenes. That simplicity and ease is one thing that many of our clients pay for. They want to be shielded from the moment-by-moment drama of a transaction and made to feel comfortable making important real life decisions. So - get off on the pictures. Roll your eyes at the ridiculousness. Look past the personalities. Get a professional estimate to renovate the bathroom. And ask a real real estate broker about real estate reality.