It can be hard to find a really good real estate agent who will fight tooth and nail to get you the best deal and genuinely wants to get you into a good home and isn’t just chasing their commission. It’s also hard to find one who is truthful about the properties that they represent and won’t lie or bend the truth in order to persuade you to buy a house or rent an apartment that no one in their right mind would. Sadly, the best real estate agents exist only as characters in movies and television. Here are the 10 best!
10. Jim Evers
The Eddie Murphy horror comedy The Haunted Mansion was panned by critics for its lack of both horror and comedy, but it was a box office success with a worldwide gross of over $182 million on a budget of half that. Plus, Murphy’s character in the movie, Jim Evers, is a great real estate agent, which is kind of the silver lining of the movie. Jim is a workaholic, and his dedication to his job and his commitment to meeting every need of his clients often comes at the cost of his time with his family. He will be late to a dinner with the family or book a summer vacation around an open house or a property visit just to advance his career and please his clients. The movie isn’t great, but it is notable for being the first movie with profanity to ever air on the Disney Channel. The network executives usually only allow the words “hell” or “damn” to air, very occasionally, because they come from a corporation with very conservative values, like Christianity and the nuclear family and all that. But in a landmark moment for the Disney Channel, they allowed the line “Big ass termites!” to appear on their airwaves.
9. Reba Hart
In the first couple of seasons of The WB (and later The CW) show Reba, a sitcom led by a strong female character, the title character of Reba Hart was a secretary. To be honest, making her a secretary was a little cliched and insulting, so it was a smart move by the writers to give her a job selling houses as a realtor. She always has the perfect wisecracky remark for any given situation and that would make her a joy to be around. Well, actually, it might get a little annoying in large doses – but if she was only your real estate agent, then you would only see her in short bursts and then it would be delightful. The show was sadly cancelled after six seasons, and 20th Century Fox TV boss Gary Newman blames the network. He said that The WB’s scheduling and marketing of the show led to its failure, and that on a network like CBS or ABC, the show would’ve been a big success. We’ll never know whether or not that’s true, but we do know that the title character will always be one of the best darn fictional realtors ever to hit the small screen.
8. Julianna Skiff
Actress Julianna Margulies nearly turned down the role of the realtor character Julianna Skiff on The Sopranos. You might think that any actor who was given the opportunity to work on David Chase’s hit mafia drama on HBO would jump at the chance to get involved. It is considered by most critics to be the greatest television series ever made, and for everyone else, it’s definitely up there. The actress explained, “Her name was Julianna, and she was from Rockland County, which is where I was born.” So, from the off, as she was reading the script, she could see herself in this character. But then as she kept “reading and reading,” it got progressively darker and more depraved: “Suddenly [in the script] I’m in a bra and panties, doing heroin, and then I vomit. I was like: ‘That’s gross. I’m not doing that. This is crazy.’” But then she called up her friend, actor Griffin Dunne, and he changed her mind. She said that Dunne is “one of my favorite people on the planet. He’s produced, directed, written – I needed someone’s opinion who’s been there and done that. And he goes, ‘Don’t be a fucking idiot. Of course you’re doing it.’” And then she signed up.
7. Carolyn Burnham
It would’ve been easy for Alan Ball to write his screenplay for American Beauty riddled with clichés. He was painting a portrait of the suburban life in Anytown, USA, so it would be easy to make a movie where the husband is a bored office drone, the daughter is a rebellious, moody teenager, and the wife is a stay at home mom and homemaker. And while the first two are the characters that appear in the film, the wife is much more complex than that. She is a homemaker and she does cook her family a meal every night of the week and she does maintain a perfect, pristine garden. But she also has a very exciting career as a real estate agent and she’s just as committed to that as she is to her family – maybe even more so. Annette Bening, who was sadly snubbed for an Oscar for her fantastic performance as Carolyn, based how she played the character in the film on the women she could remember from the neighborhood where she grew up in a similar environment to the setting of the story. She said, “I used to babysit constantly. You’d go to church and see how people present themselves on the outside, and then be inside their house and see the difference.”
6. Lindsey Naegle
Lindsey Naegle is the resident hotshot real estate agent in Springfield. If you’re looking for a house or an apartment or a condo or any kind of living space, then she’s your gal. Give her a call. She doesn’t have any kids, so she’s available to show you places at any given time and she’s also a lot happier and cheerier than you would expect. The fact that she doesn’t have any kids makes up a huge part of her character, actually. She formed an anti-youth group called SSCCATAGAPP (a very, very long acronym that stands for “Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays Against Parasitic Parents”). Her motto for this organization is: “Children are the future. Today belongs to me!” She’s very dedicated to her lifestyle as a single woman who no kids and no husband and no responsibilities beyond – and that has done wonders for her career. She’s thrown herself into her work and come out as one of the best. Thanks to not having kids, she has been able to dedicate more time and effort to building herself a career in the real estate game – and that makes her a hell of a real estate agent.
