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Selling New York Episode 9: The Secret Lives of Brokers

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Every Thursday night, HGTV's Selling New York rides along with boutique brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here, our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner.

Do you ever wonder what our Selling New York brokers do when they're not deep in the trenches of the luxury real estate business? Like, is it truly possible for a broker to have enough time on the beach for their grandkids to complete a sand castle? Or, can a broker broker his way out of NYC and into end o' the summer relaxation? Wonder no more!

Last night's episode was all about the inner workings of the finely-tuned broker. In Story #1, the clock is running out and the CEO of Core, Shaun Osher, finds himself hurrying to nail down the perfect Hamptons rental house for his family vacay. In story #2, we explore the expansion of the Kleier krew as they search for the ideal addition to their talky team. Beautiful beach homes are heavily toured. Charismatic candidates are lightly grilled. Relatives appear on-camera. Pass the antipasta platter, because this week's recap is served up family style!

Our first glimpse into last night's episode begins with Shaun Osher in a chic Core conference room dialing up Hamptons rental agencies. He's looking for a bodacious beach-side house to rent for a yearly vacation with his bro-in-law's fam, and he doesn't want to disappoint. Since he's "the real estate guy", Shaun is tasked with choosing the house, but yeeeps! He's waited to the last second in hopes of getting a better deal on the price. How risky! His budget? A mere $10k a week. Sounds like a sizable sum, but a rental agency tells him he's "light on the price." Knowing selection will be limited this close to Labor Day, Shaun's forehead looks a little furrowed:

But not to despair, because Shaun's lined up a couple beachy-keen properties to look at. Hop on the jitney with the plebes, and let's head to the land of the Great Gatsby! And...we're here. Shaun walks up to a bungalow and is greeted by John, the house handyman. Since the owner isn't around, John leads Shaun around 3000 square feet of viewtastic space, replete with pool and private beach area. At $6k a week, this 4BR, 4BA looks like the ideal spot for Shaun and co. to idle away a week. Let's pretend it's summer together:

Have other would-be renters "prowling in droves" beat him to the punch? Shaun crosses his fingers that the house is still available. Tense moments later we's not. Sadface! Perhaps this next house will prevent Shaun from letting down everyone he loves. He pulls up to a pretty white number set back on a grassy lawn. The price? Negotiable. The owner, Lauren Berger, welcomes Shaun into her 6,000-square-foot 7BR,4.5BA estate. It's an old house, with lots of plates to throw if a fight ensues:

While Shaun finds the space "cozy and warm," its lack of proximity to the beach is a turn-off and will surely lead to family banishment. Lauren forces Shaun to walk the plank for wasting her time:

The next day, Yeva Rintel shows Shaun her sublime beach shack. At $12k a week, it's a little over his budget, but at this point he'll pay anything not to be excommunicated from his family for failing to deliver. We'd all like a week or three at this 4,000-square-foot, 5BR, 6BA beauty:

Yeva explains her philosophy on finding a house to Shaun, telling him "it's like match-making." Shaun's ready to go steady with Yeva('s house), and now just needs to convince his wife, Lauren. A quick "I swear the house is clean and perfect" phone call later, and she's on board! The family arrives to the house and is really bummed. Psych! They love it.

Lauren enthuses "on a scale of 1-10, it's an 11 1/2!" Everyone walks to the beach, preparing for their Osher ocean secret ritual (spoiler! they dip their toes):

We see a softer side of Shaun as he gets all Hallmarky about the importance of family togetherness and how "these are the moments that make life special." One, two, three...awwww. A text box appears informing us that the Oshers had a great holiday, but next year Shaun swears not to leave the rental to the last minute. Yeah, riiiiiiight.


