Netflix’s “Selling Sunset” was the reality-television show that made Maya Vander one of the most prominent faces in the world of the high-end real estate industry in Hollywood. Since the TV show’s inception back in 2019, she had been part of the main cast as one of the successful realtors of the Oppenheim Group’s sales team. After appearing on the TV show for five consecutive seasons, she hinted that she might take a sabbatical for the sixth season to focus on self-healing, and at the same time devote her time to her own real estate company in Miami.

Get to know Maya Vander

Maya could be as friendly and as outspoken as anyone who had been successful in selling expensive real estate properties, but she chose to be private when it came to specific details about her family. There were conflicting reports by various websites on what year she was born, but they agreed on listing 12 March as her date of birth. She was born and raised in Eilat, the southernmost city in Israel, a bustling port and a well-known resort on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsular. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 2002, but as she said, ‘The moment I arrived, it felt like home.’ She might not come from a wealthy family, but she had a happy childhood.

Early career in retail

It was never mentioned that she earned a college degree, but Maya revealed that she had been involved in sales long before she became a popular reality-TV star. She was into retail clothing, and was always comfortable convincing people to purchase whatever she was offering. However, it wasn’t enough for her; she had plenty of goals in life, and never shied away from working hard to achieve them.

Passed the real estate licensure exam

After witnessing how she excelled in sales and marketing, her mother encouraged her to study and take the real estate licensure examination. Even with two other jobs, Maya studied around 140 hours of relevant classes to arm herself with enough knowledge, before she took California’s licensing exam. Her efforts paid off, and she passed it in 2011.

Slow first years as a realtor

Maya’s first couple of years in real estate were rough and slow. She was hired as a real estate agent by Nourmand & Associates, the oldest and most successful real estate brokerage firm in California. She learned the fundamentals of the job there, but only spent a year and nine months with the firm. While the promise of earning commissions for every property that she sold was intoxicating, Maya advised the young and upcoming realtors to make sure that they had a steady job with a stable income to ensure the money flow into their bank accounts, while trying to find a client. Truth to be told, she said, most of the time, it would take several months to close a deal.

Found her footing in real estate

She had always challenged herself to be something more, so Maya became the Estates Director and Luxury Homes Specialist in Keller Williams Realty, Inc., for about two years from March 2013 up to February 2015. It was there that she was exposed to the more opulent homes in Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu. However, she found her real home in another real estate brokerage firm, The Oppenheim Group, where she flourished. She’s been with the company since 2015, and as one of the key agents in the company, she was included in the show called “Selling Sunset”, when the owners agreed to delve into the world of reality television.

Personal Life

Maya wasn’t that forthcoming when it came to specific details about her husband, but her social media account revealed many things. She married David Miller in June 2017, having met him back in August 2014 in a bar somewhere in Santa Monica,  during an evening when she was socializing, but at the same time hustling and trying to meet potential clients. She gave him a business card, and they soon started dating. Dave was said to have earned an MBA degree in Strategic Management, Finance, and Accounting from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, then worked for a few finance corporations in California, until an opportunity in H.I.G Capital persuaded him and Maya to move to the Fort Lauderdale Area in Florida.

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“Selling Sunset,” the reality-TV show

The lure of using reality-TV as a marketing tool was a huge risk for the founders and owners of The Oppenheim Group, which was the main focus of Bravo TV’s “Selling Sunset.” There was always the fear of how the company would be viewed by the buying public, but TV had proven time and again that it could upgrade the marketability of any product, idea, or person.

How did “Selling Sunset” start?

Building homes and interior design had been a major subject on reality-TV for many years, the bread and butter of shows aired on HGTV because of the genre’s popularity with the majority of cable viewers. Some of these series dabbled in the buying and selling of real estate properties, but quite briefly. TV show creator Adam DiVello wanted to develop a series focusing solely on the real estate industry. After he saw one of the founders of The Oppenheim group make an appearance as a representative of basketball player Kris Humphries in a TV show called “Million Dollar Listing” on Bravo TV, he immediately offered-up the idea.

Initially, Jason Oppenheim wasn’t very receptive to it, afraid that his company would turn out to be the laughingstock in the business community, because of all the drama injected into those types of TV shows. The TV executive assured the realtor that the focus would be on the real estate properties, and not so much on the drama between the company’s personnel, but would include them to make the series even more palatable to the general public. The Oppenheim Group founder agreed, and the first episode was aired on 21 March 2019.

What is The Oppenheim Group?

“Selling Sunset” was all about the business activities, as well as the dealings of the personnel inside the real estate brokerage firm, The Oppenheim Group, owned and founded by twin brothers, Jason, and Brett Oppenheim. The family company had had a long, illustrious history in the real estate business since 1889 – it was the owners’ great, great-grandfather Jacob Stern who had started the business by establishing The Stern Realty Co. A barn on Jacob’s personal property was its first office, and it was on his property that the iconic buildings of Hollywood were built, including the Hollywood Plaza Hotel and the first movie studio of Paramount Pictures.

By the 1980s, Jason and Brett’s father had opened up The Oppenheim group, but it was closed down as the twin brothers were far more interested in trivial matters, leading them to being expelled from high school several times. It took a militaristic approach from their Vietnam-veteran father to discipline them, and it worked, as they both earned a Bachelor of Law degree, and landed jobs in prestigious law firms. Jason then pursued a career in real estate, and restarted the family company in 2014; his brother quickly followed his twin’s path, and managed it with him. It took Jason eight months to close his first deal, but establishing a great network of celebrity clients on Sunset Strip along the way, with the help of their licensed real estate agents.

