In case you haven’t noticed, real estate is all about perception – from how your listings are presented to how you, as an agent, are perceived. And that where professional real estate appearance come into play.
Call it “agent curb appeal.” It’s the clothes you wear, the car you drive, how you wear your hair and makeup and even how you present yourself online.
And, just as a home’s curb appeal, or lack thereof, can get people out of their cars or send then screeching down the street, so can your personal appeal make the difference between getting the listing and walking away with an unsigned agreement. That first impression is everything.
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Yup, a professional real estate appearance matters
And, by “professional real estate appearance,” we aren’t saying you need to be drop-dead, celebrity-caliber gorgeous to make it in real estate. When we judge another’s appearance we employ not only sight, but sound as well, and it’s all processed subliminally.
“… many of our social decisions essentially amount to a vote: whom do we hire, whom do we date, whom do we trust? … we like to think we are examining the person on his or her merits, not on looks. But are we?” asks Leonard Mlodinow, author of “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.”
And this all happens in the time it takes to blink an eye— within one-tenth of one second, to be exact. Sadly, “longer exposures don’t significantly alter” those first impressions, according to Eric Wargo on the Association of Psychological Science’s website.
Our faces tell people whether we are competent, likeable and trustworthy. In fact, in studies, trustworthiness was the trait that participants were able to assess most quickly.
Project your trustworthiness by smiling warmly and maintaining eye contact, recommends Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of “No One Understands You and What To Do About It.
She also says to sit up straight and nod frequently to show the other person that you’re listening.
Naked people have little or no influence on society
Or, so claimed Mark Twain. Believe it or not, psychologists have studied the ways our clothing influences others’ impressions of us. Ben C. Fletcher, professor of psychology and author, writes about one of these studies at PsychologyToday.com.
Study respondents formed judgements about a man within three seconds of glancing at photos of him. In one photo, the man wore a tailor-made suit while in the other he wore an off-the rack suit. His face was pixelated to avoid judgments made on his facial expressions or attractiveness.
When he wore the more expensive suit he was judged to be more confident and successful than when he wore the store-bought suit.
Dr. Fletcher also mentions another study of teachers that finds they treat their students differently, depending on what they are wearing.
“What we wear speaks volumes in just a few seconds,” he warns. “Dressing to impress really is worthwhile and could even be the key to success.”
Does this mean that agents should dress up to go to work? Not necessarily. Another study, conducted in 1986, found that casual (yet conservative) clothing portrays a “reliable and self-controlled personality.”
But dressing to impress whom? In fact, in the study, people in dressier clothes “created a sense of unease in others.”
So, what to wear? Match your choices to those of your clientele, suggests the oh-so-fashionable Herman Chan. “For example,” he says, “if you’re selling a junior, one-bedroom condo in a working-class neighborhood, you don’t want to show up in a Gucci suit and your Jimmy Choos because, well, that’s going to erect a barrier between you and the clients.”
Get Outta my Dreams, Get into my Car
When it comes to agents and the cars they drive, there is seldom agreement. While some agents believe that the luxury car they drive gives potential clients the impression that he or she is successful, others feel that if what they drive is presentable, they’re good to go.
We agree that many people assume that the driver of a luxury car is successful, we also don’t think that potential listing clients care that you make a lot of money. Their primary concern is that you’ll help them make money.
Most of us consider medicine to be a lucrative career and assume doctors make a lot of money, if they’re successful. Yet, most U.S. physicians don’t drive luxury cars. In fact, the largest share of them drive Toyotas and the second most popular vehicle for docs is a Honda, according to a MedScape survey.
Why does Mark Zuckerberg drive an Acura and fellow billionaire Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea, drive a 1993 Volvo 240? If Alice Walton, heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune can tool around in her 2006 Ford pickup, can you get away with it as a real estate agent?
That’s a lot of questions, but we have one more: If your lawyer drove an older Nissan Sentra would you find another lawyer?
Take Herman Chan’s wardrobe advice and apply it to the car you drive, and you’ll be fine.
Your online professional real estate appearance matters
We must hand it to the real estate industry – some of the best-looking websites we’ve seen belong to real estate agents and brokerages (and the very best are Easy Agent Pro sites).
Yet – can you believe this? Nearly 10 percent of you don’t have websites. Don’t get us started on how few agents have blogs on their sites. That just boggles the mind, doesn’t it? How can you demonstrate your online professional real estate appearances without a proper website?
Thank goodness you aren’t that dim. But, exactly what kind of professional real estate appearance does your site offer? Consider taking a survey friends, family and even former clients to get their opinions.
When considering your professional real estate appearance, compare it to staging. The former is real and lasting; it requires planning, action and maintenance. The latter, although enticing, is fake and is meant to disappear when the deal is done.
Since most of us believe that an agent’s highest duty is honesty, skip the staging and go for the curb appeal.
Owner & Operator,
The Elite Group
Largest Home Inspection Company in North America
Best Selling Author “Secrets Of Top Producing Real Estate Agents: And How To Duplicate Their Success.”