Although the reality of Netflix’s “Selling the OC” — an unscripted series following the personal and professional lives of the owner and agents at successful California-based brokerage the Oppenheim Group — has been scrutinized since it first premiered in 2022, the multi-million dollar homes seen on camera are all truly for sale.
“Most of the time, they are listings that the Oppenheim group already had — whether the agents procure them themselves or they’re with (the brokerage),” Adam DiVello, creator of the “Selling the OC” and its parent show, “Selling Sunet,” told IndieWire.
And it is the stylish way the properties are filmed, with every glamorous detail offering audiences a vantage point of homes different from what they may have seen in the past, that sets the franchise apart from other reality series about real estate.
“We really try to give it our own style. And that was very deliberate from day one,” DiVello said, adding that what he believes “separates the shows from others — whatever channels those may be on — is that we always want it to be aspirational.” Not only that, but these are (or should be) homes that viewers don’t get to see every day.
In the case of “Selling the OC,” which just dropped Season 2, DiVello said that it should evoke a feeling like, “I can’t imagine living in that house” or “I can’t believe that house is right next to the ocean,” with one such example being the first property that opened Season 1.
Dubbed “Laguna Riviera,” it was a $100 million home overlooking the water with a retractable roof located in the primary suite that became an iconic visual for the series.
While DiVello said they got lucky “that house happened to be put on the market just around the same time we started filming,” it’s ultimately what he called a “jaw-dropper” that audiences now expect. “Those are the kind of homes that we get really excited about,” the executive producer said. “That’s what we try to aim for.”
In order to achieve that, the franchise has a number of departments — from people handling permits to those responsible for the onscreen talent — working on the shows, with DiVello noting that the locations team does a “phenomenal” job securing permissions for the properties (as well as all the many cafes and beaches) being filmed.
Meanwhile, the production team includes “incredibly talented camera operators and DPs that cover the homes,” showcasing the multi-million dollar listings seen on “Selling the OC,” all of which are actual listings the brokerage already has or the agents find themselves.
And one of those techniques now includes drones — but not just for aerial coverage. “One of the aspects that we do is we started using drones indoors. So, we’ll fly through a home with cameras, really just trying to give everyone a different vantage point of homes than they’ve seen in the past,” DiVello said.
In season 2 of “Selling the OC,” that includes agent Tyler Stanaland’s $40 million Laguna Beach listing, which is known as “Montage Way” and includes five bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Seen several times in the first few episodes, it’s not only a stunning property, but it serves as the backdrop for a walkthrough with Stanaland and Hall as well as a dramatic brokerage showing that includes the rest of the cast.
“That’s a very exclusive, private, gated community that very few people get to see inside of… Tyler is very proud of that listing, as he should be. So, we’re excited to get into that (place),” DiVello said of taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase that home.
How the property is featured on camera is ultimately up to the agents, who handle the staging of the home itself and also decide what they have planned for the property, whether that’s a small preview or a splashy event.
“There’s obviously, like, a theme, especially with Orange County,” DiVello said of the styling. “It’s very coastal and the homes are mostly waterfront or along the coast, so (the agents) kind of go with the same kind of a look.” Whereas in Los Angeles, on Sunset, they might lean more into the industrial or urban designs of the listings.
He added, “I think that the style of the homes and the way that the agents style them and stage them is also a reflection of their own personality and their own style. I think that’s a close tie-in… There is a lot of their own personal style, I think, used in the staging of the homes.”
Because it’s a reality show, DiVello said, “We usually try to follow along with anything that they have going on. If they have an open house, if they have a big brokers’ open, of course, that’s something we want to follow ’cause it’s a big, all-cast event usually. And that always works in our favor.”
The only real restrictions come from the homeowners, who sometimes choose to remain anonymous or decline to be filmed. “We would take everything we can if we can get it,” DiVello said. “The owners of the homes have to sign off on us going in there with cameras and be OK with their homes being on a show.
“It’s always up to the owner of the home to tell us where we’re allowed to go and where we’re not allowed to go,” he continued, adding that “sometimes they’ll have private rooms that they just don’t want seen or they don’t want people to know that that even exists. So, we’ll shoot around those or not show those.”
But for the most part, DiVello clarified, “They give us full reign of the home because they’re proud of their house. In some cases, the people built it from the ground up and they’re just very proud of it, right? And they want to show it to the world.”
“Selling the OC” is now streaming on Netflix.