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Ask Adam: ‘Million Dollar Listing’ vs. Real Life

Editor’s Note: This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

How similar is the TV show Million Dollar Listing to real estate in Arlington?

Probably not that much more similar than your life is to the Real Housewives franchise. The shows are crafted for entertainment, featuring plenty of showboating and drama.

My favorite scenes are the face to face negotiations. They’re a great way to breed drama. In contrast, almost every real estate offer in Arlington is presented over the phone and then transmitted via email. I’ve only ever had one agent deliver an offer in person, but the negotiation had already taken place.

What’s also interesting is that they negotiate verbally without anything in writing. As a listing agent, you’re not going to get me to present anything to a seller without all the terms written out and signed by the buyer. There’s way too much that could go wrong and there are a lot more variables involved than price.

The broker open houses are much more fabulous on TV. The nicer broker open houses in Arlington usually consist of a catered lunch and maybe a drawing for a $50 gift card. In reality they are probably just as effective as the lavish events you have seen in Million Dollar Listing. In my opinion, brokers opens are as much about educating the realtor community about a home as they are about creating buzz. Education is especially important with some of the high performance green homes being built.

One practice some of us share in common with the agents on TV is staging . I’m sure this sounds like a waste of money to some of you, but I can tell you from experience that how a home shows goes a long way towards how it sells. According to the staging company I use, 94.9% of their staged homes sell in 45 days or less.

Though the guys on TV drive around in Porsches, wear $25,000 watches and strut around town in Gucci loafers, this is not how we roll in Arlington. Maybe there is a little of that in Great Falls, but I don’t see it around here. I should point out that far less than 1% of realtors earn the level of income that these guys on TV are making. According to 12 Most Overrated Jobs, the average annual income of a realtor is $40,357. That’s a respectable income, but it doesn’t get you far in Arlington and it sure doesn’t look anything like the $594,000 commission I just saw Ryan earn on Million Dollar Listing New York.

So how many million dollar listings actually sell in Arlington? Thus far in 2012, 63 homes have sold for $1,000,000 or more. The two most expensive homes sold in Arlington this year, went for $3,100,000 and $4,200,000. The latter is a penthouse condo at Turnberry Towers.

I have to give Bravo TV a lot of credit. If they can make real estate look cool or at least entertaining, then they are good at what they do. Today I had a walkthrough, closing, home inspection to negotiate and emails to respond to leading up to writing this article. Trust me, it had very low entertainment value.

Continue to send your real estate-related questions to: [email protected]

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