Having already conquered the rarefied real estate markets of New York, Los Angeles and Miami, the network will now turn its lens on the high-end properties and outrageous realtors of the Bay Area. It's the latest expansion for "Million Dollar Listing," which has grown into a "Real Housewives"-esque franchise for the NBCUniversal-owned cable network.
According to executive producer Randy Barbato, who appeared at a panel Monday afternoon along with several “Million Dollar Listing” stars, the average sale of a property across the franchise is $4.7 million, and the various versions of the show have portrayed some $740 million in closed transactions. With the move into San Francisco, “Million Dollar Listing” will now have an outpost in four of the top five real-estate markets in the country, Barbato noted. (Rounding out the top five?
Bravo also announced that "Million Dollar Listing New York" has been renewed for a fourth season. The series follows its subjects over the course of a year, something that, according to Barbato, sets it apart.
"It is really unusual in the world of both reality TV and real estate TV to not know what you're going to end up with and spend a year waiting for a call or waiting for a deal to close," he said.
Luis D. Ortiz, a tear-prone subject of the New York series, had his own ideas about why the programs resonate with viewers.
"This show has become much more than just real estate, this show has become a very inspirational show," he said, describing his fellow realtors as "warriors" who "started from the bottom up."
Los Angeles realtor Josh Flagg also addressed his involvement in the sale of Owlwood, the 10-acre Westside estate that once belonged to Sonny and Cher (current asking price: $150 million). Flagg said the sale will not be featured on the series because the current owners are publicity-shy; the estate is not even being marketed on the Multiple Listing Service and is only being shown privately.
"They didn't want any press, so they called up Josh Flagg," joked rival L.A. agent Josh Altman.
All of which begs the question of why super-wealthy clients would want to appear on a reality series. It turns out many of them decline to participate.
"A lot of the older money, the older clientele, still don't see the value in it," Flagg said.
Added Altman, "It's very difficult to get wealthy people on television ... we have to do a lot of business over the year to fill up the episodes."
So what's the appeal for realtors? Naturally, it all comes down to the bottom line.
"Most top agents in America want to be on 'Million Dollar Listings,'" said Barbato, "not because they want to be famous but because they want to sell more listings."