Whether it’s been the South Carolina crew on Southern Charm or our favorite Real Housewives franchise, filming a Bravo reality show during a global pandemic has posed a challenge. Filming one in the epicenter of the virus definitely amps up the stress factor, but that is exactly what the agents at Million Dollar Listing New York have done, and they have even managed to add newly minted cast member Kirsten Jordan this year. Tyler Whitman continues to make a name for himself in the real estate game, but also continues to cement himself in who he truly he, courtesy of some newfound confidence. Whitman’s struggles with body positivity as a gay man are relatable to millions of viewers, and the response he has received has been extremely positive. We caught up recently to chat about his experience filming the show and the response, how he is finding his own happy through the experience of the past year, and how he is slowly making his life available to sharing it with someone else.
Michael Cook: Based on the first episode of the new season of Million Dollar Listing New York, we are seeing a “New Year, New Tyler” indeed. You and the journey you have taken is so representative of what many people, specifically gay men, go through and you have been a fantastic representation.
Tyler Whitman: That feels really good to hear that, and I am so glad that came through on the show. That also does seem to be a lot of the people that I am connecting with right now, and it has definitely been a very special part of the whole experience.
MC: Real estate has been a market that has changed a great deal in the age of COVID, both from am availability perspective, as well as the way you simply “sell”. How has the world of real estate changed for you in these truly surreal times?
TW: The word that comes to mind is definitely a “journey and an evolution”. Leading into it, it is not like we were in a super hot market going into the pandemic. So we were already working our way through what was definitely a buyer’s market. Then the pandemic hit and the few buyers that we had really went on pause. New York City was really the epicenter of the virus, especially in the beginning. It’s all communal style living with hundreds of people living in one building. All of a sudden, people wanted to get houses with yards and a lot of space and distance between neighbors; that is not what New York City offers.
Dealing with that, and now seeing now how New York City is having a very fast comeback, which has been so exciting. I was there for all of it and I have never learned so much and dealt with a lot of really awesome things, challenging things, and I now feel that I am the best real estate agent that I have been because of all of the things that I have learned through this experience. It got me back to gratitude; that is where I landed. It was really hard, but it has really empowered me. If I can survive this market, I am golden. I can help people through anything.
MC: Living in gratitude for so many of us, is what has gotten us through the last year. Being so close to the other side of this pandemic and hopefully, being healthy truly offers a feeling of gratitude and a new perspective; do you think that is fair to say?
TW: Absolutely. It has also made me grateful for things that prior to this experience, floated under my radar. It’s all the little things in life.
MC: Real estate as a business is inherently stressful, but adding a camera and having your experiences filmed must make it that much more stressful. When the experience to be part of the cast of Million Dollar Listing New York came your way, was there hesitation?
TW: For me,. it was definitely “I’m doing this”. There are obviously some things about me that I am always concerned about, that I am not the most confident person in the world. There is also a side of me though, that is definitely an adventures seeker. I thought that this would be a life changing experience and I said “I am all in, let’s do it”!
MC: You joined a show with cast members who have both big personalities and matinee idol good looks. For anyone, standing next to the likes of Steve Gold or Ryan Serhant would be intimidating.
TW: Yes! I also believe that we all have our own unique stories and life experiences to share. And I was ready to share mine, put it out there, and stand on my own.
MC: Your story is super-relatable to so many gay men. While your cast mates are having children and moving into their dream homes with their wives, you are navigating your own personal insecurities, as well as working in the high-pressure world of real estate. What has the reaction been like that you have gotten?
TW: It;’s been really awesome. There are so many gay men who have body image issues who have lost and gained weight and felt insecure at the beach; I’m that guy. I think that is the magic of reality television, the audience watches it and the reason that people love reality television is because they find that one person that they identify with. Maybe they identify with Ryan, or Fredrik (Eklund) or Steve for various reasons because they are super successful and super good looking. Or they identify with someone like me who is clawing their way to the top and has gone through a lot of shit and is telling his story. I am happy I can be that guy that that audience can reach out to. People reach out to me on social media all the time, and that keeps me confident. The people that do connect with me, it’s like “okay, this has an important purpose” and I am glad that I did it.
MC: When you need to step away from the real estate grind, how do you walk away for at least a bit and decompress?
TW: I am definitely a beach person. Right now I am at my place in East Hampton, and while I do sell a lot in the Hamptons right now, this is definitely my deep breath place. There is something about coming out every weekend, a couple hours from the city….Other than showing a few gorgeous waterfront homes, it is time for me to relax, read, Peloton… those are my saving graces these days.
MC: For anyone that is looking to either buy or sell in today’s market, what do you think are some points that are absolutely key?
TW: Buying in New York City, definitely take advantage of the prices being offered. If you lowball the prices being offered though, you are not going to win. Things are selling really well right now because they are being offered at great prices. The discount is built into the price; if you are trying to get another discount on top of that you are going to lose your dream home so don’t do it. As for selling, yes we are having a comeback, yes it is really busy right now, but only for the properties that have been appropriately priced. It always comes down to making sure that you have the right price tag if you want the right result.
MC: How have you stayed inspired and hungry to continue pushing during the past year where so many of us were separate?
TW: It was a time for me, as someone who is single and without children, to be completely focused on myself. Figuring out what my most ideal life looks like. What kind of things do I need to work on and change to make that life happen. Really focus in on what is truly important to me and come back to what what is ultimately my big why–and really focus on that. In the momentum and craziness of life, it is hard to come back and get back to what you really want. I definitely spent a lot of time doing some soul searching like I have never done before. For the first time, I think I have a crystal clear vision of the kind of person I want to be and the life I want to live. That is what you work hard for, so you can live that life that you dream about. Sometimes we lose sight of that; that is why I get up and work every day.
MC: As you craft the live that you dream about, are you ready to share that life with someone else?
TW: I feel complete by myself. Because of that, I feel very excited to share that with somebody else. I was not there before this experience. I was desperately trying to find somebody else to complete me. Now for the first time, I know exactly who I am and who I want to be, with or without a partner. Now that I have that though, I definitely want someone to share that with. It took this experience for me to learn who I am and what I want and now I am ready; I want to be in love and have a family, but only if it’s right.
‘Million Dollar Listing New York’ airs Thursday at 9/8c on Bravo (check local listings)
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