Don’t worry – You can still watch real estate movies just for fun. Not everything has to be a learning opportunity. Agents tend to have such busy schedules that sometimes the best thing you can do to avoid burnout is watch a movie.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with learning a little something while you’re being entertained, right? If it makes you feel better, take this as permission to spend some guilt-free hours on the couch in front of your TV. After all, doing two things at once – learning and relaxing – is making efficient use of your time. It’s a win-win.

Too busy to watch and learn? That’s okay because here’s a cheat sheet that offers a quick introduction to five noteworthy real estate movies. (Spoiler alert!) And after each rundown you’ll find a short-and-sweet takeaway to help you generate leads.

Let’s get started.

1. “Glengarry Glen Ross”

The Basic Gist:

“Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992) is one of the most iconic real estate movies of all time. It features an all-star cast, including Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, and Alan Arkin. The story revolves around a group of struggling agents who are trying to sell undesirable properties and will stop at nothing to achieve success.

You’ll hear some lines that have become classic real estate quotables (such as “Always be closing” and “Coffee’s for closers”). But warning: You’ll also hear some intense and even profane dialogue. So this probably isn’t the best option if you’re planning on snuggling up with the kiddos for family movie night.

The Lesson for Agents: Every Lead Is a Closing Waiting To Happen

Blake (Alec Baldwin) tells us there are no “weak” leads – only weak agents.

Easy for a movie star to say, right?

Of course, this statement may not be entirely true in real life. But there is an important lesson to be learned here: Every lead presents you with an opportunity to close. Even if the “weak” leads you get appear as if they will never result in a commission check won’t, treat the relationship as an opportunity nonetheless.

So how can you “always be closing”? In the movie, Blake suggests the “AIDA” formula (attention, interest, desire, action). There may be some value in that approach to selling homes.

But Blake should’ve also explained the fundamentals of lead follow-up and mentioned the importance of crafting a real estate marketing plan that results in more closings.

(To think of the misery that could’ve been avoided if only these agents knew about Market Leader’s leads products which provide agents with a steady stream of exclusive buyer and seller leads each month!)

2. “The Big Short”

The Basic Gist:

There are several real estate movies that recount the 2008 housing market bubble and crash. But none are quite as memorable as “The Big Short” (2015), a film based on the book of the same name. Like “Glengarry,” it features a stunning cast of A-list actors, including Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.

It tells the story of those who saw the crisis coming and made a fortune by betting against it (or at least pretending to). Along the way, it somehow manages to explain extremely complex real estate and financial concepts in a way that’s both accessible and entertaining. In that sense, it’s one of the few movies about real estate.

The Lesson for Agents: Help Leads & Clients Understand the Housing Market

“The Big Short” exposes the underlying corruption and deception that, in part, made the 2008 housing crisis what it was. It shows how consumers were duped into buying homes they couldn’t afford by taking on exotic or subprime loans. Some were misinformed. Others were unaware.

So among other lessons we can find here, this second real estate movie underscores how important it is for agents to provide accurate housing market information for their leads and clients.

If “Glengarry” gets us thinking about leads as potential transactions, “The Big Short” gets us thinking about leads as people.

Helping your clients understand the real estate industry and how the financial side of buying and selling works is good for them because it helps them to avoid financial ruin. But it’s also good for you because it’s a great way to build trust, establish credibility, and demonstrate your expertise.

How can you set them up for success and keep them informed?

  • offer comprehensive CMAs so they can make informed pricing decisions
  • dedicate a page or blog on your real estate website to housing market information
  • create infographics about the buying or selling process
  • send your clients to the best banks, loan officers, and mortgage experts

3. “The Money Pit”

The Basic Gist:

Even though it’s a sad and frustrating story, “The Money Pit” (1986) is perhaps the funniest of all real estate movies. It’s about a young couple, played by Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, who think they’ve found their dream home. It’s a beautiful mansion. But soon after they move in, they quickly realize that it’s a complete disaster. The house needs so much work that it ends up being a never-ending project and a huge financial burden.

