Real Estate Television: True Tales or False Realities?

All About Real Estate Reality Shows

Real estate entertainment is nothing new. Donald Trump made his own splash — the first of many — back in the 1980s, turning real estate into what dubs a “spectator sport,” and since that time, there have been many would-be stars of the small screen vying for a piece of the real estate celebrity pie.

Why Real Estate Television?

“People want the two E’s. They want entertainment and education,” San Francisco Bay Area Sotheby’s agent Herman Chan said last during a panel at the Inman Real Estate Connect conference in New York, as reported by “They want you to be helpful and hilarious. … it’s just the nature of the world right now.”

It’s these two sides of the real estate coin that seem to be pulling people toward these shows. However, chief economist Jonathan Smoke asserts that this trend has a negative edge to it.

“On the one hand, they…make homeownership look attainable in (inspiring) and practical ways,” Smoke said. “However, the reality-show format also cuts out a lot of detail and can therefore be misleading in many important ways.”

Enter so many shows that make the path to homeownership appear more star-strewn and fantastic than it might otherwise seem. Question is, how accurate is this?

If it comes from Hollywood, you can probably assume that there’s a bit more glitz than accuracy. That said, you can learn from these shows — you just have to cherry-pick the information.


What Real Estate Reality Shows Should I Consider Watching?

According to the real estate commission payment website eCommission, these real estate reality television shows are among the fan favorites:

  • House Hunters. The site calls this “the pioneer of real estate tv shows.” It turns on the question of which home will be chosen. “Each episode keeps viewers guessing,” the site says, “and has real estate agents feeling like they’re watching their own lives play out on TV.” 
  • Property Brothers. Twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott negotiate deals and design spaces to create dream homes. “The two probably make you want to find yourself a partner so that you, too, can take on the renovation industry,” the site claims.
  • Million Dollar Listing: New York. “Who doesn’t want to imagine themselves selling (or living in, for that matter) multi-million dollar condos?” the site asks. Million Dollar Listing: New York offers viewers that opportunity. What can a million dollars get you in New York? Watch and learn.
  • Flipping Virgins. Real estate expert and television personality Egypt Sherrod shows new home flippers how to buy and renovate a home. Additionally, the Property Virgins spin-off “will have you taking notes if you ever decide to jump into the flipping business yourself,” according to eCommission.

If you have any questions about what you’re seeing on television, ask your agent. They’ll be able to clear up what’s real and what’s not.

Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what’s entertainment and what’s information. That said, know that some of these shows are closer to the former and further from the latter. At the very least, you shouldn’t bank elements of your real estate transaction on what you see on the tube.