Are These TV Real Estate Pros Any Good?


It’s no surprise that real estate professionals have long been front and center on some of our favorite TV shows. After all, buying, selling, and repairing homes is inherently visually interesting, and comes complete with a built-in set of high emotional stakes.

We’ve dived into the pros and cons of the culture of HGTV before – but what about the (even more) fictional real estate professionals on TV? What can the real estate brokers from our favorite dramas and comedies show us about the industry, for better or worse?

Let’s take a look at three sets of TV real estate pros that have captured the public’s imagination:

Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

As portrayed by Ty Burrell, Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy is a lot of things – a loving father, a cheesy class clown, and – given how often he messes up other parts of his life – a pretty successful real estate broker.

While this smash-hit ABC sitcom doesn’t typically doesn’t revolve around Phil’s real estate career, it’s an important cornerstone for the character and for the show, and we see the Dunphy patriarch at work enough to get a sense of what he does right and wrong as an agent.

On the plus side, it's easy to see that Phil is an incredibly hard worker and an optimist willing to do whatever it takes to help his clients get what they want. We also know that he’s an active networker, with plenty of contacts in the Southern California Board of Realtors. On the other hand, Phil’s reliance on questionable bus bench ads have left him in some pretty… um… compromising positions over the course of the show:

Sheila and Joel, Santa Clarita Diet

In a lot of ways, realty takes a backseat for Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) over the course of Santa Clarita Diet; after all, it can be a little hard to focus on selling homes when you’re already preoccupied with hiding the fact that you’re turning into a zombie.

But there’s one big real estate related mishap on the show that you can’t use a craving for human flesh to explain away: Specifically, how both Sheila and Joel, two professional brokers, pronounce the word “realtor.”

As a few eagle-eyed (eagle-eared?) viewers pointed out on Twitter after the show’s first season dropped on Netflix, the show’s two leads both pronounce realtor like “real-a-ter,” rather than “real-tor.” It’s a crazy little detail in a show full of them.

But even crazier? How the show’s social media team handled complaints about the pronunciation on Twitter; when a few viewers criticized the show for its three-syllable choices, the official Twitter account took to firing back a supercut of every time the word “realtor” was said on the show. Forget drinking blood – the people on that PR team the real cutthroats of Santa Clarita.

The Red Blazer Realty Crew, The Simpsons

The Red Blazer Realty team is the most successful real estate brokerage in the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield, which is particularly surprising when you consider that it’s run by perpetual screw-ups Lionel Hutz (who also moonlights as a flop-sweat coated attorney) and Gil Gunderson (a character modeled after Jack Lemmon’s pathetic real estate pro in Glengarry Glen Ross).

For the most part, Red Blazer is just a background element of The Simpsons, a recurring visual reference in a show full of them. But when Marge gets her real estate license and joins the team for an episode, we get to meet a few of the members of the team, including super-agent Cookie Kwan (number one on the west side!). More importantly, we get a sense of the ethics behind Red Blazer Realty – and they’re the perfect example of everything that real estate agents do wrong.

How bad does it get? At one point, Lionel Hutz sits Marge down to talk about the difference between the truth and “The Truth;” for this team, small houses become “awfully cozy,” dilapidated shacks are just “rustic,” and a house that is literally on fire has a “motivated seller.”

In all, these TV real estate pros represent the best and the worst of what you’ll find when attempting to buy or sell a home. If you’d rather skip the drama and go right to a successful closing, reach out to Real Group! Our talented, experienced – and camera-ready – team would be happy to set you down the right path.

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