Sarai Minx in a Property Sex scene. Courtesy Property Sex​
Sarai Minx in a Property Sex scene. Courtesy Property Sex

The Market for Real Estate Porn Is As Hot as Ever

The erotic tension between owning a home and watching people have sex in your dream house has always been appealing.

There’s a term for spending tortured hours browsing Zillow, fantasizing about houses you can never afford in places remotely distant from your own tax bracket: real estate porn. The masturbatory practice has only gotten more popular in the last few years, as the economy crashed and people fled (even if only mentally) their apartments for picket-fence homeownership pipe dreams during the pandemic.

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But actual, literal real estate pornography is a real thing, and it’s wildly popular.

There are two common types of scenarios in this genre: where one person is renting and the other has some control over their living situation (landlords or property managers), that plays with a power dynamic that’s overt. Porn has always lampooned real-life taboos, and with landlords exploiting tenants more than any time in recent memory, this qualifies. The other scenario involves an agent and a potential buyer, in a more subtle, tenuous negotiation of terms and power.

Adding another layer to all of this is the background of the scenes: shooting locations and real houses that most viewers will never obtain but love to obsess over anyway. 

With the way the real estate market is these days—where anyone currently renting without a hefty savings account or generational wealth seems to have a fat chance in hell at home ownership—it’s tempting to assume that this is a new porn trend. It’s not. While porn often mirrors and addresses the current zeitgeist, some porn plots are simply evergreen. 

In the 1980 porno Talk Dirty to Me, a real estate agent is showing a house to a prospective buyer, and starts aggressively propositioning him. 

“Feel this carpet, Robert. So sexy, so soft,” the female agent says to the home-buying, married man. “It is a nice carpet,” the flabbergasted buyer replies, as she shows him her carpet. “Why don’t you just sign these papers and get them out of the way, then we can have some fun?” she goads. (Spoiler alert: These moves don’t work on him, but they do work on a peeping Tom, who catches her after she’s rejected.) 

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And the 1979 film 800 Fantasy Lane is all about horny guys infiltrating a Hollywood real estate company that employs sexy agents, who take them on a tour of the titular mansion, where they (and more supporting cast) fuck all over the property.  

The fantasy of having a hot lady lead you around an unobtainable house where no one’s home might not seem that deep. But there’s a lot a director can do with the theme of real estate, whether it’s agents and buyers, or landlords and tenants, or roommates and roommates. One production studio, Property Sex, has explored every possible combination, dynamic, and scenario that can be imagined within these confines, and has been dominating the genre for years—almost since its start in 2016.

One of the founders of Property Sex, who goes by Kalli, told me that she and her partner had been in the adult industry for 17 years when she had the idea to start a website dedicated solely to the fantasy of agents and clients. 

“What lucky/crazy/pervy fucker is renting out his/her house for a porn shoot? What do the neighbors think? How do they clean that white couch?”

“There was nothing remotely close to this,” she told me. “There were so many niches at this time that were already done. And I was thinking, something that’s quite popular and a fantasy that hasn't been really touched before, would be a whole website based on real estate agents just having sex with their clients.” There were perhaps a few scenes that explored this concept, she said, but not a whole studio focused on the idea. “I thought it would be a good idea to start up a site that's strictly this: the client and the real estate agent, plus some other scenes in there too with the landlord and the tenants, so we sprinkled a few of those in there as well.” 

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The site blew up immediately, Kalli said. It was in the top three most searched sites on Pornhub (it’s currently a Pornhub partner channel, with almost two billion video views and 1.8 million subscribers), and consistently stayed in Pornhub’s top channels. 

What makes the genre popular, Kalli thinks, is the unattainability of it in real life. “I think it's the idea that people have this thought in their head when they visit their sexy real estate agent, but you know, obviously, 99 percent of the time nothing's going to happen,” she said. “It’s the same thing as the typical [porn plot], where a plumber goes into the house, fixes her pipes and then something breaks, she's alone... It's something like that, except like with a real estate agent.” 

“As a guy, you do come up with these fantasies in your head about certain things,” Tony Rubino, one of the male actors for Property Sex, told me. Maybe the waitress will be interested if he flirts; maybe the Seamless delivery person will come inside if he opens the door looking fresh. Maybe, just maybe, the real estate agent will fuck him if he shoots his shot. “That's a super big fantasy for a guy,” he said.

Aubree Valentine in a scene for Property Sex. Image courtesy Property Sex

Aubree Valentine in a scene for Property Sex. Image courtesy Property Sex

“The real estate agent is practically a mythical figure in pop culture and local lore: often a hot woman, perhaps a little older (cougar type), and flashy,” porn scholar and author of Alice in Pornoland Laura Helen Marks told me. “As an English person moving to the U.S., I was really weirded out and fascinated by the real estate agent billboards—the huge photoshopped faces of women with tons of makeup and big hair. It was almost as though the woman herself was a selling point. The process, too, relies on a high degree of performance and getting the client to like you.” 

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The agent and prospective buyer relationship offers a pleasantly flirty tension that’s natural to the roles. Neither is wielding power over the other; they need each other, with the added allure of the woman’s role typically being a more commanding one. “These roles are often power positions for women, especially when it comes to income but also when it comes to sales skills and embodying a certain persona,” Marks said. “The complexity rests in that delicate give and take dynamic—the seller needs the buyer to buy, but also the buyer needs the guidance of the seller who is essentially a gatekeeper.” 

