Reality Shows and Their Impact on the Los Angeles Real Estate Market

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Luxury real estate shows have enjoyed a surge in popularity over the years, captivating audiences with extravagant home makeovers, multimillion-dollar deals, and the drama that unfolds during high-stakes property transactions.

Beyond entertaining audiences, these shows have influenced how typical viewers perceive and approach real estate. By providing a glimpse of what goes on during transactions, from browsing potential homes and negotiating with sellers to living the dream lifestyle, luxury real estate shows serve as informative and entertaining guides to navigating the real estate market.

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With its diverse architecture, picturesque setting, interesting personalities, and impressive luxury homes, Los Angeles has all of the elements needed for a real estate show.

It’s no wonder why so many luxury real estate shows are based right here. One of the most popular shows in recent years is Netflix’s Selling Sunset, which revolves around The Oppenheim Group, a top luxury real estate brokerage based in Los Angeles.

The reality series follows owner and president Jason Oppenheim, his twin brother Brett, and their elite team of agents as they negotiate multi-million deals throughout Los Angeles’ most exclusive neighborhoods.

Creating more exposure for brokerages


Reality shows like Selling Sunset offer a unique opportunity to showcase a real estate agent’s expertise, personality, and unique marketing strategies to a broad audience.

According to Jason Oppenheim, the show helped increase exposure for their brand. “For one season, it has had a considerable impact on our business. We’ve definitely seen more buyers reach out to us who have said they saw the show and like how we do business.”

Following a successful first season, Oppenheim Group capitalized on a booming luxury market by expanding to Orange County and opening a new location in Newport Beach.

A reality show connects brokerages with clients from across the globe, helping a business become a truly international venture. Thanks to Netflix’s global reach, Selling Sunset helped The Oppenheim Group attract clientele from around the world. Mary Fitzgerald, one of the team’s realtor associates, had her hands full entertaining serious international buyers after the first season aired. “They saw the show and contacted us. Now, I’m working on a $9 million deal for them,” she shared in this interview with Forbes.

Peggy Zabakalos, who appeared on Netflix’s Million Dollar Beach House, echoes the same sentiment. She says the show was a great platform that allowed her brand to reach potential clients outside New York City. “I’m able to reach out to not only the United States but the entire world. I wanted to elevate my brand. Now, since doing the show, I have a ‘band’ or ‘family’ all over the world!” she says in this article from Variety.

For real estate agent and Million Dollar Listing Miami star Samantha DeBianchi, the power of television and the visibility it creates is invaluable. Her advice to agents on television? Prepare for the business to come. “Set up that CRM (customer relationship management) system. Get ready to man those phones, because the phone calls will come. The emails will come.”

Risk or reward

Jason Oppenheim, however, shared that while he was excited at the opportunities Selling Sunset could bring to the table before the first season aired, he was worried that it could negatively impact the Oppenheim Group brand’s image. He and his brother Brett had built a stellar reputation over the years, a source for most of the anxiety he felt during development.

They were difficult to deal with initially, he shares in this article. “I’ve got so much to lose. I guess I’m not good at relinquishing control and in this case, obviously, I didn’t have control. I couldn’t micromanage the production.”

It became smooth sailing following a well-received Season 1 in 2019. Jason says doing the show is now more relaxing and enjoyable for him. “At this point, it’s just pure fun, certainly for me.” Season 8 of Selling Sunset is set to air later this year.



A knowledgeable, more engaged clientele

While their main objective is to entertain, real estate-based reality shows also provide a closer look at the intricacies of buying, selling, and renovating properties. They give viewers a deeper understanding of different processes in a real estate transaction, empowering them with valuable insights and encouraging informed decision-making.

The competitive nature of the real estate business is on full display in many real estate shows. The strategies, negotiation tactics, and expertise demonstrated by the agents can serve as a learning experience, equipping viewers with knowledge they can use in actual real estate transactions.

Audiences get a better understanding of what to ask agents and sellers when they’re in the market for a new home. They offer a real-world perspective, giving viewers a glimpse of what happens during the buying or selling process before they experience it firsthand. Real estate shows can be a great source of helpful tips like what to look for in a home, what renovations can increase resale value, and how to avoid offending sellers in case the deal comes down to a bidding war.

By drumming up interest in buying and selling real estate, shedding light on the complexities of a transaction, and promoting a dynamic and more engaged real estate market, real estate shows can positively influence not only the audience but the real estate landscape as a whole.

Reality check

But it should be noted that real estate reality TV is not without its faults.

Critics argue that these shows tend to misrepresent the realities of the real estate industry, attracting audiences by using staged scenarios and sensationalized narratives. The focus on drama often overshadows the technicalities of real estate transactions, which could create unrealistic expectations for clients as well as aspiring professionals.

For example, some shows condense crucial parts of a transaction into a single episode, glossing over a lot of the essential steps and misleading viewers into thinking things progress faster than they do. There are also shows that exaggerate the role of homeowners in the decision-making process, which downplays the extensive involvement of real estate professionals such as realtors, home inspectors, architects, and interior designers.

