The Reality of Television Characters Playing Real Estate Agents

tv sitcoms real estate agents

Real estate agents are not accurately portrayed on most TV shows.

Because I have been in the real estate business since the 1970s, I have been involved in “old school” real estate, which has evolved into “new school” real estate, but many people do not understand real estate lingo nor the profession and draw impressions from previous decades. Some get false impressions from goofy TV characters playing real estate agents. Why would anybody really understand what’s going on in Sacramento real estate anyway unless they work in the business? They hear only bits and pieces from friends, and that’s not enough to put together the real story.

For example, a client asked why other agents are showing her house. Because I am the listing agent, she thought I would personally lead a parade of buyers through her home. I asked if she wanted me to practice dual agency because my recollection was she expected me to only represent her and not to represent a buyer.  It became clear that she did not initially understand that listing agents who show homes to buyers typically represent those buyers and those types of agents, few and far between, work in dual agency.

Dual agency, meaning those listing agents are trying to get the seller the highest price for her home while they are simultaneously trying to get the buyer the lowest price, which is pretty much impossible. But it doesn’t stop some from engaging. They salivate over that double commission with dollar signs for eyeballs, and they are often the types shown on television sitcoms.

I reflect on the TV shows that show characters playing real estate agents — and apart from HGTV or Bravo Reality TV, which is often an embarrassment to the industry — most other television shows low-key it and also don’t really reflect reality. Who is a real estate agent on TV? Well, there’s Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. Enough said about that. I think Kramer from Seinfeld started out as a real estate agent. Yikes. In the comic strip, Hi and Lois, isn’t Lois an agent, although all she ever does is stick signs in the yard.

The public sees the abominable character assassinations of real estate agents on television and form the impression that’s how the real estate business is run. Because television characters playing real estate agents is pretty much a joke, along with the Reality TV Stars. Actually, the business is very entertaining on its own level, and it’s a shame the public doesn’t get to see what really goes on behind the scenes.  But then documentaries don’t pull in the eyeballs like soap operas.

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