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May 8th, 2012

Study: Attractive real estate agents get higher prices for homes

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Fran Images--SoldAs if beautiful women don’t have enough going for them, recent research on the physical attractiveness of real estate brokers found that attractive female real estate agents often sell luxury homes at higher prices than men or less-attractive agents.

The downside is that the homes they sell stay on the market longer than those of other agents, according to the study, “Broker beauty and boon: a study of physical attractiveness and its effect on real estate brokers’ income and productivity.” Attractive agents also sell fewer houses and they don’t earn any more income annually than less-attractive agents.

For sellers, having an attractive real estate agent pays off with a higher selling price, although the research doesn’t say how much more money sellers will likely get.

Attracted to luxury

“It’s possible that better-looking people are more trustworthy, and better-looking people are more confident,” says Marina Adshade, an economics professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who teaches a class called “Economics of Sex and Love.”

Women usually don’t make more money than men, Adshade says, although the study, conducted by three business professors, finds that attractive real estate agents can sell luxury homes at higher prices. According to the study, “Results suggest that beauty augments more attractive agents’ wages and that more attractive agents use beauty to supplement classic production-related characteristics such as effort, intelligence and organizational skills.”

In other words, they use their beauty to augment their other abilities.

The researchers controlled for the quality of the house, including characteristics such as home size, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, and whether the house had features such as hardwood flooring, brick siding and granite countertops.

What’s likely, says Adshade (who wrote about the study on her blog), is that attractive agents attract better listings, which are normally on the market for longer periods because they sell at higher prices. The homes may take longer to sell because the attractive agents know they don’t have to work too hard to sell homes, and that their good looks will help them make a sale, she says.

Using looks to your advantage

Tampa Bay real estate broker Karyn Anjali Glubis says she uses her good looks to get clients, focusing on high-end homes that sell for $1 million or more. Glubis is 40 and says she looks 10 years younger since losing 37 pounds five years ago.

“I use my sexuality to my advantage,” says Glubis, who estimates that 25 percent of her male clients hit on her when they first meet her.

“I’m showing them homes, and they’re more interested in what I look like,” she says.

Her education and expertise take over after the initial impression, she says, adding that her income has increased fourfold since she lost weight and has gotten in shape.

“I know I make more money because of what I look like,” she says. “I use that to my advantage in more ways than people realize.”

Not always a beauty contest

Diane Saatchi, a New York real estate agent who specializes in luxury homes, says she can see how a wife might allow a husband to flirt with an attractive agent if such flirting persuades the husband to spend more money on a home that the wife really wants. But the Long Island homes that Saatchi sells aren’t typically sold by “knock-out beautiful” agents.

“It’s not a beauty contest by any means,” she says of the top brokers in the Hamptons.

While a woman’s beauty may have its place in the real estate market–with Saatchi and other brokers putting their photos on their business cards and ads for listed homes–a photo of a home is often enough to attract buyers, Saatchi says.

“I think that good looks really help everybody, no matter what it is,” she says.

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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