Article: 5 Favorite Fictional Real Estate Agents

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Our Five Favorite Fictional Real Estate Agents

Let’s take a walk on the lighter side this week, shall we? As real estate professionals, we all know there is a certain… stereotype… of our industry when it comes to popular culture. At best, agents are portrayed as bizarrely chipper sales folks, eager to please and nice to the point of annoyance. At worst, we come across as opportunistic, materialistic or conniving, chasing the almighty dollar at all costs. And then there are the “reality” shows (which may not be any more “real” than the scripted shows or films), which don’t do most of us any favors, either.

Not exactly flattering, right? It’s okay. There’s a long list of distinguished professions that have had their industry raked over the coals by Hollywood (Seriously: There are shows demonizing attorneys, politicians and Popes… yet somehow meth-cooking chemistry teacher gets hero status?). Our job here today is to honor our favorites of this fictional bunch. Not all of these parts are necessarily flattering, but they’re all entertaining. And at the end of the day, we’ll take that.

5. Peggy Hill, King of the Hill

Peggy Hill

The matriarch of Arlen, Texas’s Hill clan had a number of jobs in the show’s 13 seasons, the final one of which is real estate agent. Peggy’s earnest zeal, minimal attention to superficial details and the fact that she’s bilingual probably play well on the Texas plains. Also, we suspect she’s one who is able to find that work-family balance and still approach bread-winner status in the household. After all, that Alamo beer won’t buy itself.


4. George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey

So this one is a bit of a stretch, but among George Bailey’s many contributions to the town of Bedford Falls via Bailey Building & Loan were his low-interest home loans, which reshaped the town and its middle-class. The move does little for George’s bottom-line, but grows his influence and esteem in the town. The evil Mr. Potter doesn’t share George’s humanistic approach to real estate but in the end, kindness wins.  Watch a key exchange between Bailey and Potter here.


3. Edie Britt, Desperate Housewives
Edie Britt
Airing as it did at the beginning of the peak of “prestige TV” (Lost, Deadwood, The Sopranos and The Wire were all going strong), the soapy but sharp Desperate Housewives doesn’t get the critical cred it deserves. Ditto Edie Britt, the “fifth Beatle” of sorts who plays the foil to the four title characters and – lo and behold – becomes a darn compelling character herself. Edie’s… shall we say, flexible… moral values may not paint the most flattering image of the typical suburban real estate agent, but her self-sufficiency and sharp wit were welcome relief from watching Felicity Huffman yell at her kids.
 2. Carolyn Burnham, American Beauty
Carolyn Burnham
 Our first glimpse of Carolyn Burnham: Realtor (played by Annette Benning in an Oscar-nominated role) is her shimmying out of a dress and dusting, vacuuming and cleaning up for an open house in her shift, chanting “I will sell this house today.” Check it out.
Her spirit and work ethic are admirable but, unfortunately, Carolyn just isn’t much of a real estate agent. To cope, she begins having no-tell motel rendezvous with her professional ideal, The King of Real Estate, Buddy Kane (deliciously played by Peter Gallagher). The scenes have little to do with the actual business and more to do with the image of it. Carolyn’s mantra: “In order to be successful, one has to project the image of success at all times.” Hopefully that works out better for you than for CB.
1. Shelley Levene, Glengarry Glen Ross
Shelley Levene
 Alec Baldwin’s speechifying Blake and Kevin Spacey’s smarmy John Williamson get most of the notoriety for this film, but Jack Lemmon – in one of his final non-Grumpy Old Men-type roles – flexes his legend status as a struggling real estate agent facing some tough moral choices in James Foley’s film (which also stars Ed Harris, Al Pacino and Alan Arkin). While highly dramatized here, there are always shades of gray in real estate – or any business – and the decisions we make reflect not only on ourselves, but on our businesses.
And seriously, watch this film, if only for Baldwin’s famous selling speech. Always. Be. Closing.