Will you make more sales if you upgrade your car?

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While a sleek Mercedes and a gold watch were once the hallmarks of a successful real estate agent, some experienced agents think that flashy image is doing damage to the reputation of the entire profession. How do brokers compare?

“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,” veteran agent Justin Kua tells our sister publication, REP. “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 of cars and clothes and places it squarely on study and training as a means of attracting and retaining 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’re 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.”

 CMP will run its Broker Lifestyle feature in November’s magazine. Watch out for that to see how broker sentiments stack up to their Realtor counterparts. 
  • Ron Butler on 2014-10-23 12:58:38 PM

    I found you, Mercedes Benz.

  • Jake Abramowicz on 2014-10-23 2:09:24 PM

    I happily drive a vw. In lending I think it's a bit different than in real estate brokering. I don't want to show up to my client's house in a brand new M5 primarily because they may think "oh, here comes the loan shark".

    And hey, there's nothing wrong with a top-of-the-line VW, it's the same thing as an Audi only $20K cheaper!

  • John Gimblett on 2014-10-24 8:57:12 AM

    The quality of a mortgage agents car doesn't bother me all that much, however I just can't reconcile a mortgage agent showing up at a client's house with their auto "wrapped" with advertising. There just seems to be a disconnect with confidentiality.

  • OkanaganBroker on 2014-10-24 2:19:44 PM

    You have got to be kidding me?
    Haven't we learned anything from Warren Buffett or Richard Branson? Wear what you want, drive what you want, be damn good at what you do, do good in your community and clients and business partners will respect that, and probably remember you a heck of a lot better than just being another guy in a suit or driving a Mercedes to "fit in". This is such old school thinking...and if a client or business partner wants to judge me by what I drive or wear I wouldn't want to work with them anyways. Be confident in yourself, your abilities & knowledge and live by your own rules, not those of others.

  • Financially Conscience Broker on 2014-10-24 4:03:49 PM

    As financial professionals, it almost seems backwards to be promoting driving brand new vehicles with payments of $500-$1,000/m instead of following our own advice and putting that extra money towards our mortgages to become mortgage free faster. I would sooner trust a financial advisor that drove an older vehicle and was mortgage free rather than one who had the latest greatest everything and was in debt up to their eyeballs. Old school thinking maybe, but that is how I was raised. Not that new vehicles are a bad thing, but just not the most important factor in determining success I would say.

  • Georgetown Broker on 2014-10-29 10:44:20 AM

    Ask a Buyer or Seller who they'd want to represent them? A Realtor driving an expensive car and renting their home or apartment, or a Realtor driving a serviceable car who owns a number of properties themselves. It continuously surprises me how many Realtors there are out there who have never owned a property themselves, and never will because they're spending it faster than they're making it, in the illusions of success and wealth. We aren't car salesmen, we're Realtors. I'd rather invest $60,000 on an investment property, rather than on a vehicle which is worth half that in 3 years! I drive a 6 year old car, get it detailed regularly, and will drive it till it dies. It hurts me to throw money away. My business is Real Estate and that's what I practice and live everyday.

  • Jake Abramowicz on 2014-10-29 1:04:47 PM

    Bottom line is - nobody is right or wrong. SOME customers are impressed with BMWs, others with real estate portfolios, others with t-shirt wearing brokers, others with guys in 3 piece suits. Good luck out there.

  • M. Robertson on 2014-10-29 4:41:17 PM

    The fact of the matter is that a car is just a status symbol and we have fallen into the trap that a fancy car means success. The reality is that anyone can drive a BMW, Audi, Mercedes, etc. It's all about the monthly payment and has nothing to do what-so-ever with the actual financial success of the person driving the car.

    What I find most amusing is that people continually complain about the cost of housing, the cost of education, etc etc - but think nothing of driving a $100,000 car that is a depreciating asset and offer no true value to my life other than to boost my ego and show off to my neighbours.

    First World Problems People. First World Problems.

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