The cast of “Selling Sunset”

Aside from the Oppenheim brothers, the original cast of “Selling Sunset” included five hardworking real estate agents – Maya was the first girl on the sales team who Jason hired. It didn’t take long for Heather Young, a former Playboy Playmate and actress to join the group; she had international connections, and said that the real estate business was all about building relationships. She was also known for being married to popular TV host Tarek El Moussa of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop.” Christine Quinn followed next, and was the go-to agent for those people who wanted expensive high-end residences. She claimed that luxury, glamour and style were synonymous with her name, which was the reason why affluent clients came to her. Mary Fitzgerald might not be the first to join the sales crew of the real estate brokerage firm, but she had been the first to acquire a real estate license. The last girl to join the group during the first season was actress Chrishell Stause, who was married to actor Justin Hartley at that time.

Posted by Selling Sunset on Sunday, May 31, 2020

Each season, new agent were added to the mix, including Davina Portratz, who had a recurring role during the first season, but was promoted to the regular cast in the following season, along with Amanza Smith. Sports Illustrated model Emma Hernan, who became Christine’s rival, joined in the fourth season, with Mexican-American telenovela star Vanessa Villela. The newest girl on the team was Chelsea Lazkani, who was initially based in London, and was introduced during the fifth season.

Maya Vander’s five seasons with “Selling Sunset”

When Maya first appeared in “Selling Sunset,” she was introduced as someone who wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty, as the world of real estate wasn’t always glamorous. She would go and look around real estate properties while they were still being constructed. From the get-go, she’d always believed that if the house was done right, and paired with nice finishes, she could easily sell it for a million dollars or more.

Flying back and forth between Los Angeles and Miami

Even after moving to Miami, Maya never stopped working for The Oppenheim Group. She would often stay a few days in Los Angeles, not only for filming the reality-TV show, but to meet up with potential buyers. Her husband knew how important her job was, and didn’t mind that Maya would fly back and forth. She said that as long as there were interested buyers for the listing of properties she was given by her boss, she was willing to show them around at a moment’s notice. That was what she did for the five seasons she appeared in the TV show.

Clients flirting and dealing with alcohol during parties or open houses

Looking like a supermodel might have advantages when a person was involved in sales, but it could also lead to endless flirting from potential buyers. Maya would often get offers, not caring if she was married or not. They even welcomed the fact that her husband lived in Miami, but Maya was a devoted wife and was upfront with her clients. She would ask the client about his intention the moment she felt a different vibe coming from him; she might be one of the nicest persons in “Selling Sunset,” but she wouldn’t take bullshit from anyone. Maya also learned the art of pretending to drink any alcoholic beverage during events, so as not to be a party pooper, but would often switch her drink to water to have a clear head.

Trying to be friends with the girls took time

Having smart, aggressive and beautiful women in one sales group could mean lots of drama, and “Selling Sunset” didn’t disappoint the fans in that aspect. While other girls had friction between them, Maya was often seen as someone who was always level-headed, logical, emphatic and honest without being insensitive. She shared that it took her almost two years before she could get close to Mary and Christine. Apparently, the girls were already roommates before they were hired at The Oppenheim Group, and they moved as one unit. At that time, Christine was kind of reluctant to let her into their lives, but Maya was eventually able to breakdown the wall.

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The girl with the least screen time on the TV show

While most of the girls in the cast of “Selling Sunset” scrambled to get their screen time by putting out controversial issues to create drama, Maya wasn’t bothered by it all. The producers might lose interest in her, and that was okay, since it wasn’t her thing. She said that it sure was exciting to be in a hit series, and it helped in getting her name out there, but she didn’t want to become involved in cat fights. Maya didn’t relish the soap opera-level drama that sometimes came with being in a reality-TV show, but knew that it was part of the business, and accepted that their viewers loved it.

Her pregnancies were shared with the viewers

One of the reasons why Maya was well-loved by “Selling Sunset” viewers, was because she inspired many women for keeping it real. In society, married women with kids were often expected to spend more time taking care of the home. To see her successfully navigate between work and family gave hope to many women out there who strived so hard every single day in juggling their time and energy.

Her pregnancies were well documented in the TV show, and everyone was happy when she shared the result of the pregnancy test she took with Chrishell during the first season. She gave birth in February 2019 to a son whom she named Aiden. By the following season, baby number two came along, and she named her Elle Madison. While filming for the fourth season, her pregnancy didn’t seem any different from her previous ones until her 37th week; she felt less movement, and when her doctors checked the baby, they couldn’t find any pulse. Maya had a stillbirth and named the baby boy, Mason. It was quite hard because she even filmed the baby shower for the fifth season. She and her husband had to go through therapy to help them move on from this traumatic experience.

Going away party for Maya, as she bid farewell to everyone

During the fifth season of “Selling Sunset,” The Oppenheim Group gave Maya a going away party at the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel. She wasn’t sure that everyone would attend, because of the issues between the girls, but Chrishell said that they could all bond together for their love of Maya. It was quite funny that Maya prioritized work even at her own party, as she told Brett that someone had made an offer for a property at $12.5 million; she asked if it was possible to make it work, since the original asking price was $13 million. Brett called the owners and they agreed. Meaning that Maya was going home to Miami with a hefty commission. Jason thanked her for being the first agent in the firm; Heather said that they had been the first team, and that she’d always looked up to her. Maya thanked all of them, and said that they might not always get along like a big family at Oppenheim, but not all family was perfect. She shared during the interview that it was like closing a chapter in her life, but she wanted to be closer to home, and have more time for her family.

Where is Maya Vander now?

Maya is still listed as one of The Oppenheim Group’s agents, but she wanted to focus on her own real estate brokerage firm in Miami, called The Maya Vander Group, which she established in 2020. As for the reality-TV show, “Selling Sunset,” she wasn’t closing the door permanently, but wouldn’t have time to film as part of the main cast, probably appearing as a recurring guest in the series.

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