Emma Hernan: From Ceo & Luxury Real Estate Agent To Popular Reality Star
With very little inventory and housing prices through the roof, Netflix’s Selling Sunset real estate reality show offers viewers an addictive and captivating insiders peek into eye-popping luxury homes and the inner drama surrounding the relationships of the cast.
In this 2022 post-pandemic world, with real estate prices soaring and no end in sight, there are two lenses through which prospective new home buyers, as well as entrenched title holders, can view the situation: either deal with the facts, or escape into a real estate reality show such as Selling Sunset.
And because the vast majority of us are exhausted with the idea of dealing with the first option, the latter alternative has become somewhat of a phenomenal escape for lovers of extravagant homes, cutting-edge fashions and designer trends.
On April 19, 2022, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released an up-to-date comparative month-over-month real estate market assessment, as well as projections for the rest of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. The full overview identified some key findings for buyers and sellers. These include the fact that “National home sales and newly available listings both retreated in March 2022 after having jumped briefly higher in February.” And, “The number of newly listed homes fell back by 5.5% on a month-over-month basis in March.” 1
On the same day, Toronto Star real estate reporter Tess Kalinowski disclosed, “Royal LePage has revised its annual Canadian forecast upward to 15 per cent from 10.5 per cent nationally.” The real estate giant had also “adjusted its annual forecast for the GTA to a 16 per cent increase, up from 11 per cent.”2
Chris Fox, web content writer for CP24, reported, “The adjustment is being partially attributed to a record-breaking first quarter, in which the average price of a Canadian home rose 25.1 per cent year-over-year to $856,900.” In the GTA, “The acceleration in prices was even more pronounced, with the average home price increasing by 27.7 per cent year-over-year to $1,269,900.”3
With the rise in interest rates over the last few months and the Bank of Canada’s first quarter-point increase in March 2022, there is a lot of worry and scurry in the real estate marketplace. However, if you are in the market to buy a luxury home, it is the exponential rise in the actual price of a home that is what resonates most.
Bob Clarke, of Muskoka Realty and the owner and president of Clarke Real Estate and Construction, states, “We are coming off of two of our hottest years, with a 60 per cent increase in value both years. The average house price in Muskoka is $2 to $3 million, so interest rates don’t have a large impact in high-value markets, nor do foreign buyers, who represent less than one per cent of our market.”
Clarke’s clientele, in fact, revolve in the same “hobnob” hemisphere as the patrons of the ever-burgeoning Selling Sunset series.
“We Don’t Go Into Every Little Showing In Sixinch Stilettos. I’ve Gone To Inspections With Clients And Have Crawled Around In A House Trying To Find The Light Switches”
The defining bones of this popular show, whose Season 5 kicked off on Netflix on April 22, 2022, is aptly captured by the American architectural photographer Julius Shulman, who quipped, “What good is a dream house if you haven’t got a dream?”
And, of course, what better environment in which to build on those dream home dreams than the recent two-year sheltering-in-place lockdowns that had many of us not only painting our own four walls, but also talking to them, at times, in weary frustration and boredom?
Let’s face it: In this materialistic mindset world, for many, it is not just a matter of keeping up with the Joneses, but it’s also a matter of one-upping them by owning the best McMansion on the street.
So, what is the fascination for the sizable audience of viewers who watch Selling Sunset on a continual basis? Well, first off is the interior and exterior eye candy, not to mention the ingrained tendency for humankind to love a good old snoop into other people’s business — or in layperson’s terms: being a Nosy Parker.
Who wouldn’t be fascinated with the million-dollar views — quite literally — the lapping infinity pools and the rooms of furniture that in most houses would be cordoned off with red rope to keep the family from trespassing on the pièce de résistance sacrosanct décor. Absolutely, there are some positive attributes to be garnered from a real estate reality show like Selling Sunset. Emma Hernan, one of the breakout stars in the series, is an excellent power of example for young women who want to be successful entrepreneurs. The flip side of this scenario, however, is what keeps viewers glued to their proverbial couches, which is the interaction, otherwise known as “drama,” between the real estate agents of the Los Angeles Oppenheim Group. Who doesn’t love the romance of sunny weather cocktails and the explosive rounds of confrontation and gossip, while at the same time salivating over the latest fashion designs and the eye-popping extravaganza of homes that are set against backdrops that most viewers can only dream about?
