What happened to San Francisco’s ‘Million Dollar Listing’?

And no one really knows why. Or at least, no one can agree on why.

Casting and timing were the most likely culprits a second season never materialized, even though it was allegedly greenlit for one originally. While their stories didn’t match up even today, stars Justin Fichelson, Andrew Greenwell and Roh Habibi all agreed there was one cast member the network fired — but none would admit it was him. Bravo declined to comment for this article.

Habibi said the replacement real estate agent quit after a few weeks of filming a second season. Greenwell said they found a new agent for the new season but the timing didn’t work out for the network. However, it’s unlikely casting was the only problem, and the decision to cancel the second season permanently probably is attributable to a combination of factors. Each cast member mentioned that San Francisco wasn’t as flashy and drama-filled as its Los Angeles and New York competitors. Buyers and sellers in San Francisco are also much more private. Moreover, the real estate isn’t as flashy and modern as other cities.

Plus, since it was an inaugural season, it was difficult to get clients to agree to put themselves or their properties on TV. By the time talk of the second season began, though, both Fichelson and Habibi said people were lining up to be on the show. 

Greenwell said he was constantly turned down by people he approached. “San Francisco is hard because people are really private,” Greenwell said. “I was doing deals that were really interesting with huge players and they didn’t want to be on television.”

Even with plenty of gorgeous city panoramas, real estate listings from high rises to wineries and even a Kathy Hilton cameo (IYKYK), it didn’t make up for the show’s rough spots. The cast members weren’t at ease in early episodes, family and relationship drama felt manufactured, and the mention of “tech” and “tech people” throughout the season became an almost grating cliche. Greenwell said that type of buyer doesn’t translate as well on TV.

“I could hold an open house and someone could show up in $10 thrift store pants and they could be worth a billion dollars,” Greenwell said. “I just don’t think we had the right group that wanted to be on television.”

There were plenty of moments, in particular, tailor-made to make the local viewer cringe, especially watching nearly eight years later. The complexities and slow timeline of renovating a Victorian. A potential buyer complaining about a giant redwood blocking a home’s city view. An agent who calls Bernal Heights “the hood.” The unanimous praise of Stanley Saitowitz. An attempt to sell a home in St. Francis Wood as anything but sleepy. The moment when Fichelson says the construction is part of what makes the Millennium Tower such a top-tier building. (Though he of course had no idea what would happen in the future.)

Overplayed drama is part and parcel with reality TV, but at least one part appears authentic: The San Francisco cast members did not know each other before the show started filming and they aren’t in touch today. While Greenwell and Fichelson seem cordial, Habibi said he doesn’t get along with either even now. “I didn’t like either one of those guys and I’m sure they didn’t like me,” he said. “It was three alpha personalities trying to be the star of the show. We didn’t get along. We still don’t get along.”

The one thing the three stars unanimously agreed on was how much the show helped their careers. “There is no better way to build your brand than national or international television,” Habibi said. “What would have taken me 20 years to build, I did in one season.”

Habibi later founded the Habibi Group, which currently operates in the Bay Area, Hawaii and Lake Tahoe.

Fichelson said a tech entrepreneur called him up after watching the show’s season and asked him to represent him for a sale. While he wouldn’t reveal who the client was, he said he had founded one of the biggest unicorn companies in SF and he went on to do multiple multimillion dollar real estate deals with the entrepreneur. “It was as if I added several years to my career that weren’t there,” Fichelson said. 

Fichelson, an SF local, now runs the brokerage firm Avenue 8, operating throughout California and New York.

Greenwell, who founded his own real estate brokerage as part of Sotheby’s and sells in the Bay Area and Hawaii, said he met amazing clients because of the show. 

The cast members did agree on one other thing — the fashion on the show wasn’t representative of the city at all. “All the clothes from the show, I haven’t worn them since,” Greenwell said with a laugh. 

Fichelson, often seen at his tailor on the show, concurred, “I never wear ties.”

 What happened to San Franciscos Million Dollar Listing?

Houses in San Francisco overlook the city’s skyline. More homebuyers here were looking to relocate than any other metro in July and August.

Axel Schmies/Getty Images

Eight years later, they don’t get recognized as much as they used to, but it still happens occasionally. Both Fichelson and Greenwell said people often say they look familiar and they can’t quite place them.

Greenwell said he’s thankful social media wasn’t like it is today and thinks he might feel differently if it was. He said the day before the show premiered they all got several threatening notes from an organization that accused the show of assisting in gentrifying the city. He said he stayed in a hotel for several nights as a precaution. 

If there’s one thing that’s definitely not to blame for the show’s demise, it’s the real estate transactions themselves. In a market where all cash, multimillion dollar overbidding wars are normal, there’s plenty of drama to be had. You just won’t see it on TV.

Article source: https://www.sfgate.com/sf-culture/article/million-dollar-listing-sf-failed-17499802.php

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