Is any press really good press? Kyle Richards and Mauricio Umansky might respond with a resounding “no” these days.
The couple’s presence on Bravo TV’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” has, for nine years, served to give Umansky’s Los Angeles brokerage, The Agency, a national profile while also allowing him to show off his flashiest luxury home listings.
But all is not well at the Beverly Hills-based brokerage, which has seen a fair share of heavy-hitting brokers depart, either disgruntled by the firm’s practices or in fear of fallout from a major lawsuit Umansky faces from the vice president of Equatorial Guinea. Umansky allegedly misrepresented the value of the vice president’s mansion in Malibu when he sold it in 2015.
In The Real Deal’s summer cover story, associate web editor Natalie Hoberman reported on the struggles The Agency is facing as it continues to rapidly expand beyond California.
And when Kyle Richards was questioned about Umansky’s suit during this week’s reunion episode of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” — and she responded that “your question from, whoever the fuck Monty in Magootville, saying my husband is scamming people $36 million… that’s a misleading question” — fans of the show went looking for answers and found our story.
As Redditors on the /BravoRealHousewives board opined on the couple, the suit, and our story, we learned a few things. And we’re here to share them with you.
1. The Agency’s model of having co-founders like Umansky on most listings sparked comparisons to Keller Williams and virtual brokerage eXp.
“I started at KW [Keller Williams] but personally [have] no experience working at EXP. However I know people that have and they say it’s a very similar model to ‘profit share’ at KW,” one user said. “Also when you pass your board test, KW and EXP called me non-stop. The more agents paying monthly fees before selling anything the better.”
2. One reader defended The Agency against an accusation that it paid out a commission unfairly.
“My guess is, it was in their contract. As a newer agent, they might not have the funds or resources to market a luxury listing, and the contract probably said it’s a 50/50 split and we will front you the money to market but you pay it back out of your 50 percent,” one Redditor said. They added that “if the [gross commission income] was 100k the agent would have gotten 50k, and the agency 50k. But if the agent owed the agency 45k for marketing and office fees, then the Agency took it. Totally guessing, but that wouldn’t be unheard of as far as an arrangement when partnering with a senior broker on a luxury sale.”
3. Some people are finally getting the Hilton & Hyland connection to the Agency.
One thing you’ll regularly be reminded of while watching RHBH is that Kyle Richards is Paris Hilton’s aunt. Paris’ mother Kathy Hilton has made appearances on the show and is rumored to be a cast-member next season. Her husband, Rick Hilton, co-founded Hilton & Hyland in 1993 with Jeff Hyland. Umansky was a broker there before starting his own brokerage and currently directly competes with his former employer for listings.
One redditor says: “Somewhere in LA, Kathy Hilton cackles.” Another responded: “Thought the same thing about Kathy, especially since it said some of their top guys went to Hilton & Hyland. That had to sting.” Another added: “This will create good tension to make a storyline if Kathy Hilton joins the cast next season as she is rumored.”
4. Some think Umansky’s problems might be enough to make Richards leave the Bravo show.
“Here’s something what if all this leads Kyle to walk away from BH ? she doesn’t want to talk about it and wouldn’t she rather save face and leave before this all gets worse ? I’m wishful thinking btw ?” one Redditor said.
5. But others just want to see more of The Agency drama spill onto the screen.
“I wonder if they will force Kyle to address this for the next season,” one commenter said. “This is definitely becoming harder and harder to ignore and I feel like RHBH already gets a lot of criticism for not sharing everything/confronting things happening in their [sic] life on the show.” And another Redditor is certainly out for on-screen catharsis: “The producers have got to find them a bone collector in this group. Someone who will actually bring this shit up on camera and demand answers and real conversations.”