July 28, 2023
Glitzy reality shows such as Selling Sunset and Million Dollar Listing have introduced viewers to the world of eye-popping US property porn, and the delicious catfights between its glamorous agents.
Now British TV is entering the fray with a more down-to-earth proposition. On BBC2's Crazy Rich Agents we meet wannabe British property brokers (the preferred term to 'estate agents') so desperate to enter this lucrative market they're willing to work for no salary.
They've joined Nest Seekers International, the US property company that features in Selling Sunset, to work in the UK just for the commission they earn on the luxury homes they sell.
'This is a warts-and-all show,' says Daniel McPeake, managing director of Nest Seekers' UK operation. 'They're not living in £2m houses and wearing designer gear. That only happens to a select few. These are real brokers.'
Typical commission for selling prime UK property is 3 per cent, with brokers on a percentage cut from Nest Seekers. So if new broker Aly Hamdan manages to sell £30m Culross House in London's Mayfair, he'll earn more than £250,000.
But the brokers must find a way to network with the super-rich first.
Fledgling broker Krishan 'Krish' Mistry, 22, is a former building society worker and a born hustler. Two years ago he used unusual tactics to land his first big listing, the Leicestershire mansion of brewery entrepreneur Nirad Solanki.
'I climbed over the gate and door-knocked him,' explains Krish. 'At first he was thinking, "How desperate can this guy be, climbing over my gate?" But we got to know each other and then I sold his house.'
To land clients in The Bishops Avenue in London's Hampstead – aka Billionaires' Row – Krish visits a fitness class to meet wealthy locals, and lands a listing to sell a posh flat that could earn him £40,000 commission.
'Krishan is great at thinking outside the box,' says Daniel. 'Other brokers have too much ego.'
Georgie June, 25, from Sussex, gave up a career in social care to join Nest Seekers.
'Mum died when we were babies,' says Georgie, who has a twin brother. 'She's a big part of the reason I've gone into this because she wanted to get into real estate.'
But like all the newbies, Georgie makes mistakes. When another broker she hopes to sell a £15m home with (and split the commission) asks her how she would vet potential buyers, Georgie fumbles her answer.
'I'd have liked to have been a bit more prepared for that,' she concedes.
When the newcomers fail to clinch deals, the strain begins to show and at least one quits on the brink of success.
'I struggled to make sense of that,' says Daniel. 'It's like they're about to take a penalty in the World Cup and they go home. That's my biggest regret.'
The potential reward is huge, however. One lucky broker will be sent to Nest Seekers' New York HQ for three months to be mentored and share some high-end listings.
And Georgie's hoping it will be her. 'It's exciting, because it's down to you how high and fast you climb the ladder,' she explains.
'Financially it can be difficult though. The clock is ticking on the Bank of Georgie.'
Crazy Rich Agents starts on Sunday 6 August, 9pm, BBC2; all episodes available on iPlayer the same day.