Property Sex’s scenes themselves lean toward a more amateur, point-of-view style of shooting. For the buyer/agent scenes, it’s often as if the buyer snuck a camera into the viewing, or is filming everything under the pretense of documenting a walkthrough—that inevitably turns more interesting. “It's reality style, you know, like someone shooting it with a low budget camera or something like that,” Kalli said. 

In landlord-tenant scenes, unlike the more equal-footed agent-client relationship, who’s in control is more obvious. “The power dynamics seem much more straightforward in the sense of the landlord being in control and the tenant being powerless and in need,” Marks said. “Of course, this is not really true—the tenant pays the landlord’s mortgage, after all—but the way it plays out in real life puts the landlord in the power position.” 

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Many porn genres thrive on this dynamic. Cop porn is one of them; casting couch porn is another. And as with each of these, the scenarios that porn captures and lampoons are more serious when they happen in reality: just recently, a tenant sued her landlord for trying to include a clause in her lease that would require her to have sex with the property manager.

Marks said she could think of many ways to flip this script; invoking squatters rights or eviction pauses, for example. One Instagram content creator, Marco D'Alessandro, does this script-flipping in a recurring bit where he’s constantly calling his “landlord,” an attractive young woman, to come to his apartment to fix things and turns it into flirtation. 

But most landlord porn out there is playing off of a typical power struggle. 

“I think because in real life the tenant feels so powerless (you don’t own the property, landlord has a key and can enter any time they want, landlord writes the contract/sets the price, landlord has the upper hand in a society with a housing crisis, landlord regularly breaks the law with no consequences), that’s how it tends to play out in porn,” Marks said.   

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For viewers, the voyeurism of watching real estate themed porn is multi-dimensional: there’s the fantasy of seduction unfolding, but there’s also the fascination of the set. Porn fans spend hours watching films and paying attention to the backdrops and sets, trying to figure out where things were shot. The Rialto Report, a podcast about the “golden age” of porn, featured a series on famous porn set locations and houses.

Porn fans have long perused the sets of sex scenes in the same way some of us scroll Zillow and zoom in on every detail of a listing. We all know we’ll never have it, and will never likely have it, and that’s what makes it erotic. When we’re mentally jerking off to a million-dollar villa as a procrastination habit, the fixation feels good and a little bad at the same time, like picking a scab. When we’re literally jerking off to people fucking in that fancy villa, the backdrop adds to the unobtainabilty: a nice white couch, a throw pillow tossed just-so, a railing overlooking Los Angeles or Madrid that toes a line of exhibitionism and seclusion, it’s all a canvas to project whatever sexual fantasy is happening in the foreground. 

“Interestingly enough, once porn discarded with traditional narrative and went full gonzo, the interest in the real estate being used seemed to intensify,” Marks said. “I think part of this interest lies in a sense of ‘who owns this house?’ In other words, ‘what lucky/crazy/pervy fucker is renting out his/her house for a porn shoot? What do the neighbors think? How do they clean that white couch?’” 

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These salacious questions have gotten filmmakers into real-life trouble, too: In 2018, someone backed out of making an offer on a multi-million dollar mansion in Arizona’s Paradise Valley (where there’s a significant porn scene) when they found out someone had shot porn inside. "I just can't make Thanksgiving dinner on counters where a porn star has been lounging around,” the spooked buyer told news outlet AZ Central. 

Also in 2018, a woman sued a porn producer, claiming that he used her Martha’s Vineyard rental home for at least 24 pornographic film shoots without her consent. 

Finding a spot to film has been a labor issue that producers have had to work around in the past. Years ago, Airbnb was an option that some producers used when renting shoot locations—a practice that’s much less common now, and sex workers have said for years that the platform discriminates against them, even if they’re not shooting content in the homes. In 2012, Los Angeles county enacted new laws for adult filmmakers that required condoms in every penetration scene, as well as permits and high fees for performers; producers then migrated away from the film-friendly city to neighboring counties, which require expensive location permits for shooting. 

"When you force the industry from a well-equipped infrastructure like the Valley, with not only traditional sound stages, but a large number of easily rented homes where adult filming is permitted and encouraged, and push it to the margins, and to area and locations where people are not aware that adult film is being shot, you're seeing the beginning of an industry moving underground," a spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition said in 2016, after a producer was caught filming in an Airbnb. "Anytime you push workers into the shadows, you make their workplace more dangerous." 

Meanwhile, other homeowners eagerly and currently rent out their homes to porn studios for shoots, similar to how mainstream Hollywood productions rent private residences for their work. These rentals can cost thousands of dollars a day—it’s a decent paycheck for simply leaving your house for the day.

Even if real estate porn is a time-honored genre from the golden age of the adult industry, its continued popularity says something about how we view the entire process of securing this piece of the American dream. “I think it makes perfect sense that this theme would become more visible now considering shifts in the market due to COVID and short term rentals,” Marks said. “I know I myself spent a lot of time during lockdown browsing properties... Still, this theme seems evergreen due to the core power dynamics at play.”