“Modern Family” & the Housing Market — or,
“Why is Ty Burrell wearing my blue button-down shirt?”

You can’t get back on the horse until you fall off.

–“Phil Dunphy,” Modern Family

In the closing weeks of 2010 — 4+ years into the worst downturn since the ’30’s — a prime-time TV show has finally alluded, humorously, to the punk housing market as seen through the eyes of a Realtor and his family (or at least, Hollywood’s take on a Realtor and his family).

In this week’s episode of “Modern Family,” ten-year old(?) Luke Dunphy asks if he and his siblings will have to get jobs because his Dad’s real estate business is down.

Later in the episode, holding a toy electronic organ, he asks his parents, Phil and Claire, for directions to the “black market” so he can sell it and use the proceeds to help the family make ends meet.

They then have to explain that that’s not exactly what “selling organs on the black market” is all about.

Slack Business

And while it’s not a major plot line, at least twice in the episode, Phil Dunphy is shown fielding phone calls from clients who are cancelling their afternoon of showing appointments.

Phil professes to be happy for the free time, which allows him to be home with his sick wife and daughter (and to hunt for the source of the chirping smoke alarm).

The cancellations also afford him an opportunity to show his resolve and positive attitude.

“What do I always say?,” he quizzes Luke.

“You can’t get back on the horse until you fall off,” Luke dutifully answers.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Dunphy’s don’t appear to be in any real financial jeopardy; near the end of the episode, stay-at-home Mom Claire gives Phil a supportive hug — and everything appears to be all right again.

Out here in the real world . . . it helps to have a spouse or Significant Other with a steady, full-time job — preferably one with health care benefits.

P.S.: So, exactly how do you depict a slow housing market in a compelling narrative format?

Unfortunately, many of the attributes — listings that don’t get showings, negotiations that start miles apart and seem to span years, etc. — don’t translate very well.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply