Does Reality TV Skew Buyers’ Perceptions?

A woman working on a laptop at a tall table in a home with a video camera on a tripod next to her.

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Reality TV shows may try to capture the glitz and glamor of the real estate market and what it takes to work in the profession. But Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, called the rise of reality TV shows featuring real estate “horrible” for the industry and alarming because of the image she says it portrays of brokers.

Freedman took aim at shows like Netflix’s “Selling Sunset” and Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” for their portrayal of the real estate industry. The hit TV series document personal dramas involved in high-end real estate transactions.

“This is not who we are,” Freedman said in remarks at The Real Deal’s NYC Showcase + Forum last week, as quoted by CNBC. “We want to make sure that we maintain the integrity of our business.” Freedman says some of the reality shows make it look like female agents show up in “gala gowns to open houses.”

Reality stars fired back at the comments. Ryan Serhant, who stars in “Million Dollar Listing New York,” said traditional real estate agents need to embrace the media and technology. “The old way of selling real estate has completely changed,” Serhant said on stage in response, as quoted by CNBC. Serhant, founder of the Serhant brokerage in New York City, trains agents to produce videos, boost their social media followers, and grow their personal brands. His brokerage netted more than $2 billion in sales in 2021.

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