The Lesson for Agents: Protect Buyers (For Your Sake & Theirs)

It’s one thing to buy a fixer-upper with dreams of transforming it into the perfect home. But to buy a fixer-upper without realizing it… that’s a nightmare.

“The Money Pit” presents a twofold lesson for real estate agents.

First, help your buyers avoid a disastrous situation. How?

  • Make sure they get their home thoroughly inspected by qualified experts.
  • When it comes to researching the home, go above and beyond. Learn everything you can about the home’s condition. Dig deep into the home’s transaction history. Track down any building permits that have been pulled. Inspect the property yourself to see if you can spot any obvious issues or “red flags”. Learn about the neighbors and the surrounding area.

Second, avoid a “money pit” situation so your own reputation doesn’t get tarnished.

Yes, you should “always be closing,” but not at the cost of your long-term career. Ultimately, you want to be known as the expert real estate agent in your area, not as the shady salesperson who’s out to make a buck.

So don’t forget the long game, so to speak. Focus on building strong relationships with your leads and clients so that they keep returning to you for more business.

Perhaps if the inept broker in “The Money Pit” had understood real estate farming best practices, everyone might have been better off.

4. “I Love You Man”

The Basic Gist:

“I Love You Man” (2009) is a comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Rudd plays Peter Klaven, a successful real estate agent who’s about to get married. After realizing his need for male friendships, he goes on a series of “man dates” to find a new best friend who can be the best man at his upcoming wedding.

Eventually he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) and the two become friends instantly. That solves one problem but creates a new one: as this newfound friendship develops, it puts a strain on the relationship Peter has with his fiancée.

The Lesson for Agents: Make the Most of Your Open Houses

Peter and Sydney’s serendipitous friendship starts at an open house. And to borrow Sydney’s word for it, the open house was “classy.” In other words, Peter nailed it.

For example, here are two best practices Peter demonstrated at his open house.

  • Provide a nice spread of delicious food. Notice that Peter didn’t throw down a boring cheese plate and call it good. He took the time and energy to offer little sandwiches with sun-dried tomato aioli that were, for Sydney at least, “a revelation.”Open houses are important for lead generation. And believe it or not, the finger foods you provide can be an important part of that. They can help you stand out as a memorable agent who goes the extra mile to provide excellent service.
  • Also, have your business card ready. As we see in “I Love You, Man,” you never know who you’re going to meet. So be prepared and have a firm understanding of real estate networking best practices so you can make the most of every opportunity.

Feeling inspired? Keep the inspiration going and learn the five ways to maximize the lead-generating potential of your next open house.

5. “The Queen of Versaille”

The Basic Gist:

If it seems like real estate movies tend to be downers, “The Queen of Versaille” (2012) is another one to add to the list of examples. It’s a documentary that follows the story of billionaire couple David and Jackie Siegel as they attempt to build the largest house in America and model it after the Palace of Versailles. But as they face financial difficulties related to the 2008 housing market crisis, their plans for the house and their extravagant lifestyle start to crumble.

The Lesson for Agents: Shift Happens

The 2008 housing crisis was not “normal” by any stretch of the imagination. But as any veteran real estate agent can attest, unpredictable twists and turns are a natural part of this industry.

In “The Queen of Versailles” we see an example of how market shifts can affect consumers. But it can be equally as disastrous for real estate agents and their businesses.

At one point in the film, David Siegel is reflecting on the lessons he learned, and he said, “We need to live within our means. Don’t spend money we don’t have. Don’t spend money that we think we’re going to eventually have. Spend what we do have. Get back to reality.”

Agents can learn the same lessons about planning during shifting markets. Here’s what you can do in response to one:

  • Develop a strong real estate business plan. That process should include setting income goals, calculating your expenses, setting a budget, and monitoring your progress. Planning for success and sticking to it isn’t as difficult as it might sound. You’ll get the tools you need for all that and more in our free Real Estate Business Plan.
  • Learn how to build a business that will stay consistently strong regardless of what happens in the housing market. Yes, you can even thrive during downturns. Not only is it possible, but it may be exactly what your business needs to rise to the next level. Watch a recording of “Shift Happens: How To Thrive In Any Market” to get practical lead generation strategies from the best in the business.