Selling Sunset: Reality Shows vs. Real Life Real Estate

Dated: September 14 2020

Views: 1109


Selling Sunset offers a tantalizing glimpse into the high-stakes world of Southern California real estate. Throughout three seasons of the Netflix reality show, we have watched the Oppenheim Group’s team of elite agents pursue wealthy clients and hustle for huge commissions (like the one for that $40M Hillside Avenue home). In addition to all the glitz and glamour--and let’s face it, bucketloads of drama--the show provides many practical insights into the Real Estate industry.

Besides revealing the significance of marketing and staging, the show has introduced viewers to terms like "pocket sale." We spoke with Bosley Agent Corinne McCabe for her take on these industry facets.


On Selling Sunset, agent Heather Young overcomes a staging fiasco to sell a house for $5.4M. “It can be expensive to stage a home," says McCabe. “I spend maybe 3K on a small condo and 6K on a larger one.” She also stresses the need for quality staging, saying that the opposite is detrimental to a sale. “Buyers these days have a tough time looking past the fluff.” 

Most of the marketing costs associated with selling a house go directly into the staging. “I have to cover the staging costs to stay competitive with the other Realtors in the east end where I work,” McCabe says. “After that, agents often pay for the pre-listing home inspection, photos, tours, floor plans, cleaning, and more. Only then do you market the homes through feature sheets and online or print ads.”

“High marketing costs don’t typically deter Agents from representing a property, however,” says McCabe. “Not the good ones, anyway! The successful Agents see this as simply the cost of doing business. If you do a great job selling a home, then ideally, you would help the client(s) with the purchase as well if you haven’t already.” McCabe adds that she has never seen a Selling Agent split the cost of marketing the house once sold with a Buyers Agent, contrary to what Selling Sunset may depict. 

“A listing agent’s job is to market the home to the best of their abilities and sell it for the highest price possible, which is why a Seller would hire you as a real estate agent,” McCabe says. “To ask a Buyer’s agent to split that cost is just so wrong on so many levels. No one would ask a bartender to split the cost of a drink at the bar! Okay, maybe not the same, but you get my point.”


While their tactics may not be as ostentatious as Christine’s “Botox and Burgers
event, Bosley Agents must get creative when optimizing and managing marketing costs. “I always blast every new listing online to as many outlets as possible,” says McCabe, adding, “Facebook has always been a great tool for me as most of my target demographic is on there. I’ve even sold a house in Riverdale because of Facebook - some buyers saw it there first and contacted their Realtor to see it right away and submit a bully offer.” 


On the topic of bully offers, who could forget the season three arc featuring Davina’s failed pocket sale for the $75M Coldwater Canyon home! McCabe says that pocket sales, or homes that sell before hitting the market, are best for sellers with properties that do not look like the ones featured in home decor magazines. “These are homes with too much clutter, which are too dirty or difficult to show, or ones the sellers simply do not want to stage.” In the case of the $75M Coldwater Canyon Property, this house is the opposite of difficult to show because of clutter, and more on the side of difficult to show because it is so very expensive. 


It is an understatement to say the agents on Selling Sunset are competitive, but selling a listing to another agent within the same office provides some notable advantages. “Typically, I know the other agents pretty well,” says McCabe, “So it’s much easier to read their poker faces rather than face an unknown opponent.” She adds, “While other Realtors who are not in the same brokerage may feel they are at a disadvantage, money talks, and will ultimately be the deciding factor.”  

While the commissions on the homes featured in the show are staggeringly high, that is not to say the agents get the full amount as take-home pay. “For example,” says McCabe, “if a commission on a house is $75K, after giving the buyer agent half of the total 5% commission, and then subtracting costs for staging, photos, inspection, cleaning, marketing, signage, brokerage split, and taxes, you would take home about $16K.” 

Emotions run high on Selling Sunset, and that is not even taking into account the emotional investment of buying a home. “At the end of the day,” says McCabe, “it’s most often emotions that make a Buyer put pen to paper. Unless you're dealing with a builder or developer, then it’s all a logic and a numbers game.” So what’s more effective: logic or emotion? “You’ve got to use both,” says McCabe, “And everything else you can think of, all the time.” That's the Bosley difference. 

Corinne McCabe, Broker
Cell 416-888-9842   

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