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O.C. real estate gets cutthroat reality treatment

O.C. real estate gets cutthroat reality treatment
Members of the show's McMonigle Team: John McMonigle, left, Hoda Hajirnia and Leo Goldschwartz. (Isabella Vosmikova / Bravo)

Orange County has no shortage of reality television drama.

Now Bravo, the cable network behind "The Real Housewives of Orange County," has a new offering: "Real Estate Wars," which pits two teams of O.C. agents against each other, with liberal doses of backstabbing and client-poaching.

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The show, set against lavish coastal properties shown by trash-talking agents battling for million-dollar commissions, premieres Oct. 5.

Back-from-bankruptcy agent John McMonigle heads one team that has banked a reported $6.1 billion in listings. The rival Relegance Group is powered by the so-called real estate queen of Orange County, Jojo Romeo, the show's wild-card agent who dabbles in healing crystals.

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"Real Estate Wars" is thick with bad blood — thinned somewhat by the McMonigle Team's more sensible Hoda Hajirnia. She recently shared some insights with us.

This show doubles as a battle of the sexes. The four-man McMonigle Team is capped by a sole woman — yourself. The Relegance Group reverse-mirrors that gender split.

I am happy to be surrounded by males; it's just easier. Although I love hair and makeup and looking good … I'm one of the guys, and I roll with that.

The Relegance Group calls John McMonigle a snake and accuses him of poaching clients.

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Who he is today, I don't see that personality trait, but I can't say he wasn't that way before. I have never heard him yell, ever. Nothing gets to this guy. I'm telling you, he's like a — he's a machine.

Machines don't have hearts.

­­He has a big heart. He'll let you in if he genuinely knows who you are. When we moved offices, I was the first one to close a deal there. He made such a big deal about it and mentioned it to everybody and wrote a nice note to me. That was sweet.

The show seems to be a lesson in not taking anything personal — curious, because real estate is so very personal.

In this type of business, you do have to have thick skin. I'm sensitive. A lot of the time emotions get involved. You just gotta learn how to keep them separate.

How does being one of the nicer players jibe with all the ruthless duplicity portrayed in the show?

I'm nice until you really piss me off. I am very passive, and it's actually been working for me. I never push or force my clients into something. I'm the quiet one. I mind my own business and get things done without making a big deal about it.

But Spyro Kemble [a self-described "peacock" with Relegance] knows how to push your buttons.

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I had some issues with Spyro throughout this. He knows how to get under someone's skin, we'll just put it that way. I just told him how I felt.

What is Relegance's greatest weakness?

On the McMonigle Team, you'll never see a client come in and then multiple agents claim that client. The Relegance Group has some competition between the agents themselves.

What are the odds that Relegance will dominate the O.C. real estate market?

Slim to none.

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