5. Ricky Roma
In both the play by David Mamet and the film adaptation directed by James Foley, the Glengarry Glen Ross character Ricky Roma is held in high regard around the office as the “top closer” for the company. In the movie, he was played brilliantly by the living legend Al Pacino, who was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for his performance in the film. Mamet described the characterization of Ricky Roma as “following in the steps” of the masterful Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman. Joe Mantegna, who played Ricky Roma on stage in Chicago, summed up who the character is around the office and as a professional perfectly in just a couple of sentences: “When I walked on that stage, my feeling was: I am that matador. And I’m gonna kill every bull that comes into the arena.” He has been described as “the salesman’s salesman, a shark in a shark skin suit.” In his praise of Pacino’s performance, film critic Roger Ebert wrote, “Any kid can play a war hero. But it takes a real man to play a busted-down real estate salesman.”
4. Sheila and Joel Hammond
When Santa Clarita Diet was first announced by Netflix, they described it very cryptically as a comedy about a suburban wife whose life is changed when she adopts a new diet, so not a lot of people were all that excited for it. Let’s face it, a middle class mom who starts a new diet doesn’t sound like very intriguing television. But then right before the show came out, they revealed what that diet was: people! This was going to be a show in which Drew Barrymore played a cannibal, so it was instantly an awful lot more excitement. Barrymore makes for a very lovable lead alongside Timothy Olyphant, who plays her character Sheila’s husband Joel. Sheila and Joel work together as a pair of real estate agents and they’re dedicated to finding the right home for their clients or getting the best deal for their clients who are trying to sell their houses. Sure, sometimes they might use your house to kill people and then feast on their remains, but they will at least cover up the walls and the furniture with plastic sheets before they do it. They wouldn’t do anything to devalue your property in any way.
3. Hugh Honey and Vic Vinegar
“Hi, I’m Hugh Honey. This is my partner Vic Vinegar. We’re partners in real estate and partners in life.” The gang in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have tried out a whole bunch of different professions over the years. They’ve been cola executives and documentary filmmakers and they’ve made merchandise for Paddy’s and started their own fitness supplement drink called Fight Milk and they’ve sold knives and vacuum cleaners door to door. In one episode, which was fittingly titled “The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis,” Dennis and Mac adopt the real estate agent personas of Hugh Honey and Vic Vinegar, respectively, in order to flip houses that people had been evicted from as a result of the banks screwing things up. You must’ve heard of the good cop/bad cop routine that police officers have used for years in their negotiation tactics, but Mac and Dennis are surely the first people to ever use a good realtor/bad realtor routine to sell a house. But they make it work. Dennis charms them and then, if they don’t make an offer, Mac gets really intense and intimidates them until they do. It’s a fool-proof way to sell a house! It’s probably not entirely legal, but it is effective.
2. Evelyn Harper
Evelyn Harper, the matriarch from the hit CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, is a terrible mother and a vindictive human being, but she’s a hell of a realtor. She is more committed to her clients than she is to her own sons. Her terrific skills as a real estate agent juxtaposed with her poor skills as a mother summed up perfectly. She told her son, “Charlie, I need to borrow your Mercedes.” And Charlie, very characteristically, told her, “Well, since you’re in a hurry, I’ll give you a quick answer: no.” And she said, “Charlie, please, I’m showing a house in half an hour.” Charlie asks her, “What’s wrong with that little electric car you bought?” And Evelyn, with her client in mind, said, “Oh, nothing! Well, it’s fine, it’s hip, it’s what anyone who cares about this planet is driving. But if you’re trying to sell real estate to a Saudi oil prince, you can’t be driving up in some little toy car with a plug in the bumper.” Alan kindly offered, “Um, you could use my car, Mom.” Evelyn said to Charlie, “You see? Now, that is how a loving son treats his mother,” and then to Alan, she said, “Thank you, sweetheart, but I need to look successful.”
1. Phil Dunphy
There are very few real estate agents who are as passionate about their work or as dedicated to their clients as Phil Dunphy is. Real estate agents aren’t the same thing as police officers or doctors, so they don’t have to swear themselves to an oath when they first take the job. Instead, Phil has written his own oath and sworn himself to that: “On my honor, I promise to aid in Man’s quest for shelter; to recognize I’m not just in the business of houses, I’m in the business of dreams in the shape of houses; to disclose all illegal additions, shoddy construction, murders, and ghosts; and to put my client’s needs before my own.” You’d be hard pressed to find yourself a real estate agent in real life who would commit himself to keeping those promises in his professional life. In the sales world, there is a well known term that salespeople need to stick to, and that is “Always Be Closing,” or “The ABC of Sales.” Well, Phil Dunphy has his own extended version that he calls “The ABCs of Real Estate,” which covers the entire alphabet: “Always Be Closing, Don’t Ever Forget Great Home Ideas Just Keep Lurking, Mostly Nearby. Often People Question Realtors’ Sincerity, Take Umbrage, Violators Will…Ah, I always forget X.”