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Opinion Editorials

Real estate television shows: friend or foe?



I don’t care what some agents say, but I, for one, am super grateful for the proliferation of real estate TV. Like it or not, the world has gone mad for any program remotely related to hocking homes. Countless real estate shows are beamed into million of viewers homes 24/7. The public can’t get enough!

There are even whole networks, like HGTV & DIY, dedicated solely to our careers. The rise to domination of real(i)ty TV over the airwaves the past 10 years has absolutely changed the professional landscape for us agents.

A perfect example is last week when someone emailed me out of the blue after he & his wife saw me on HGTV‘s House Hunters. Now, as agents, we get contacted all the time from our ads, referrals, and our sphere of influence, right? Well, what is different about the leads who reach out to me from TV, versus other outlets, is that they are so well informed.

Avid real estate tv viewers

These avid real estate TV viewers come to the table fully prepared. Each night before the boob tube, they sponge up the tips and info. It’s literally an education for them, like Sesame Street for adults. In talking to these clients, I was in utter awe of how their perception of real estate was colored by their TV viewing habits.

When I mentioned the importance of running comps, they didn’t skip a beat and said “We visited some active and sold listings already…We love Mike on Real Estate Intervention”. In discussing the right price to enter the market, they said “It shouldn’t be too high or else it will take too long to sell. We don’t want to end up like that crazy seller on Property Shop. Poor Tatiana!”. And the conversation continued to be peppered with allusions to real estate TV (Genevieve said this, and David Bromstad said that, blah blah blah).

My initial reaction was, “Wait a second, who’s the realtor here!?” But, the more they talked, the more I realized, “Oh my, they were doing the listing presentation for me. I could get used to this!” It almost made me want to write a thank you card to HGTV!

To agents who hate real estate tv shows:

To the agents who bemoan that these shows set up unrealistic expectations (in a blink of an eye, Flip That House & voila, make a profit!”) or that they paint agents in an unflattering light (as seen by some epic confrontations between Josh Flagg & Chad Rogers of Million Dollar Listing), I say “Don’t be an ingrate!”

You see, real estate TV is largely responsible for mainstreaming real estate lingo. These programs have socialized an entire generation to toss around terms like ROI, staging, de-cluttering, DOM like it’s second nature to them. I don’t feel eclipsed, threatened or devalued at all as a real estate professional. In fact, I feel the more informed the clients are, the easier it is for us. I don’t have to start from scratch. We can spend less time educating and more time wheeling and dealing….which, as Martha says, is a good thing.

As an aside, a Hollywood publicist relayed to me that one of the Million Dollar Listing boys is leaving the show and Bravo has been on the hunt for a replacement… it is easy for us to anonymously sit behind our laptops and judge people on TV, but let me pose this question: If Bravo offered that role to you, would you take it?

Watch Real Estate Expert Herman Chan put the REAL back in REALTY. In his show Habitat for Hermanity, Herman skewers the real estate business and pokes fun at his fellow agents, all the while empowering buyers & sellers with behind-the-scene tips & secrets of the industry! Get a glimpse beyond the glitz & glam of real estate. It's a hot mess! Featured on HGTV, House Hunters & other media outlets, Herman is the undisputed Real Estate Maven whose helpful & hilarious commentary you just can't live without! In fact, his real estate TV show has just been optioned in Hollywood!

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  1. Ken Montville

    July 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Sure. Doesn’t everyone want to be a TV Star.

    Not being a California kinda guy, i don’t get many chances at Bravo and even fewer clients that watch HGTV outside of the decorating shows. It’d be nice,

    I have to admit, to have clients that watch these shows so I can show them three houses, write the offer and have it accepted – all within an hour with the commercials thrown in – would be heaven.

    • Fred Romano

      July 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm

      Well I’m sure they see more than 3 homes, but they edit it all down for TV – Magical huh?


        July 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

        actually they do only see 3 homes, but one is already in escrow or recently closed. don’t mean to burst your bubble!

        • Fred Romano

          July 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

          OMG get out! are you serious?

          • Herman Chan

            July 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

            yup, for once i am not being flippant 😉

            it’s still a great show, so don’t let me ruin it for ya!

  2. Fred Romano

    July 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    That Tatiana on the Property Shop is real winner! I would never want to do business with her. I don’t understand why she isn’t “fired” by her sellers more often.


      July 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

      i wonder if putting her career on TV helps or hurts getting sellers to list w/ her? i can imagine some sellers who would prefer not having all the world to see their financial and emotional roller coaster….

  3. Ken Brand

    July 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

    It can’t hurt. At least it’s not created (entirely) in a Jersey/OC/New York/DC Housewives. One thing I have noticed, when one of the featured people does a good job, you can see the difference between a poor, average, and excellent agent.



      July 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm

      i feel bad for the agents who appear unprofessional. even if they improve, their appearance will be aired online and on tv in perpetuity~!

  4. BawldGuy

    July 19, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Not in this or any other lifetime. 🙂

  5. Chandler Realtor

    July 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Ha! I was just talking about this earlier! Awesome post!

  6. Reid Greiner

    July 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I appeared on Agent vs Agent this past year in two episodes, all airing on HGTV in Canada. I do get lots of recognition on the street, well maybe it’s because i wear the kilt while i’m working with clients… but either way, I feel if the production company doesn’t make the whole premise gimmicky or cheap, appearing on this type of real estate program on national television can do nothing but improve the image of a good agent and tarnish the ones that deserve it with the way the handle their clients.


      July 30, 2010 at 4:31 am

      reid, post a link to your episodes, we’d all love to see!

  7. Daniel Yu

    November 18, 2010 at 5:07 am

    Hi Herman!
    I’m wondering what TV shows you would suggest me to watch. I’m going to be a Realtor after university and want to get as much information as I can. I watched Million Dollar Listings and Realtor vs. Realtor (and of course the famous Habitat for Hermanity). Is there any other shows you can suggest to me that meets you standard?


      November 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      oh daniel! congrats on picking our wonderful profession as your career!

      i like Million Dollar Listing too, but more for the dramatics than any real estate lesson. i think real estate intervention with Mike Aubrey helps capture the current zeitgeist . u need to learn how to have those hard talks with clients. and of course house hunters is always a main staple. it is HGTV’s #1 show consistently for a reason!

      as entertaing as shows are, there really is no substitute for experience! i would advise you to just jump in, get some real life experience, partner with another agent, or get a mentor! you’ll do great daniel!

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Opinion Editorials

The offensive myth of getting laid off being a blessing



laid off, losing job

There’s an age-old trend in news to look for rags-to-riches stories. People love to hear about someone who’s down on their luck scraping together a genius idea and, through sheer grit (it seems), finding the motivation to finally strike out on their own and realize their dream.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Person X is laid off from their long-time but unfulfilling office job, say at an oil company in Alberta, or a marketing agency where their good ideas are consistently shot down.

What seems like a situation to for despair is actually an opportunity in disguise— see, with their newfound freedom Person X has the ability to fully commit to their small business pipe dream.

In fact, the story goes, getting laid off was actually the best thing to ever happen to this person.

This story is a myth.

Although I don’t want to discredit anybody who has had the willpower, luck, and resources to succeed at launching their business, there are many people who are laid off who are truly in critically terrible times.

The insidious underlying message of this myth is that anybody who is truly devastated by being laid off is being weak or lazy.

It serves to alleviate the guilt of those who may have survived the lay off themselves; it helps organizations justify the fact that they might have had to let an otherwise good employee go for their own, corporate-level problems.

The characteristics that many of these laid-off-turned-successful-entrepreneurs have in common are the same sort of privileges that many take for granted – health, youth, a personal support system to help keep the lights on, and an established network of people that can be turned into a market of clients.

What happens to the many workers who are victims of ageism when they are laid off in favor of younger, less expensive workers?

What happens if you’re laid off and you can’t use your newfound time to work on your business plan because you’re raising young children?

The entrepreneurs who find opportunity in being suddenly jobless were probably already on their way to striking out on their own, with their being laid off acting as the defined starting point for a plan they might not have known was forming in their heads.

If you, a friend, or a colleague have the unfortunate luck to be laid off, don’t let this myth get under your skin.

It’s okay to have a rough time with a huge life event that is absolutely terrifying and difficult.

Hang in there.

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Opinion Editorials

3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce.



follow your passion career job interview

More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

(This article was first published here in November, 2016.)

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Opinion Editorials

How the Bullet Journal method has been hijacked and twisted

(EDITORIAL) I’m a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, but sticker-loving tweens have hijacked the movement. Worry not, I’m still using black and white bullet points with work tasks (not “pet cat,” or “smile more”).



bullet journal

It’s taken me some time to come around to the Bullet Journal method, because it took me some time to fully understand it (I have a tendency to overthink simplicity). Now that I understand the use, I find it very beneficial for my life and my appreciation for pen-to-paper.

In short, it’s a quick and simple system for organization tasks and staying focused with everything you have going on. All you need to employ this method is a journal with graph or dotted paper, and a pen. Easy.

However, there seems to be this odd truth that: we find ways to simplify complicated things, and we find ways to complicate simple things. The latter is exactly what’s happened with the Bullet Journal method, thanks to creative people who show the rest of us up.

To understand what I’m talking about, open up Instagram (or Pinterest, or even Google) and just search “bullet journal.” You’ll soon find post after post of frilly, sticker-filled, calligraphy-laden journal pages.

The simple method of writing down bullets of tasks has been hijacked to become a competitive art form.

Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at this stuff because I dig the creativity. But, do I have time to do that myself? No! For honesty’s sake, I’ve tried just for fun and it takes too much damn time.

With this is mind, this new-found method of Bullet Journaling as an art is something that: a) defeats the purpose of accomplishing tasks quickly as you’re setting yourself back with the nifty art, and b) entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, or anyone busy would not have time for.

Most of these people posting artistic Bullet Journal pages on Instagram are younger and have more time on their hands (and if you want to spend your time doing that, do you, man).

But, it goes against the simplistic method of Bullet Journaling. The intent of the method.

And, beneath the washi tape, stickers, and different colored pens, usually lies a list of: put away laundry, feed cat, post on Insta. So, this is being done more for the sake of art than for employing the method.

Again, I’m all for art and for people following their passions and creativities, but it stands to reason that this should be something separate from the concept of Bullet Journaling, as it has become a caricature of the original method.

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