New TV Show Promotes Positive Industry Image

Real-life salespeople are the heroes of a new homebuying series on the Discovery Channel.

December 1, 2003

The Discovery Channel’s new show “Double Agents” gives viewers a "fly-on-the-wall" look at the homebuying process. In contrast to other media depictions, the show promotes using real estate professionals to find a home.

"Real estate is it," says Gaynelle Evans, the show’s executive producer. "And our theme is 'Entertain your brain.' This series allows people to take a peek at all kinds of real estate and see themselves through the lens of buyers and their needs, as served by real estate salespeople."

Aired weekdays at 4 p.m. EST, “Double Agents” records what happens when a buyer unit (singles, couples, or families) meets with two salespeople from the same brokerage firm. Both salespeople listen to the buyer's needs, but do they hear the buyer the same way? That's the fun of the show—how salespeople use their different personalities, experience, market knowledge, and creativity to get results.

Every half-hour show features a new buyer, from horse farm operators who lost their lease to a gay couple trying to find a home in the seller's market of the Washington D.C. area.

The salespeople, chosen from local brokerage firms, know that they will be teaming on behalf of the buyer. However, the show stays out of their pocketbooks and lets the natural course of compensation be worked out between the buyers and brokers.

Neither the salespeople’s competition nor compensation is the show’s focus, explains series producer Ben Uhm. "It isn't contrived reality," he says. "It is about the process of buying a house or condo, and we utilize natural pairings of salespeople. One might have good local knowledge; another might have good people skills. The two salespeople aren't always partners, but they are from the same office."

Some salespeople might be husband and wife, or father-daughters, but they always know that they’re working for the buyer.

Watching two personalities race off to find the buyer a home is the stuff of fascination. One salesperson might suggest something completely different from what buyers think they want—such as building a home instead of buying an older property or trying a condo instead of a single-family property. One salesperson might show the home that least meets the buyer's criteria first, while the other shows the "best" home first.

"It is amazing how two salespeople bring out different sides and needs of buyers," marvels Evans.

What the Show Could Mean for Real Estate Professionals

In contrast to the less-than-positive way some media depicts real estate salespeople and the industry, “Double Agents” signals a refreshing change. The real estate professionals are the real heroes of the show. Every show will feature an important buying tip, says Evans. But none is more important than the powerful visual of watching a real estate professional in action on behalf of a customer.

Some practitioners may worry that the show could encourage buyers to use multiple salespeople. "We do make it clear this is an exception," Evans says. "It's not about competition, but we recognized that different personalities react differently, and that is the fun part. The buyer is fully aware he or she is working with two salespeople, and both salespeople are aware of each other."

"With any new program, there is a fear of the unknown,” adds Uhm. With the real estate industry, there has been a lot of cooperation from salespeople, and until they see the show, they won't know what it is about. It's not an adversarial series where the winner takes all. Having two salespeople allows us to simply cover more territory. If a deal comes through, it is a shared glory."

What the Test Audiences Say

Test audiences have told the producers that they don't care which salesperson finds the home for the buyer. The happy ending they want is for the buyer to buy a property.

"The viewer gets to experience the process through the buyer's eyes," says Uhm. "They can see how hard real estate professionals work. Most buyers see about 10 houses over seven weeks before they buy, but we have found that the salespeople who show the left field inspire the buyer. The homebuyer learns a lot about himself."

"It is a lot of drama, and we are giving information as well as entertainment," says Evans.

Test audiences also have told the producers that they like the reality of the show, even if it is far from a typical reality show.

"Reality is what happens in real life," explains Uhm. "It's real people doing real things. We showed it to test audiences, and it was fresh, different, because it is natural."

Does every show end with the buyer closing the deal on the home of his/her dreams?

"Sometimes buyers change their minds, and decide to save a little longer, or relocate," explains Ulm. “That's real life."

(c) Copyright 2003 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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