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The halo effect: why it pays to hire an attractive real estate agent

By Rebecca Zhang

They’ll sell you a home – and steal your heart.

A good-looking agent makes a significant difference to a property’s sale price, and can add up to $23,000 to the vendor’s pocket, research shows.

The saying goes that sex sells and that applies, perhaps surprisingly, to real estate transactions.

A team at an Australian university crunched the numbers – and looked at a lot of photos of handsome and beautiful agents – to determine whether buyers are swayed by a good-looking face.

Researchers at the University of NSW discovered attractive agents get 2.3 per cent more for their clients’ properties.

Lecturers Robert Tumarkin​ and Joakim Bang compared pictures of agents with the prices they achieved in the sale of high-end properties.

They found the “halo effect”, a term used in marketing and psychology to describe the bias shown towards good-looking people and the brands they are associated with, has an impact on the buying and selling of real estate.

That equates to $15,364 on top of the median Melbourne house price of $668,000.

In Sydney, that’s just over $23,014 on top of the median price; in Brisbane, it’s a bump of $11,289; for Perth vendors, it’s a $13,917 premium and in Adelaide, it amounts to $11,023.

If it sounds like puff, take pause, because there is even a term for studying the role of attraction in economics and the labor market – pulchronomics.

Some agents, whether aware or not of the halo effect, have not been shy about putting themselves on show.

One Victorian agent, Levi Turner of Bellarine Property, went topless in a marketing video this year for a home on the Bellarine Peninsula, promoting three bedrooms and a six pack.

To determine whether an agent is hot or not, the UNSW researchers used independent testing.

Because just as choosing a home is a matter of preference, so too is beauty in the eye of the beholder.


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