Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sandra Rinomato's Instant TV Comeback
It was big news when Toronto realtor Sandra Rinomato announced she was leaving her series Property Virgins after making 130 episodes of the top rated HGTV show.
It was simply a case of been there, done that Rinomato said as she promptly relaunched herself into a brand new series Buy Herself.
"I was proud of what we'd accomplished in Property Virgins," Rinomato says, lounging in a fancy suite at Toronto's Hazelton hotel.
"I still wanted to do television and I had this idea --the number of women buying properties on their own is now a significant part of the market --it's over twenty per cent.
"I thought we could do a series just for them. They're buying their first property and facing challenges that only a few years ago were denied to women.
"And these females have unique stories to tell --they have to do it on their own when just a little while ago women had to get a male co-signer. For me it was a fascinating new angle to develop a show."
Just to complicate matters Property Virgins is continuing but as an American based series and a new host Egypt Sherrod. Rinomato's substantial backlog of shows will still be up and running as repeats.
But Rinomato insists "I'll still be there to hold the hands of these women as I walk them through a process that can be very scary indeed."
In fact it was Rinomato's sheer niceness and sense of decency that made her such a popular TV Reality series star.
Americans who watched PV on U.S.-based HGTV noticed this Canadian wasn't at all pushy. She wasn't interested in merely making the deal but acting out for her clients and making sure they were completely comfortable with each step of the process.
On some occasions she'd conclude they weren't quite ready to shed their property virginity and walk away knowing that when they regained their confidence they'd come to her for support.
"It's the way I am in my own real estate business," she says with a shrug. "I simply insist the people who work for me understand the customer comes first. I'd never push anybody into a deal just for the money. It's absolutely not right."
In Buy Herself Rinomato is stlll offering comfort and care.
She says she's using virtually the same crew she always did (Lynn Harvey is the executive producer).
"We have to tell a story and we have just 21 minutes to do it. It's not a formula because every situation is different. We'll show them three properties I've very carefully selected and we go from there."
But how does she get the right information out of every client?
"Well, yes, some are very hesitant when the cameras roll. I like to have a friend or relative with them to prod them and keep the conversation going. Certain points have to be covered. Occasionally we'll have to remind them that they have to add some talking points. There's also the TV audience to serve."
Each episode is constructed like a puzzle --viewers get caught up in the high drama of the moment thanks to Rinomato's interviewing skills as well as the tight editing. When I watched the first show I jumped when the subject, Kelly, chose a different condo than the one I would have picked --that's the personal drama kicking in.
Says Rinomato: "Kelly had been through several realtors and she had a habit of talking herself out of properties simply because of the fear factor. Her sister and best friend talked her down and I told her some reservations were purely cosmetic. In the end she selects the one that fits her needs the best and it's not necessarily the cheapest or the biggest."
"I think women are more tuned in to the cosmetics because they don't want to make major changes. Men might think they are handy enough to rip out stuff and hammer away even if they're not."
Says Rinomato with a laugh: "Even I didn't get everything I wanted but I compromised with what I wanted and what my husband wanted. I'm still ticked off our home doesn't have a side door. So there!"
On PV Rinomato did a fair amount of travelng to U.S. cities because "Scripps Howard wanted some American input. If we sell this one to them then I'll probably have to add an American element.
"It's just a different world down there --look at the plunges in home prices. It's something I don't really understand because I appreciate our stability."
And don't get her started on a show like Selling New York "which is just fun to watch because it's the extreme --the biggest city, the huge prices"
"On Buy Herself we show all the stages and pitfalls. It's a learning process. The stories deserve telling I believe."
BUY HERSELF PREMIERES ON HGTV ON MONDAY APRIL 16 AT 10 P.M.
MY RATING: *** 1/2.