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Is Million Dollar Listing Real or Fake?

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s one of the most common googled Real Estate questions.

Million Dollar Listing, take your pick, New York, L.A. or Miami all focus on local Realtors involved in the higher end market…so what’s real and what’s not?  I’ll tell you..

What’s Real?

The agents involved are indeed licensed Realtors in their state.  Some have more experience than others and some are pretty brand spanking new to the business.

Fancy cars.  Most Realtors do feel the need to have a fancy car, especially if they work with buyers whom they want to feel comfortable as they are driven around.

Sellers wanting more for their property than the market will bear.   All sellers want top dollar.  Sometimes seller have a difference of opinion in what that number is from their Realtor.   Experienced agents can and do bring value to a listing, however if a Seller is totally unrealistic, we won’t take that listing.   Sometimes agents will make movies or do other things that they hope will bring attention to an over priced listing but they almost never result in an actual sale for that property.

Networking the property with other agents.  Especially in the case of special or unique properties, we do belong to agent only networking groups and we spend a lot of time calling and emailing other agents to make them aware of the property and see if they are working with any buyers that might be a good fit.

Bluffing to get the buyer to come up or the seller to come down.  It’s part of the negotiation and a skill many agents don’t have.   It happens.

Not Real:

Fighting and name calling.   There are Realtors who don’t get along with each other, however in meeting and dealing with hundreds or thousands in my career, I’ve never known of a situation where agents who don’t care for each other get into a physical alteration, throw a drink on each other or spend much time at all thinking about the other agent at all.   We never know who we will have to work with in the future (I may have a buyer who has to have a property they’ve listed or vice versa,) so RE agents try not to burn any bridges, no matter how tempting.  I have known of some very strongly worded letters/emails that agents will send to other agents they’ve had issues with, but that is about the extent of it and clearly sending an angry email does not make for good television.

Dressing to the nines every day.   Busy Realtors typically spend their days running around.  Client meetings, inspections, pulling records from city hall, dealing with vendors and assistants.   Real Estate has become much more casual with many of the top tier agents even wearing jeans and a button down shirt/blouse.  We have to wear clothes and shoes we can run around in.  Agents do not over dress, not even in NYC.

Having outlandish parties for broker’s open houses.  We do have open houses for other brokers to come see but in fact most agents won’t even pass out the fancy laminated brochures they’ve had made..they will pass out copies they’ve made on the Xerox machine.  Often there will be food but if there is, it’s cookies and small sandwiches and bottled water…Not catered affairs with champaign.  The brokers that actually have clients will come see the property food or no food.

Having wild entertainment at broker’s opens or other parties at the listing.  Nope, sorry…doesn’t happen.  No circus acts, no dancing girls, no magic tries….the property is the star. When we do have parties at a listing,  typically it’s when a home was designed by a well known architect or we are just opening a new development for sale.

Punching walls or breaking things when deals fall through.   Every seasoned agent has worked countless hours and spent money on deals that in the end fell through.  Sometimes sellers change their minds, sometimes buyers do or life just happens..it’s part of the business and while no one enjoys failed deals…we certainly don’t get wildly upset about it…we just move on.

Agents spending tens of thousands on staging.   Again, doesn’t happen.   Sometimes the contract will state that the agent will pay for staging of the home however depending on the home it’s $5,000 or so and not $25,000.   No one in NYC is staging vacant properties…co-ops won’t allow it and other restrictions make it virtually impossible.   In L.A. we do stage homes but the Seller typically pays for it and we hire a well known stager to work within the peramiters we give her/him.

Unlimited multi-million dollar listings.   I can look up all the listings and sales of the L.A. are cast.  They do indeed get expensive listings because someone saw them on TV and didn’t understand that it’s 90% fiction.  However at any given time, they have listings between $300,000 and up, most of their sales are in the same ranges of other working agents, not multiple multi-million dollar properties.  The truth is, the very high end listings often take a year or more to sell, most agents bread and butter comes from mid to lower priced sales.

Verbal negotiation.  Everything in California is done on paper, period.  We may call the other agent and discuss if a ballpark offer might work, but we don’t say, “hang on, let me call my client,” and then volley back.   We certainly don’t meet on the side of Mulholland to hash out a deal (remember that scene from the L.A. show?)  And we don’t have drinks or lunch to discuss offers.  We get an offer usually via email and typically send it to our Seller and discuss the pros and cons and then in turn respond in writing.  Not great TV to see us working at our computers.   In NY, verbal offers are hashed out however they are not agreed on until a contract is signed and a deposit is sent over.    Sometimes in CA, we want to present the offer in person to the agent or seller but that is usually in the case of a multiple offer situation where you really want to make a case for your buyer.

A couple of the agents on the show are actually pretty new without a lot of experience.  Being essentially a prop on a TV show should not compel someone to hire them, especially in a complicated or expensive transaction.    The NY show actually originally casted a woman.  She has been quoted saying she spent most of her day in hair and make up and it made it very challenging to actually get any work done.  She also said it strained her relationship with her clients as those running the show wanting to create drama with every scene so she was told to speak to her clients in a way she didn’t’ feel comfortable, not to mention that confidential information is made public and that opened her up to lawsuits and further loss of business.  Luis from NY was in fact sued and fired for falsifying MLS photos of a listing.

So the characters on the show are just that….cartoon versions of who they really are that are being pushed into made up situations for the most part that will create interesting television.  Is it real?  No…Is it fun to watch…very much so.

But how much do they really make?

Josh Flagg on Million Dollar Listing L.A. has made about $400,000 so far this year (Through end of October 2014.)  $400,000 is nothing to sneeze at but it’s not millions.  His average listing price is about $900,000.   

If you have any specific questions about what is real or not on Million Dollar Listing, send me an email and I’ll be happy to address it.   Rebecca@VistaSIR.com