Agents Flashing Wealth - good or bad for business?

Darren Moffatt

Personally, I've never been that hot for cars. It's just not my thing.

Don't get me wrong, I like toys but vintage guitars and fine wine are more my style (hint hint, Santa). But I totally get the (very human) need to sometimes splash out and reward yourself for hard work. Hell, who needs an excuse? Sometimes it's fun to indulge simply because you can.  

Which brings us to today's article in the SMH. In a hard-hitting investigative piece, perhaps the journalistic scoop of the year, this article reveals that eastern suburbs real esate agents like - wait for it - FLASH CARS. 

Pass the smelling salts, I think I'm going to faint.

Yes, you know we're in the silly season or the market's in a coma when the car your agent drives is apparently 'news'.

It does raise an interesting question though: is it good or bad for business when agents and other property professionals flaunt such ostentatious displays of wealth?

Early in my career, a successful businessman offered what I thought was a pretty sage piece of advice at the time. It went something like this: 

"Son, when dealing with the public choose your car carefully. If you rock up to a potential client's house in a bomb, you won't get the business. If you rock up in brand new top of the line luxury sports car, they'll think you're doing too well or charging too much, and you won't get the business. The best car you can drive is a clean, late model standard sedan. European is OK, but Australian better."

Clearly he was warning me against the negative power of envy. Is the 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' still a killer out there? In this day and age that advice sounds a bit quaint. The accepted wisdom these days seems to be that we all live in highly consumerist, aspirational society where everyone wants the Beemer/Aston Martin/Bentley, not just eastern suburbs real estate agents.

Think I'm wrong? One of the biggest hits in the last few years was 'Billionaire' by Bruno Mars. You know the one; the refrain goes 'I want to be a billionaire, so freakin' bad...' It's had 138 million views on YouTube. If that's not a zeitegist, I don't know what is.

I suspect that what might work in one market, would go down like a bucket of cold soup in another. For instance, whilst matching Aston Martins might be cute in Double Bay, I'm not sure you'd see many successful agents in Penrith or Essendon driving Ferraris to work.

One thing's for certain though, the car dealers in Sydney's eastern suburbs must LOVE real estate agents.