The cast of ‘Listing Jozi’. Picture: Supplied
The cast of ‘Listing Jozi’. Picture: Supplied

‘Listing Jozi’ may be SA’s first real estate reality show but it lacks the histrionics needed to sell it

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

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When it comes to reality TV, South Africa has been a follower not a trendsetter.

“Idols SA”, “Big Brother SA”, “Survivor SA”, “Come Dine with Me SA”, “Strictly Come Dancing SA”, “The Bachelor SA”, “The Bachelorette SA”, “MasterChef SA”, “My Kitchen Rules SA”, “First Dates South Africa”, “The Real Housewives”, “Shark Tank SA”, “Love Island South Africa”, “Married at First Sight SA” and “The Voice SA”, are indicative of this fact.

Some of the shows have converted into a ratings goldmine for the channels and have been airing for over a decade.

It was only in recent times that celeb-driven offerings have become a thing with Kelly Khumalo, Boity Thulo, Somizi Mhlongo, Lasizwe, Shauwn Mkhize and Bonang Matheba, bagging their own shows.

Right now, the buzz is around real estate reality shows, thanks to stylish and melodramatic-laden offerings like “Selling Sunsets”, “Property Brothers”, “Million Dollar Listings” and “Million Dollar Beach House”.

Aside from selling properties that pander to the whims of their flush clients, the offerings are underpinned by ruthless ambition, cattiness and, in some instances, a bit of blindsiding. A clash of egos is not uncommon, either.

Viewers can’t seem to get enough of the state of the art opulence on offer.

While the prices may see jaws drop, the views, privacy and little piece of heaven on earth resonates with the dreamers.

Once again, we have been slow on the uptake. But South Africa has finally joined the bandwagon with “Listing Jozi”, which aired on Wednesday.

This is our first stab at peeling back the layers to reveal what goes on in the competitive real-estate market.

Edgar Leopoldo Nche. Picture: Jonathan McMillan.

And Lara Nathan (Pam Golding Properties), Ryan Kwan (Law Real Estate), Jabulile Mazibuko (Law Real Estate), Edgar Leopoldo Nche (Law Real Estate) and Grahame Diedericks (Lew Geffen | Sotheby’s International Realty) are the brokers anchoring the show.

While they have distinct personalities, they share that hunger to close the deal with their wealthy clients.

And, in these transformed Covid-19 times, technology has played a crucial role in helping them achieve this.

I managed to catch one of the episodes ahead of the show’s premiere. It was eye-opening to watch the brokers channel their inner hustle.

Aside from a potent burst of charm and confidence, there are a few things that go into a sign-off on a listing: trust, an understanding of the client’s needs and a keenness to surpass their expectations, too.

Edgar may be a rookie in this luxurious world of listings but he’s got a gameplan to one day be a tour de force. And with the help of his mentor, Ryan, he’s confident about his ability to achieve this.

Ryan Kwan. Picture: Picture: Jonathan McMillan

When asked about what drew him to this profession, he shared: “I really love being around people.

“As a young person in South Africa, I find myself finding great inspiration from your TV shows such as ‘Top Billing’.

“That gave me great passion and inspiration to tape into real estate and also just understand what it takes to work in the industry.”

He was fresh out of high school and a student at the University of Johannesburg when he joined the real estate sector.

“I joined about five years ago just after I matriculated. I was eager to focus on what I thought would make me happy.

“Obviously, I had varsity to juggle because you have to keep the parents happy. I studied a course called Operational Management.

“Some of the modules helped me a bit.

“Look, to be honest, when I started out, it wasn't as easy as people see it on a TV show. You constantly need to reach out. You constantly have to find people that are willing to help you. You have to find a mentor,” he added.

On what has held in him good stead, Edgar pointed out: “You have to be self-motivated to learn and seek mentorship.

I would closely relate it to never giving up. You are going to face rejection, so you need a strong personality.

You need to draw closer to being charismatic. Be willing to help. Go the extra mile. And you must be willing to learn everyday.”

There is also a not-so-glamourise side to the job. In the episode, Edgar is dealt a few unforeseen setbacks.

He wasn’t keen on having an audience to his bad day but, in hindsight, admits its par for the course.

He added: “I never give up and, where there’s a will, there’s a way. That shows the extra mile real estate agents go to to make that sale.”

In “Listing Jozi”, Ryan beams with pride at seeing how Edgar has grown in heaps and bounds. And he also felt that he has imparted all he can, it’s time to take off Edgar’s training wheels.

Of course, this is a big deal.

And he gets to see his mentee prove his mettle when the two of them - along with another greenhorn, Jabulile - are invited to a 35 million rand mansion in Meyersdal.

While Ryan is the most seasoned, not to mention connected, of the three of them, Edgar and Jabulile are just as hungry to find a buyer. And so the rat race begins, so to speak.

“Listing Jozi” gives viewers a front row seat into how the other side lives. The homes are modern with uniquely tailored furnishings. The architecture of some of the places will blow your mind.

So from that perspective, it’s a great watch.

What I’m hoping will come through at some point is the dramatic tension that makes these shows edgier.

I want to see tempers flare when the clients become too demanding. I want to see that cutthroat vibe that exists in this world.

While aspirational and certainly insightful, “Listing Jozi” falls short on delivering on the histrionics.

Great reality shows are not built on a foundation of nice.

Let’s be honest, nice is boring. And that’s why I’m not sold on this series. The producers devalued it by playing it too safe.

“Listing Jozi” airs on BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174) on Wednesdays at 8pm.

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