Once upon a time, Mama Michele and her husby Ian frolicked on the beach with some children, who one can only assume are related to them. But in the world of real estate, as daughter Samantha Kleier reminds us, "we never stop working, so a day off is never really a day off." Ring, ring! That's Sam calling her ma from Kleier HQ, telling her she and pops need to return to the city. This is Ian perturbed at having his vacay cut short:

Why? There are two women being interviewed for a broker position. Since it's the family biz, it's a family decision with everyone weighing in. Michele tells Sam she hopes the candidates aren't "losers, like the last four." How's that for a public dis? Back in the office, the Kleiers regroup to get to know contestants, I mean candidates, #1 and #2.

First up is Jessica Endelson Baum. Wearing Kleier-approved black patent peep toes, Jessica wants to transition from a large firm where she "felt lost" to a boutique agency where things are more personal. Michele tosses the resume aside, favoring a more social approach to the interview. After all, "real estate, above all else, is a social situation" Michele explains. Here, Jess laughs on cue, though secretly wonders why Michele's framed photos are all facing outward:

After the chit-chatterview, the Kleier konsensus is that Jess is smart and speaks well. Next in the hot seat is Stephanie Balint, who just got her real estate license. Stephanie gracefully withstands being peppered by Michele, Sam, Sabrina, Sabrina's husband Robert Morgenstern, and Papa Ian:

Did anyone else get the creeps when Ian told Stephanie "you're a virgin when it comes to real estate." Bleechewww. Sam's reaction after the interviews: "We're in trouble," because both ladies have a lot to offer. But aha! Michele has a plan...

...which is to have her friend/client Valerie Feigen go undercover and assess each candidate in a real estate situation. Val has a retail store and employs the same tactics on her unsuspecting newbie salespeople. Mystery Shopper Val arrives at 454 West 54th Street, Griffin Court Condos (not coincidentally, we also just visited), to Sherlock out Jess and Steph's apartment showing skills. But first Kenneth Horn, President of Alchemy Properties, gives Val a laundry list of building amenities (private cabanas, y'all!) that the brokers should be mentioning in their pitches. Is the fact that the units are recently reduced one of them?

Steph is put to the test first as she shows Val around the $1.7 million 2BR, 3BA unit. Admittedly terrified to be showing her first apartment ever, Steph does a good job looking confident, and even has a portfolio of the 1,318-square-foot apartment and the surrounding neighborhood prepared:

Overall, Val is impressed with the research (points!), though Steph is momentarily confused about which bedroom is the master (ooopsies!). Val thinks Steph is "warm and kind", but will Jess jostle her out of the picture?

Bonding instantly over the fact that they both have Havanese dogs, Val and Jess get along like gangbusters:

Though Val suspects that Jess bungled which way the terrace faces, she still feels Jess had "done her homework." Back at Upper East Side's Vico Ristorante, Michele is bursting to hear Val's impression of Jess and Steph, and to ultimately make the decision for her about who gets the coveted spot in the Kleier mishpacha. Val is little help, outlining the minor flaws from the showings and concluding that "both are sweet, charming people who would fit in really well." How will Michele decide on a broker if both are equally equal?

Next we see Jess walking to the 21 Club to meet the Kleiers for dinner! She's excited for the evening, and naturally feels like it's a good sign she got the job. As she's on her way there, lo and behold who do we see at the Kleier table? Steph! Tables are turned!

While Michele's showering Steph with compliments about Val's report, Jess joins them. The two candidates manage to contain their WTFness about the situation. They know there's only one opening, so why are they both there? Manufactured tension alert!

Michele continues to kvell over the "high remarks" Val had for the candidates, who do a stellar job of masking confusion. Finally Papa Ian pipes up, "We're going to take you both on!" Guess the Kleiers didn't have to make a choice after all. Inner sighs of relief for Steph and Jess! Wine is ordered and toasts are made:

A text box pops up telling us that the Kleier family business is growing (no kidding) and has 45 agents. Mazels!

Episode grade: This inside scoop was pure filler and I'm left hungry for some deals, which means 2 out of 5 cackling Kleiers!

· Selling New York coverage [Curbed]

Griffin Court Condominium

800 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY