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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!

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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?

Written By

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!



  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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