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Is “Selling Sunset” Real Estate Reality? 3 Truths from a Working Agent

Erin Spradlin
4 min read
Is “Selling Sunset” Real Estate Reality? 3 Truths from a Working Agent

At present, we are three seasons and 24 episodes into “Selling Sunset,” which launched in 2019. The show is a blend of big personalities, luxury real estate, high fashion, and still referring to your staff of income-generating professional real estate agents as “girls.”

As an unabashed, unapologetic fan of reality television and a busy real estate agent in one of the nation’s top markets, I knew I had to find out why everyone was telling me to watch “Selling Sunset.”

The series starts with the twin owners of the Oppenheim Group introducing us to their agency. The agency is located in Los Angeles, they cater to the very wealthy, and the staff is white, female, and opposed to carbs. Unfortunately, the twins are mostly humorless and hard to tell apart and narrate the show with a series of looks that suggest approval, disapproval, or annoyance.

The episode also introduces us to Crishelle, who will serve as our guide through the experience of being new to the agency and relatively new to real estate.

Her boss, one of the twins, seems annoyed that she brought dog toys to the office on her first day, but I get it. Being a good real estate agent requires reading people fast, connecting with them, and creating a bond. People like their dogs a lot and judge you if you don’t like animals or animals don’t like you. As an opening move, I think this was smart on Crishelle’s part—break the ice by buttering up the pets.

GIF of Crishelle from Selling Sunset saying "A buzzer beater, if you will"

Is the Oppenheim Group a good agency?

For people new to real estate and shopping agencies like Crishelle, let’s talk about what you would want in an agency. If we want an overbearing, Amazonian blonde to simultaneously sabotage us and insinuate that an outfit from Anne Taylor is a horrific life choice, then the Oppenheim Group has you covered with Christine, our villain.

If you are curious about what else you might want in an agency, I’d advise asking the following questions.

  • Will I have a mentor?
  • Who is my mentor?
  • Have they mentored anyone else?
  • Is that person still here?
  • How long has my mentor been here?
  • Will someone be reviewing my contracts in the beginning?
  • How large of a commission do you take?
  • How much business do you feed your agent directly?

More on real estate agents from BiggerPockets

1. Christines aren’t usually successful

If you encounter a Christine and she thinks she’s super cool when she says stuff like, “I mean this, and I’m not trying to scare you, but, seriously, good luck here,” remember that there are a ton of jerks in real estate, but they usually aren’t very successful. (I can personally report having just worked opposite a local real estate legend, and she was nothing but kind and helpful on the contract. In a relationship business, it turns out being nice is a positive.)

Note the rest of the staff seems pretty decent. Mary, Maya, and Heather seem like people who have better things to do than bring back high school bullying.


2. Support your clients, don’t trash-talk them

Alright, let’s talk about Christine here. She’s the bully. She’s also the person that correctly asserts, “real estate is a mind game,” and, “I Bobby Fischer the shit out of my clients.”

You must protect your clients, and it’s also important you make them feel good about what they are doing. I assume that’s what she meant.

Unfortunately, she also trash-talks her clients and generally seems annoyed. Trust me. I feel annoyed at times. However, I’m not overly picky, so it can be hard for me to understand complaints like, “this counter isn’t quite 8 feet long,” or, “I don’t love the landscaping rocks.” But I only talk trash to my husband—never on camera and never to the client.

Purchasing a property is a huge deal, so it’s important your clients feel comfortable. Be gentle with them. There’s a lot of money on the line.


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3. But don’t forget that clients can be frustrating

And, finally, we have Maya. I have not recently been hit on by a playboy with zero respect for my marriage, but I appreciate her story arc in this episode. Clients occasionally waste your time, and it’s capital-F Frustrating. Specifically, her client seems very interested in seeing her bouncing on a bed, making him dinner, or emerging from the pool, and not that interested in the details of the house.

Worse yet, he traps her later at a happy hour against her will and then announces he’s working with other agents. Not cool. Notttttt cool.

Here’s something I didn’t understand before I got into the business: A good real estate agent is in demand. You are interviewing them, but they are also interviewing you. I am very apt to drop a client if I find out they’ve lied to me, I’m having trouble getting in touch with them, or they lack loyalty. If someone is having me run all over the Valley and laugh at their dumb jokes, I’m not excited to find out they’re cheating on me with another agent.

Maya didn’t seem excited either and tells him as much. He seems nonplussed and shrugs his shoulders as if to imply, “I’m going to spend a lot of money, so you get to put up with this.” Most successful professionals are in demand, make plenty of money, and actually don’t want to prostitute themselves for your business.

The episode concludes with some sexist commentary on women always being late to dinner. I think they should recut that and have the twins say it this way: “The people that make me all the money and do all the work are running a little late.”

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.