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Reality TV Versus Real Life

Million Dollar Listing

Friends constantly ask if I watch Million Dollar Listing. Until a couple of weeks ago, I never had. I admit that I enjoy my share of reality TV. My husband George knows a couple of Beverly Hills Housewives participants, so watching is fun. I was also a fan of Celebrity Apprentice.   Two of the most popular “Reality” TV shows are House Hunters and Million Dollar Listing. Each House Hunters episode follows a homebuyer through three home tours. You listen to their comments regarding layout, condition, and price. Realty TV Versus Real Life reflects a simplistic look into home-buying.

On television, finding the perfect home takes less than half an hour. But in reality, it often takes months and sometimes years. These “reality” shows generally skip the prequalification process, unaccepted offers, endless counters, and concessions before accepting the buyer’s offer. The inspection process usually becomes the biggest hurdle in most escrows. This sometimes results in further negotiations in the form of credits or price cuts. The producers omit this obstacle as well.

House Hunters is 22 minutes of happiness. Buyers don’t have difficulty obtaining loan approval, the appraisal never comes in low, and the buyer always closes. Last year, a Realtor’s biggest escrow problem was getting the appraisal in at a price the buyer agreed to purchase. Probably 1/3 of my listing appraisals were coming in low. But there is no room for this unpleasant fact on “Reality” TV.

About 15 years ago, my then-buyer’s agent, Meagan, appeared on House Hunters. In reality, the show did not film until AFTER Megan’s buyer selected her dream home. To coincide with the show’s format, real estate agent Megan’s role was to show her client three homes and then have her (pretend to) select the one she would buy. Obviously, the producers don’t want to waste time shooting a potential buyer who may not purchase a home for years.

The biggest challenge for our House Hunter episode was locating two other homes where we could obtain permission to film. Fortunately, I had a couple of vacant listings we could use as pretend contenders. But the reality was that the two other vacant homes were fillers and not homes Megan’s buyer had ever considered.

Although Megan’s client had been looking at homes for months, this was the only home Megan had shown her.   The truth of the decision-making process was quite different than the reality show. This buyer phoned us regarding a secluded 1920s hilltop home we had listed in Glendale’s Verdugo Woodlands. There were never any other homes in contention. Viewing the other two vacant homes was just for television.

I  know less about Million Dollar Listing. The show is entertaining. However, I am surprised that these top real estate agents would allow anyone to watch the back story of their negotiating techniques.   In addition to knowledge, negotiating is one of your real estate agent’s most valuable attributes.   After watching their show, I learned all their negotiating “techniques.” This would be very helpful for any agent negotiating offers or inspection issues with them.

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