Real Life Real Estate Lessons from "Selling Sunset"


Heat Level: Mild: These tips are beginner-friendly.

Bottom Line: Everyone's favorite trash TV series "Selling Sunset" is actually packed with lessons on real estate marketing.

Do This: Fast-forward through the drama and focus on the real lessons of this guilty-pleasure Netflix series. Who knows, these lessons might just catapult you to closing $6M listings on the regular.

selling sunset las angeles skylineA few weeks ago, while flipping through Netflix, a new title caught my eye: "Selling Sunset."

I pressed play, thinking it would be an educational and enlightening view into the world of luxury real estate. Oh, was I naive. 

The series follows the Oppenheim Group, a team of agents working in LA. The three-season saga is about as far removed from reality or real estate as you could imagine, instead of dwelling on interpersonal drama, relationships, and gossip. Although I'm not much of a trash-TV person, I was hooked on this surreal series and binge-watched all three seasons with wide eyes.

The agents do occasionally allude to their profession, and I was determined to pull some lessons from beneath the thick coat of petty drama and lipstick. So whether you're interested in furthering your real estate education or sinking into some high school-level drama, "Selling Sunset" has something for everyone. Here's what I learned about real estate marketing from the Oppenheim Group.

You can't wait around for the phone to ring.

So many people enter the industry thinking it's easy money. "Selling Sunset" proves that real estate is a labor of love - emphasis on "labor." Soap opera actress Chrishell scrabbles for listings in the first season as she works to get a foothold in the industry. She's seen driving around looking for new construction and calling the developers. She finally lands a listing by being flexible enough to work in the less-desirable Valley area. But hey, a listing's a listing!

Digital marketing for real estate is the same. You can't just set up a website or Facebook page and expect to start rolling in leads. It's a daily effort that requires care, attention, and energy. If you're looking for more ways to grow your online hustle, check out any of the other articles on The Hot Sheet.

Understand your client, and meet them where they are.

In season 1, newcomer Chrishell snatches a first-time buyer from experienced agent Christine. Chrishell simply explains that having bought her own first home recently, she understands how the buyer feels. The buyer chooses to work with Chrishell because Chrishell spoke her language, whereas Christine came off as intimidating and unapproachable.

Communicating with your audience online is no different. To connect with your ideal clients, develop a website and social media strategy that will resonate with them, and offer them value. Understand their mindset online so you can use your digital ads more effectively. Every buyer is coming from a different place. Dig deep into their motivations and you'll gain their trust (and business). 

Don't let your seller talk you into overpricing.

In season 3, Davina's seller Adnan insists his property should be listed for $80 million. Jason, the broker of the Oppenheim Group, knows that this asking price is essentially double what the property is worth. When D. takes Jason's recommendation back to Adnan, the seller responds, "You should be negotiating with buyers, not me." Davina keeps the extravagant listing price and, unsurprisingly, the house receives no offers. In fact, reports show that the house is still on the market.

Sellers think they know the value of their property, but their valuation is loaded with emotion and pride. YOU are the licensed agent. Trust your gut, and put your foot down. Get your broker to back you up, if necessary. At the end of the day, no one profits from an unsold house, so you owe it to your seller to educate and guide them toward a realistic listing price.

Build and own your brand.

Christine is undeniably the master of personal branding. From her LA-Barbie glamour to her no-holds-barred toughness, a potential client knows exactly what to expect from her: tough-as-nails perfection.

What's going to set you apart? What's going to convince someone to reach out to you instead of any other agent or agency? Develop a unique brand strategy that highlights your unique qualities, and integrate it into all aspects of your marketing. If you can market yourself well, it stands to reason that you'll market your listings well, too.

Bottom Line

More than likely, you've already learned many of these lessons - but they're easy to forget. Take yourself back to the basics, especially when it comes to digital marketing, to make sure your branding and messaging align with what your audience needs. And if nothing else, use "Selling Sunset" as inspiration to get out there, fire up your digital marketing, and crush your real estate goals.

Kate Rekrut self-portrait on Mount Washington
Kate Rekrut is the Director of Marketing and Product Development at Joyce, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Kate's current work with ListingManager bridges the gap between her advertising agency experience and a lifelong passion for HGTV. When she's not skimming the web for new marketing stats, Kate enjoys cooking, crossfit, and dance classes.

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