City Life Magazine interviewed Selling Sunset cast member Emma Hernan, who is also a successful entrepreneur, angel investor and the CEO of her own successful food company, Emma-Leigh & Co., to get her insights on the show and the multimillion-dollar-dream-home marketplace.
Q: Did you have any reservations about joining the Selling Sunset cast, Emma?
EH: Yes, of course. When you’re opening yourself up for people to judge you and your life, of course, there’s going to be some hesitation. I’ve always been a private person. And when it comes to jumping onto a show where there’s been some previous history with someone who was a negative part of your life, you don’t want to have to deal with that. But, I also wanted to share my story and let women see they can be successful entrepreneurs and accomplish whatever they want to, regardless of their backstory. It’s been the best decision that I’ve made, because I’ve received so many messages from women who watch the show and tell me that I have motivated them to put everything they have into their own businesses.
Q: What’s the best way to deal with conflict with a co-worker or a friend?
EH: Not just with co-workers, but also in everyday life, it is always best to take the high road and see that journey through. You can’t let people into your life who are negative and have that same kind of effect on you; although, it’s easier said than done. I believe that what you put out into the universe you get back.
Q: What does the not-so-glamorous side of real estate look like?
EH: We don’t go into every little showing in six-inch stilettos. I’ve gone to inspections with clients and have crawled around in a house trying to find the light switches. I’ve gone to houses that are completely under construction, and we’re in sneakers and hard hats. Sure, you’re looking at the most luxurious homes in the world, but the interesting thing about real estate is that it is 24-7, not nine to five. I have clients in Singapore, so I am literally working non-stop. It’s not always glamorous, but that’s what makes it fun.
Q: Please share how you give a voice to young people.
EH: I’ve been investing in companies since I was 14 years old. I want young girls and women to know that they can start saving their money at a very young age and put it into the stock market or crypto or NFTs [non-fungible tokens]. It’s a great way to have your money working for you, while going to your nine-to-five job. Money well invested grows, but we’re not always taught that. I think it’s really important for young women to learn how to manage their money and to have a game plan. I definitely plan to advocate for that in the future and show girls how to do whatever they want and be as successful as they can.
Q: What does your dream home look like?
EH: The house that I purchased here in Los Angeles and am currently living in is a New England–style home. I love contemporary houses, ones that have a lot of warmth to them, because it reminds me of home. I think I will always have homes in Boston, and I’ll always want that home to have a contemporary feel, because that’s just who I am. And, of course, a pool and all of those necessities are important, but most of the homes here have pools, because we’re not that close to the beach.
“It Is Just So Important To Live Your Best Life And Not Worry About The Small Things; Put All Of Your Energy Into Positive Vibes. Adopt The Yolo Mantra”
Q: What’s key to pulling off a really nice business suit?
EH: I love business suits. I also love getting dressed up and putting outfits together and creating my own individual style. You see that on the show, but sometimes I’ll go and buy different outfits and then take them to a tailor and have them completely reconstructed, so it’s customized to my body. Everyone has different body types, so it’s all about finding the best style and what looks good on you.
Q: What’s the key to living la dolce vita?
EH: That’s so funny. I feel like I use that quote all the time. I actually texted it to a couple of friends just last night. It is just so important to live your best life and not worry about the small things; put all of your energy into positive vibes. Adopt the YOLO (You only live once) mantra. I do think you will live your best life when you focus on the good and put your energy into everything that means something to you.
And, so, at the end of the day, what is most important for all of us to remember is that there is a decided distinction between reality and realty. Therein lies the truth of our dreams.
1. The Canadian Real Estate Association. “March home sales and new listings ease back following surge in February.” Accessed via https://stats.crea.ca/en-ca
2. Toronto Star. “‘It’s growth upon growth.’ Royal LePage sees house prices rising in 2022, despite cooling market.” Accessed via https://thestar.com/news/gta/2022/04/19/its-growthupon-growth-royal-lepage-sees-house-prices-rising-in-2022-despite-cooling-market
3. CTV News. “Real estate firm increases house price forecast for Greater Toronto Area in 2022.” Accessed via https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/real-estate-firm-increaseshouse- price-forecast-for-Ontario
INTERVIEW BY MURSAL RAHMAN