We’ve all heard the quote “dress for the career that you want”, but should it apply to the vehicle you drive as well? One of the most frequent arguments real estate agents hear is whether or not they should drive a nice car. Some of these debates get quite heated online, with agents from all sides stating why they feel nice cars are or are not beneficial.
One common reason why agents say they should drive nice cars is because it projects the image of success. On the flip side, some agents are dedicated to driving budget cars so their clients feel they can relate to them. But in reality, the answer really depends on the experiences the agent actually has on the job.
In most cases, the vehicle that an agent chooses really just depends on their overall success and how much they have to spend. This is why it's not surprising that high-earning agents are 172% more likely to purchase and drive a luxury car rather than something more budget-friendly. And when it comes to agents who earn the least, they are 282% more likely to drive something like a minivan.
For some agents finding a car is as simple as choosing what they like, but for others they take many more factors into consideration. What side of the divide do you fall on? Let’s take a look at why people feel one is right over the other, and that may help you see the views of others in this industry.
The Argument for Luxury Cars
This business is very image-oriented in my opinion and you attract what you project, said - David Fresquez
I have a friend here in Atlanta who drives his Ferrari to see clients. He sold over $143 million last year.” - Greg Lyles
The quotes above are just a couple from a discussion on "Raise the Bar in Real Estate", which is a Facebook group for agents in the field. And they by far were not the only ones who felt this way, with many other agents and clients agreeing with them.
- Projecting Success
The argument for individuals on this side is pretty easy to see, even if you don’t necessarily agree. They simply feel that if you want clients to think you’re successful and can help them, you have to show that you’re successful enough to own a nice car. Of course “nice” has a different meaning to everyone, so for some this could be a fully loaded Lexus, while for others it could mean a Lamborghini.
However, a lot of agents say that they are “pro-luxury” , but that it’s important to find a balance with what you purchase. This means choosing something that is sleek and nice, but not obnoxious. “I think I’m going to get an Acura next. [it’s a] Good mix of successful, but not overpaid”said Dawn Brenengen.
- Shows You’re Good At What You Do
Agents who drive a nice car want to project a classy, successful image to their clients, so they choose the style and brand they feel will accomplish that. One of their biggest arguments is that a nice car gives the client confidence that they do their job well, so why wouldn't they trust them to sell or buy their home?
- Avoid Disappointing Specific Clients
It’s true that image is important in this field, and everything from attire to vehicles can play a role in what the client thinks. In fact, one commenter online stated that they lost out on a deal because the client said their vehicle was “too dumpy” to drive customers in. Ouch! That just goes to show that individuals who vote for luxury do have a point.
Now that you’ve looked at things from the “luxury car supporter” perspective, let’s look at the flip side: the people who support budget cars.
The Argument for Budget Cars
If you’re someone who feels that budget cars are best for most real estate agents, then you’re part of a large group of people. There are many reasons they feel it’s not worth it to spend a lot on a car, and some of the most common include:
- You’re Still The Same Agent
It’s true that even if you drive the nicest car out there, you could still be a really bad real estate agent. That’s why some professionals feel they shouldn’t be judged by their vehicle, but on the actual work that they do for their client. They feel that if a client is going to judge them based on their vehicle, they must not have been the right fit for their service anyway.
- Puts Client At Ease
A lot of agents also say that driving regular cars that most everyday people have really help put the client at ease. It helps them relate, and for most people, that’s something they take very seriously.
- Avoid Losing Money
Another point to consider is that some clients will determine how much money they are willing to spend when they see the car that the person their working with drives up in. Brendan Clemmens, who posted on the Facebook group discussion, said that sometimes people think just because an agent is driving a nice car, they deserve to get a discount because they clearly don’t need the money.
- Some People Don’t Care
There’s a lot of truth with this point, because a lot of clients have absolutely no opinion about the car that their agent drives. They simply want them to contact them regularly, help them in a comprehensive manner and have a successful transaction. The last thing on their mind is the make and model that the agent shows up in, so why should they spend extra on a luxury vehicle?
The “It Depends On My Field” Argument
- Luxury VS. Budget
For many real estate agents, the vehicle they purchase is completely dependent on the type of clients they work with. If they are mainly focused on high-end luxury real estate, then they choose luxury vehicles that clients are more likely to related to. If they are focused on helping distressed clients find affordable deals, then they are more likely to choose budget vehicles without the name brand.
It’s easy to see why this works, especially when you look at things as a client. How would you feel if you were looking at a foreclosure that you could barely afford, when your agent came driving up in a brand new Mercedes? While this might not bother some people, it could certainly rub others the wrong way.
The same could be said for luxury clients as well, especially since many are very particular about the image they want to portray. Some agents said their upper-bracket clients feel they have more credibility because they drive a luxury vehicle, making it vital to their career as a whole.
- Location of Sale
And one situation that you might not think about until you're in it is the area where you live or are making a deal. Brandon Kekich, who services clients in Detroit, said: “Not as often as we used to, but as recently as two years ago we have lost high $$$$ listings because we did not pull up in a domestic [vehicle].” And Jeff Boyd said “I’ve seen a Bentley roll up to a bread-and-butter house in Lake Forest and the clients were off-put, but cruising around Newport Coast or Beverly Hills it would be expected.”
There will always be clients who really don’t care whether the agent they are working with shows up in an Escalade or on a bicycle, but there seem to be more who really do take it to heart. That’s why most professionals in this field take their driving choice so seriously, and carefully consider what they invest in.
The “I Drive What I Drive” Argument
When it comes to the rest of the real estate agents out there, they simply drive what they drive! Sure higher-paid agents might show up in a BMW or a newly leased luxury vehicle every other month, but that’s generally just because they have the means to do so, and they love what they drive. There are also agents who choose hybrids, electric vehicles and bikes because they are environmentally friendly.
However, just because people in this camp want to purchase what they like doesn’t mean they don’t think about their career as well. The only difference is they aren’t making their decision based on what the client thinks, but how they can service them better.
For example, they might choose on the fact that one car gets better gas mileage, which is great because they are willing to drive long and far to meet their clients. They could also choose based on a spacious interior, which comes in handy when they’re driving clients around potential homes to purchase.
Final Thoughts: How Do You Feel?
It’s unfortunate that even the most helpful and all-around great real estate agent can be judged by just the car that they drive, but that’s the world we live in today. If the agent chooses to adapt to that, they may end up seeing more success even though they changed nothing about their actual service. This isn’t always the case, but it certainly can happen with many types of clients.
Is changing your car something you would do as an agent? Or as a client, would you judge the person you hired based on their choice of vehicle? There are good points on each side, but ultimately there’s no “perfect answer”. Simply said, if you want to have a successful career, you should be good at what you do. This means providing clients with great service, and being there to help them with their needs.
However, keep in mind that there’s a lot said for keeping a clean car. Take the time to go to the car wash and vacuum out your vehicle before you show up to an appointment with a client. This is especially crucial if you are going to drive them around and want to give them a good first impression. Other than that, all you can do is be hard-working, there for them and ready to take on any work that needs to be done!
I am a licensed member of the Real Estate Council of Alberta since 2005 - proudly representing CIR REALTY, Calgary’s largest real estate brokerage. I enjoy keeping my readers up to date with real estate related information that they can easily understand and use for their own benefit. I welcome feedbacks and comments equally from first-time visitors to my blog, past clients and also from my fellow REALTOR® colleagues. Thanks for stopping by!