Will Fredericksburg real estate agent, broker be on ‘Undercover Boss’?


Reality may prove to be a tad different than advertised for two Fredericksburg-area residents who auditioned for a “reality show” starring real estate agents.

Elaine Molina, who works for broker Steven Batitto at his United Real Estate Premier office in Fredericksburg, got the two of them involved after reading an email last September about the auditions. They were to be held at a United Real Estate Group office in Reston, where she’d worked until Batitto opened his franchise.

“I’m like, reality show?” Molina said. “I called to see if it was for real and if I could try out, even if I was no longer in that office. Then I called Steve. ‘Let’s go together. Who’s more interesting than us? I’m Puerto Rican from the Bronx. They’ll love me. You have to go with me.’”

When they got there, Molina and Batitto were asked to sign a nondisclosure form and were told that the interviews were actually for a documentary on what it’s like to be a real estate agent. If there was enough interest, then it might become a reality show.

Molina said her interview started out with the basics—her name, age, where she worked. Then the interviewer started zeroing in on what she did and didn’t like about United Real Estate, which has nearly 500 franchised offices on four continents.

“I told Steve afterward that I felt weird,” she said. “I wonder if they’re trying to figure out if I’m doing my job right? I started looking around to see if there’s one of those mirrors where they can see you from the other side.”

The interviewer told Molina that she was a natural in front of the camera and would get a call if she got picked for the documentary, she said. Then, just last week, United Real Estate Group notified its franchises that CEO Dan Duffy would be in Friday’s episode of CBS’ Emmy Award-winning show “Undercover Boss.”

“Once they starting putting out the press release on that, I just knew. That’s what it was,” Molina said.

Batitto said Duffy kept his involvement with “Undercover Boss” so completely under wraps that he didn’t even mention it when the two had dinner together recently.

Batitto’s office will be one of a number of United Real Estate Group offices holding a watch party for agents and business associates Friday to view the episode. It’s also the launch for his new office in the 3,900 square-foot former BB&T branch next to Regal Fredericksburg 14 in Central Park.

He’s moving from a a 600 square-foot space at 809 William St. because the lease expires there in October and he’ll need the additional space as he adds more agents.

The two TVs in the new office will be tuned to CBS when “Undercover Boss” comes on at 9 p.m. Batitto said he hasn’t heard if his interview is included, and Molina isn’t telling if she made the cut.

“I’ve questioned her. … She says ‘I’m not,’” Batitto said. “But you just don’t know.”

The “Undercover Boss” episode featuring Duffy will mark the first time that the six-year-old show has featured the day-to-day workings of the real estate industry. A makeup artist created a new look for the 6 foot, 7 inch executive so he could experience what’s happening in the trenches at his company incognito.

Out went the clean-cut hairstyle, neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard and professional attire. In went a shaggy brown hairpiece, a longer beard dyed the same shade, and a tie-dyed shirt accented with a macramé necklace.

Molina said she doesn’t think Duffy was the man who interviewed her in Reston. He was tall enough to tower over her, even though she was wearing heels, but “he looked thinner and younger” than Duffy.

Now she and Batitto are having second thoughts about their involvement with the supposed “reality show.”

“Oh, no,” Molina said. “What if we’re on there? What did I say?”

United Real Estate Group does all transactions electronically, and she said she liked that because clients can sign documents on mobile devices instead of coming into the office. The flip side, she told the interviewer, is that she knows only a handful of the nearly 50 agents in Batitto’s office.

“We’re so busy that there really isn’t a need to go into the office,” Molina said.

Friday’s watch party will give the agents a chance to meet each other in person instead of by email, she said. They’ll also get to see the new office, which has what Batitto calls a “real estate café” with high-end coffee machines.

“Corporate told us, ‘If you have a watch party, let us know,’” he said. “Some will have them and some won’t. I thought it was pretty exciting to have it since we have a new office.”

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Cathy Jett: 540.374-5407

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