"I can see an influence with new clients that are coming to your company for advice and help," Mahul admitted. "Those ones will stick with you if you are pretty--this is for sure." Realtors, of course, are thought of as notoriously put-together--primped, pomaded salesmen and saleswomen. But does that investment in personal attractiveness pay off in home prices? Apparently so, according to a study published last year in Applied Financial Economics by lead writer Sean P. Salter, associate professor of finance at Middle Tennessee State University. The paper, "Broker Beauty and Boon: A Study of Physical Attractiveness and Its Effect on Real Estate Brokers' Income and Productivity," finds 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." Countless studies show the relationship between a person's physical attractiveness and ability to influence others, and this persuasiveness seems to be the operative factor in home sales.
In residential real estate, Salter said, there is a recognized trade-off between the selling price and the time it takes to sell. But with the listing agent in particular, the more beautiful the realtor, the higher the selling price and the longer the house stays on the market. Those market dynamics are consistent with the strategy of listing agents who are willing to be patient for an uptick in price.
Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke, sees two opposing forces at play in our perception of realtors-actual skill and attractiveness. "It has to do with attribution about skill," he said. "So when you see somebody, you might say, 'Oh, this somebody is good, and this is how they got to where they are.' But if you see somebody very beautiful, you could say to yourself, 'Oh, this is somebody good but also very beautiful.' So how they got here would be a combination of both of those. And if they're very beautiful, they may have to be less good."