5 Ways Real Estate Reality TV is Making Your Job Harder

Services for Real Estate Pros with Jessica Cates Creative

house_hunters_filmingphoto credit: utahvalley360.com

As reality TV shows have exploded in popularity, the term ‘reality’ has been grossly exaggerated. This is especially true with many popular real estate reality shows, coined as “realty reality TV” (by me, just now).

These shows are endlessly entertaining – but they are actually shaping the way buyers and sellers think about real estate transactions. Unfortunately, some of the inaccuracies beamed from these shows into your clients' brains are actually making your job harder because you are constantly working to reset false expectations. Like what, you say?

Top 5 Ways Real Estate Reality TV is Making Your Job Harder:


  1. Buyers believe all properties can be easily salvaged with a good contractor:

    As you know, this is 100% false. Some properties are better off condemned than rehabbed, and budgets won’t stretch nearly as far as they seem on TV shows. In many cases, remodel shows don’t include the money needed for planning, design and labor in the total cost – so while a complete gut job looks affordable, the real costs could be double or even triple the amount shown. If you have buyers eager to invest in a fixer upper, refer them to a contractor who can give them real numbers so they don’t end up in a situation way over their heads.

  2. Sellers think they must remove all their stuff in order to show their property:

    Contrary to what popular shows like House Hunters would lead you to believe - it’s okay to continue to live in your house when you’re trying to sell it. That said, it’s not okay to keep it messy – be organized and put your stuff away, depersonalize, etc. But you’re not required to remove every last little piece of property to storage in order to show the place. Help your sellers strike a nice balance by providing staging advice when the time comes to host potential buyers.

  3. Buyers get hung up on little things and assume an older house is a bad house:

    Once again – this is simply not true. Just because a home has outdated fixtures or older counter tops, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad home. Buyers get caught up in details when really, they need to be looking at the bones of the house. Is the layout functional? Is it structurally sound? Is it free of major flaws? If the answers are yes, then it’s a sound investment, because almost all cosmetic items can be updated. Be prepared to remind potential buyers of this constantly, because it’s a tough one for them to come to terms with.

  4. Open concept homes with granite and stainless steel are a dime a dozen:

    If you watch a lot of house hunting shows, you’ll begin to notice that just about every kitchen is updated with granite and stainless steel and just about every house has been converted to an open floor plan. If you actually look for properties in the real world, you’ll find that this is not the norm. Instead, you find older tile counters, aged cupboards and closed off kitchens. Help buyers reset their expectations by sending over as many listings as are available in their price range early on in the process so they have a better idea of what to expect in real life.

  5. It would appear that all real estate journeys have a happy ending:

    You might notice that it’s very rare to see a home sell for less than it’s original purchase price or to see buyers who simply don’t end up finding their dream home on real estate reality shows – but the truth is, it happens all the time. The market is volatile and so are the real estate outcomes. Use your knowledge of your buyers' or sellers goals, wants and needs and help them set appropriate expectations right off the bat to manage the highs and lows that are guaranteed to occur throughout the shopping process.


Despite all the pitfalls of buyers and sellers who have been brainwashed by realty reality TV, you have to admit that it’s highly entertaining. Instead of suggesting your contacts ease off on their binge sessions, offer your clients your blessing to binge watch their favorite realty reality TV shows – so long as they promise not to get TV “reality” and real reality confused.


Have your clients been impacted by realty reality TV shows? Share your stories in the comments!

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Jessica Cates

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Comments (98)


I couldn't help but post on this topic again.I have had sellers and buyers want a minute by minute play. Whether it is showings, feedback, and offers. I will get texts & email all hours of night into early mornings wanting updates. "As Seen on TV" we as agents can not and should not have 24hr access. Too many of my younger clients react too quickly. They need to process the information, think about and make thought out decisions. TV reality real estate shows, Internet and social media has made the traditional listing, buying and negotiateing property much tougher.I guess real estate is changing and we need to change with it.

Jul 25, 2015 04:04 AM
AndreaBFerreira CRS - SRS - CLHMS
Keyes Co. - Davie, FL
Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County in FL

I would never call these TV shows as reality program because they never show the reality as it is.. so fake.... I tell all my customers stay away as any other no upadted Real Estate tool... uuughhh

Jul 25, 2015 05:39 AM
Christina Sanchez Hood
Palo Alto, CA
#SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living

Jessica Schweppe, I so enjoy your posts!  I do what I can to live my life like a Reality Real Estate Star... well, in my own mind!  Thanks for making me smile.  

Jul 25, 2015 03:32 PM
Teri Pacitto
Compass - Westlake Village, CA
Real Estate, Your Style...Your Home...My Specialty

Often when I meet a buyer or seller for the first time they mention one of these shows they have seen on TV. I have to smile and my response is that one just can't believe what they see on TV. It's amazing that they do.

