Reality TV vs Real Life – Real Estate Edition

Reality TV vs Real Life – Real Estate Edition

Reality TV is often anything but real, and while a lot of shows claim to be unscripted, few actually are. Even shows that are produced without scripts still rely on tons of editing and post production work that takes them further and further away from reality.

With the popularity around so many real estate TV shows, we decided to ask real-life RE professionals how the shows we watch on television compare to what they do every day. In addition to stressing that most shows embellish the truth, each real estate expert we talked to pointed out specific areas where these programs can mislead viewers.

Mary Palumbo (The Shockley Team)

Mary confessed that she likes watching the shows, but dislikes the ways agents are shown to be dishonest to amp up drama.

I love watching those types of shows, but being a Realtor I see how simplified television stations make it look, cutting out all of the negotiations back and forth between everyone involved. The most important thing is to be honest with your clients, making sure they know what’s going on every step of the way by communicating. I just think that the reality shows depict the agent as not being honest and forthright and that can be very detrimental to our industry. All in all, the shows are great as long as everyone remembers this is reality, and not everything goes as planned all of the time as much as we all may want it to. Finding the right agent who will take time and have the patience to explain and be there is all anyone needs when buying, selling, or renting.


Naomi Hattawa (8th & Home)

Naomi pointed out the fact that buying and selling a home in real life doesn’t usually fit in to the half-hour long time frame most shows depict.

One of the biggest frustrations that shows like Flip or Flop, Househunters, or even Fixer Upper amongst Realtors is that clients sometimes admit they spend hours a week watching those shows, and then are sorely disappointed when they go out to look at homes in real life and find that it:
1. Takes more than three homes before you can even begin to narrow down a favorite
2. There is much more that goes into a home search besides how close it is to a coffee shop, whether there is granite or an open layout in the living space
3. It is a long process! Once you’ve chosen the home, due to new industry regulations, it is typically 45 days before you get to closing.
4. There is a LOT that goes into the process once a contract on a home is fully signed (or ratified).


Jeff Knox (Knox & Associates)

Jeff provided a dose of reality by explaining how a real open house compares to the ones you see on television.

While the reality TV shows love to end their broadcasts with clips of an open house showcasing the newly renovated property swarming with potential buyers, the real world reality of an open house is much different. In the real world, a two hour open house will bring maybe three to four lookers. And, as a Realtor at an open house, you are lucky to even get one real, potential buyer to attend. The others who attend are mostly nosy neighbors who want to judge the house, look inside, and compare it to their house to see the potential value of their own home.


Melanie McShane (BrokerInTrust Real Estate)

Melanie shared the real-world effect these shows can have on clients.

There is a HUGE disconnect between what home buyers see on TV and what happens. On my website,, I have a video in the About me section and I talk about how one of my clients was shocked, absolutely shocked that the offer process was not something that happened in a matter of minutes. She had seen on some HGTV show that we simply call another agent from Starbucks, let them know that we have a buyer and then we open escrow.


Debbi DiMaggio (

Debbi’s main issue with reality TV shows? The negative way they portray clients and agents. Her advice is to enjoy the shows for what they are – entertainment – without mistaking them for what really goes on behind the scenes of a real estate transaction.

What’s so wrong? When a seller says, in the show, I don’t care if my home is not worth it, I want $1,000,000 more anyway. No seller is going to be that arrogant and that ridiculous. It would be better if they toned down the outrageous story lines.
I have come to learn that many of the homes are not actually on the market, and the series is scripted. The story lines and prices are as well.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you see on TV, even if it claims to be real. This is especially true if you’re in the middle of buying or selling a house. Forms and contracts don’t make for must-see TV, but they are VITAL to making sure your transaction goes smoothly.

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