Real estate is a popular topic, and not just among buyers, sellers, and industry professionals.
Reality TV has turned some select real estate agents into celebrities, along with the construction and design professionals who work along with them. There’s something undeniably exciting about watching an individual or family make a major life decision, like buying a house. That’s especially true when reality TV does what it’s best at building drama, conflict, and relatable characters.
Let’s look at this growing phenomenon of real estate reality TV shows, from why they’re so popular to a few lessons that real estate professionals can take away from them.
Real estate reality: Why viewers love real estate TV shows
Why do large audiences love real estate reality TV?
Part of the answer involves the high stakes that come with purchasing a home — whether as a real estate agent or a buyer. For professionals flipping homes, the pressure to efficiently renovate and sell — to recoup the initial real estate investment — can easily make for compelling television. There is also plenty to be learned about interior design, renovations and how certain changes can add significant value to viewers’ own homes. And, since a house is the most valuable asset that most people will own in their lifetimes, shows featuring prospective buyers choosing a home tap into a common desire and experience.
A house is also the center of family life, and it’s easy to see how viewers can quickly pick up on the similarities between their own families and the ones choosing a home on TV.
Of course, part of the appeal is more general: Reality TV excels at manufacturing drama and highlighting conflict. Those are core elements of nearly every type of stories, and they can be applied to real estate just as easily as to choosing a wedding dress or the day-to-day life of a celebrity.
Which real estate shows are most popular?
Real estate reality TV is full of different concepts and resilient franchises. Some of the most popular include:
- “Property Brothers”: This long-running reality TV program features the Scott brothers helping families buy and renovate fixer upper homes. Drew has experience as a real estate agent, while Jonathan, a contractor, leads the process of fixing up each home. Broadcast on HGTV, the original “Property Brothers” series has spawned a variety of spinoffs and other projects headed by the Scott brothers.
- “Love it or List It”: Another entry in real estate reality TV for HGTV, “Love It or List It” presents families appearing on the show with a choice: keep their home, renovated to their specifications by designer Hillary Farr, or sell the renovated home and move into a new one found with the help of real estate agent David Visentin. The show has more than 15 seasons under its belt and has led to several localized versions across the globe.
- “Million Dollar Listing”: An additional entry into the reality franchise category, with versions set in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, “Million Dollar Listing” opens a window into the luxury real estate market in major cities. Just as “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” offered access to palatial homes and luxury apartments for a previous generation, “Million Dollar Listing” does the same in the modern era.
- “House Hunters”: Among the very first real estate reality TV shows, this series from HGTV has been going strong since 1999. The original and its spinoffs feature families making a decision on a home to buy or rent. It has proved enduringly popular, with the Internet Movie DataBase listing more than 2,400 total episodes.
- Many homes on real estate TV are expertly staged, whether as part of a fixer-upper or house flip process, or when the people featured in an episode visit a prospective purchase. Keep an eye out for engaging design concepts and unique staging tricks you might be able to use in your own work.
- Real estate TV programs that focus on a flip or renovation of a house often highlight low-cost upgrades that can make a major difference to a sale. You already have plenty of real estate experience, but you might pick up a valuable suggestion just from watching.
- People from all walks of life appear on real estate TV, from the easily pleased to the polar opposite. You could find a new strategy for handling difficult clients by watching an agent on TV address this common concern.
Key real estate lessons from reality TV
While reality TV is no replacement for training and on-the-job experience, these programs provide some valuable takeaways for real estate agents or brokers:
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