Jul 25, 2015 11:31 PM
Jessica Cates
Jessica Cates Creative - Gilbert, AZ
Real Estate Marketing Expert + Blogger

Debra Leisek - always a silver lining!

DAVID SEGREST - Being a young buyer myself, I can understand this but I try to be reasonable and don't mind if it takes a while to hear back on things I think it's super important to set expectations up front on what's acceptable or not (for both parties) to make sure you'll be able to accomodate each other's comfort levels. 

Christina Sanchez Hood - thank you so much!

Jul 26, 2015 04:46 AM
Doyle Davison
Hawaiian Beaches Hawaii - 714-968-6767 - Huntington Beach, CA
30 years as your Concierge services listing broker

I definitely see more things making our job harder than easier... technology even has major limits... I had no clue people thought some of these things... ah ha..

Jul 26, 2015 05:06 AM
Tanya Van Blake-Coleman
Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/www.talk-to-Tanya.com - St Thomas, VI
Improving the Quality of Your Life

I have to confess, I watch most of them. I even did an episode of House Hunter's International some years ago.  They do make people think that folks only look at three homes before they buy, wouldn't that be wonderful if that were true!!!!

Jul 26, 2015 10:16 AM
Shanna Day Team Leader AZ & UT - Call 480-415-7616
Keller Williams Realty EV (AZ) & Keller Williams SLC (UT) - Mesa, AZ
Top 0.33 of 1% of 79,000 AZ Realtors

It's difficult to talk sense into a couple after they have become brainwashed by reality tv - or am I wrong?

Jul 27, 2015 01:11 AM
Jessica Cates
Jessica Cates Creative - Gilbert, AZ
Real Estate Marketing Expert + Blogger

Shanna Day Mega Team Leader (AZ & UT) - Honestly, I think it depends on the couple and how hoodwinked they are :). Your best bet is to provide a reality check with evidence from market (examples of recently sold properties and what they sold for, etc.)

Jul 27, 2015 02:52 AM
Dennis Palmer
Homesmart - Glendale, AZ
Helping empty homes find families in the E Valley

Imagine a world where you show the buyer 3 houses, and they actually pick one of the three!!  No endless days of looking in their world. Reality indeed.

Jul 27, 2015 10:32 AM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Nothing is ever "just like TV" OR the Internet...in real life...and those fantasies are hard disspell in real estate.

Jul 27, 2015 07:28 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

great post and fascinating discussions. I had a house under contract and we were one of the houses that a reality tv show used as one of the listings the buyers "looked" at before choosing another house. It didn't matter to anyone that our house was already under contract or that the buyer already had another house under contract. That did not agree with the show's story line

Jul 27, 2015 07:49 PM
Sybil Campbell
Fernandina Beach, FL
Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida

Jessica Schweppe,   I watch some of those shows just to get a good laugh at how opposite of reality they are!

Jul 27, 2015 10:53 PM
Jessica Cates
Jessica Cates Creative - Gilbert, AZ
Real Estate Marketing Expert + Blogger

Lise Howe - smoke and mirrors!

Jul 28, 2015 03:21 AM
Jessica Cates
Jessica Cates Creative - Gilbert, AZ
Real Estate Marketing Expert + Blogger

Will Allen - right, so let's hire a professional with years and years of experience to guide us through the process, then use what we learned from reality tv to tell him what to do. Sounds perfectly logical to me! 

Jul 28, 2015 04:05 AM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Every intelligent person should know that Reality TV is primarily for entertainment, right? So, if consumers are unwilling to accept that, they're probably fans of WWE too.

Jul 30, 2015 09:22 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I don't watch that stuff because it isn't reality and is deceiving to the public.  

Aug 03, 2015 04:59 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

You are so right, I've noticed a very warped view of the real estate process over the last 4 years especially. I always (with a  light heart) share with my clients, " My #1 job is to detox you off Zillow & HGTV and share the wisdom of the REAL real estate market (here in San Diego)." That's the other thing, they watch a TV show that filmed in NY or FL and assume it works that way in CA and so on. "The public is drowning in information and starving for wisdom".~ Brian Buffini

Aug 09, 2015 04:09 AM
Jessica Cates
Jessica Cates Creative - Gilbert, AZ
Real Estate Marketing Expert + Blogger

Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor - as a San Diegan myself, I always laugh when I see our city on House Hunters. You'll see agents telling potential buyers that somewhere waaaay out in east county is a 15 minute commute to downtown.  Ha - I wish! I just want to jump through the TV and set the record straight. 

PS - I may potentially be looking to work with an SD agent soon... I'll keep you in mind!

Aug 10, 2015 07:01 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Please do, I'm never too busy to serve you or your referrals 

...and yes I agree with you whole-heartedly!!!

Aug 10, 2015 07:11 AM