Balancing entertainment with authenticity

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The key is to strike a balance between entertaining audiences and providing a grounded perspective on the real estate industry. This responsibility falls on the professionals appearing on the shows. They play a crucial role in ensuring there’s authenticity in how their work is portrayed.

While you do need some drama to keep viewers hooked, focusing on the business of real estate helps foster a more informed audience by offering a more nuanced understanding of the complexities and challenges real estate professionals navigate during their careers.



Some reality shows focus solely on home renovation. It’s fascinating to witness a home renovation project as it unfolds. The careful thought put into every design choice, the overall transformation starting to take shape, the solutions to unforeseen challenges, and the look of delight on the homeowners’ faces during the big reveal. It’s no surprise why shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers have captivated audiences, encouraging many to spruce up their own spaces, either by starting a DIY project or hiring a professional.

Cutting corners

While home improvement shows highlight the different possibilities of transforming and improving living spaces, they can convey misconceptions about the process, especially concerning the conception and execution phases.

The shows present interior design and construction as a quick and straightforward process, which is far from reality. There’s a lot that goes on in a major home renovation, and what’s shown in a 30-minute episode might take several months in reality. For example, whenever there’s an unforeseen problem, architects, interior designers, and remodeling contractors don’t always have all of the solutions at their fingertips. It’s common for them to stop the project temporarily so they can take a step back to figure out how to proceed.

Some shows make it seem as though you only have to work with a single person when you’ll need to coordinate with various professionals who all have different skills and responsibilities. This overlooks a key step: team management, which demands extensive effort and meticulous organization.

Another aspect most renovation shows tend to misrepresent is construction costs. Important factors that affect costs like preparation, labor, and materials are usually just briefly touched upon in many home renovation shows. As a result, viewers are left with an incomplete understanding of the financial commitment required for a successful renovation.

Home renovations in reality

Just like luxury real estate shows, careful consideration is needed when portraying important steps of the home renovation process. While they are great sources of ideas and inspiration, they tend to focus only on the exciting and glamorous aspects of renovation. They often skip through many of the intricate steps and just highlight the end product, overlooking the challenges and the decision-making involved in the process.

It’s up to the viewer to know the difference between what’s on screen and what to expect in an actual home renovation. By doing their research and seeking advice from experienced professionals, individuals will be able to approach their home improvement project from a more informed perspective, paving the way to a successful and fulfilling outcome.



While real estate shows are made to entertain viewers, they can offer practical lessons if you’re able to see past the drama and the sensationalized storylines.

With more reality shows centered on real estate than ever before, there are plenty of opportunities to learn something new—always a good thing to have in any form of entertainment.

Don’t limit yourself

Real estate shows highlight the importance of seeing multiple properties. Homebuyers featured in most episodes are usually presented with two or three properties to choose from. Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit yourself to only a handful of options. See as many homes as you need so you can find the right one.

Go visit a home even if it doesn’t check most of your boxes. At the very least, it’ll help you fine-tune your search and narrow down your deal-breakers and must-haves.

Know how to look for potential in every home

How often have you seen buyers on TV shows nitpicking tacky design choices like kitschy wallpaper patterns or mismatched furniture sets? It’s one of those traps many homebuyers fall into: getting too caught up in certain elements that can easily be changed.

Many shows advise viewers to completely ignore the home’s décor, which is always a helpful tip to keep in mind. You can always redecorate any home to suit your personal style.

Real estate shows demonstrate how you can look past a home’s present state and see its potential. By considering potential upgrades and renovations you can implement after purchase, you’ll be able to gain insight into how you can get your dream home even with a limited budget. Shows like House Hunters often feature buyers who purchase properties below their budget and renovate them to match their unique needs and preferences.

Every deal comes with challenges

In real estate, there’s no such thing as a quick and easy deal. Challenges are lurking in every phase.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, how you navigate these obstacles will determine the success of your endeavors. Not everything will be a major problem, but you need to watch out for critical junctures at every step of the process. In most situations, you’ll need to make quick decisions.

You want to have a good team on your side

You can get a closer look at how a team of real estate professionals works cohesively to fulfill the goals of clients.

You can see how a real estate agent’s market expertise comes into play when they’re helping a client navigate the market. The agent will consult contractors and other professionals in their network to get a better understanding of what type of repairs are needed before helping the client make an offer. From there, they’ll work with several subcontractors to transform the property into a home that matches the client’s lifestyle.

Although they may not see eye to eye at times (often an opportunity to present conflict in many shows), you can get a sense of how various professionals work together while sharing a common goal.


While real estate shows may present an idealized version of what goes on in a real estate transaction, there’s no denying that they generate interest and create more engagement in the real estate industry by offering an entertaining look at buying, selling, and renovating homes.

For Los Angeles’ real estate market, the numerous luxury real estate shows featuring the city have become very effective marketing tools, with viewers from all over the world getting a glimpse of the ultra-luxurious residences and the glamorous lifestyle associated with them.

Joyce Rey
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