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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

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.



shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.



better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to be a quick process

(EDITORIAL) Minimalism is great and all…but how do you get started if you’re not sold on getting rid of basically everything you own?



minimalism desk

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix last year. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1 Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2 Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3 Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

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