For real estate agents, image is key and often their cars make the first impression. While a sleek Mercedes and a gold watch were once the hallmarks of a successful agent, some experienced agents think that flashy image is doing damage to the reputation of the entire profession.
“A lot of people are coming into the business for the wrong reasons, thinking about how easy it is to make money as an agent,” said veteran real estate agent Justin Kua. “But they’re not thinking about how they can serve the industry and, more importantly, their clients.”
But appearances are still key, with a well-kempt agent – most often in a suit – the industry’s standard bearer. Still, grasping for the trappings of success far beyond that ideal can land younger agents in hot water, cautions Kua.
“Being self-employed, you’ll find there are a lot of expenses, just like any business,” he says. “Don’t be swayed by what someone who has been in the business for 15 years looks like; focus on what they’ve been doing to survive in the industry that long.”
Indeed, Kua represents increasingly popular industry thinking, which takes the emphasis off cars and clothes and places it squarely on studying and training to attract and maintain client relationships.
“When [new agents] don’t take time to develop a passion for the business or they don’t have a mentor, they develop unrealistic expectations,” he explains. “I’d first say find a mentor who can coach you and give you the proper perspective before you look at Mercedes lease options and custom suits.”
There are, however, limits on just how much to skimp on your accessories. Broker Alana Stockholm told REP, “I used to drive a Toyota – great gas mileage, cheap to run, and I thought it showed that I wasn’t overcharging. I had a long-time client who one day I found had appointed someone else to sell their home. Of course I wanted to know why, so I asked them. They said, ‘Alana, I really like you but you know, you just don’t look successful.’ I went straight out and bought a Lexus.”
What do you drive? How much do you rely on your image to make a good impression ?