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Good-looking agents get higher sale prices in Australia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2015, 6:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2015, 11:52am

Good-looking real estate agents get higher prices for the properties they sell, according to a study by the University of New South Wales business school in Australia.

The researchers' results, arrived at by matching photographs of estate agents, who had been rated on attractiveness in independent tests, with property sales where the average investment was A$500,000, showed that good-looking agents were achieving substantial price premiums.

"Our research shows that the degree of attractiveness of an estate agent spills over into the property they are selling, making it more attractive in the minds of buyers," said senior lecturer Robert Tumarkin, who conducted the study with colleague Joakim Bang. It focused on the Australian market, where buyers are directly exposed to the property and the agent at the same time.

The new research examines the effects of a "standard deviation increase" in physical attractiveness. For each increase in the attractiveness of a real estate agent, the final selling price of a property rose by 2.3 per cent.

"I was curious about why in Australia there is so much emphasis on the estate agents - and not on the property they are selling," Tumarkin said. "There's a huge incentive to be as rational as possible when buying a home. This is a unique feature of the Australian market where selling agents show properties directly to buyers."

In the United States, buyer and seller agents represented each party's interests, he said, and selling agents almost never met the buyers.

Some states in the US, such as Washington, have banned "lookism" or the act of discriminating against someone because of their appearance, while British laws like the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 prevented much of the property advertising seen in Australia.

"There it is rare to see photographs of the agent, and the property is presented just as it is," Tumarkin said.