From comedian Andy Kindler in the recent issue of Time Out New York:

Why do real estate agents have head shots? Are there people who think, Well I’d like to buy this house, but what if the person selling it looks like a wolf?

A friend of mine recently described himself as a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Besides being in danger of wearing out the whole wolf metaphor thing, this photo idea has always gnawed at me (ok, ok, sorry).

Over the past decade, it had become de rigueur in the real estate sales business to insert a head shot on the agent’s business cards. At some point, someone thought it helped personalize the agent, to bridge a better connection between the consumer and the agent.

It has always bother me for reasons I can’t explain. Office managers, lawyers, accountants, appraisers, bankers, home inspectors and many mortgage brokers I know that are connected with the real estate profession don’t seem to have photos on their business cards. Why?

I worry that the photo is on the card for the wrong reason. It is somehow another tool to soften the need to meet face to face and build a direct rapport. A logical extension of voicemail.

Somehow I can’t picture it so please clue me in.



6 Responses to “Wolves, Sheep and Business Card Head Shots”

  1. Doug Quance says:

    It’s not just the business cards, Jon. It’s on signs and everything else.

    I use mine on my card and a few other select place… like property brochures… so I do follow the logic – but sometimes I wonder as well.

    I don’t even use my name on “for sale” signs in yards. Just my website URL.

  2. I don’t have my photo on my business card but I do have it on web page and brochures. In a market where people are meeting so many agents/brokers, it may help a bit with them remembering who you are. Having said that, an agents actions are more likely to make them memorable than a mugshot on the biz card. I won’t be putting my photo on my business cards anytime soon though.

  3. John K says:

    Hmmm.

    Hmmm.

    I don’t know. I always thought a photo on a business card was kind of dumb. Like, if a buyer only wanted me to be his agent (or not) based on my looks, did I even want his business?

    Having said that, I have my picture on my blog. The idea was to give readers a sense of what I looked like – I’m wearing a suit, I’m smiling, I’m not old, I’m hot.

    I thought that this would appeal to the largest segment of readers.

    But now I’m thinking it might be kind of silly.

    But, on the other side, simply, it’s my brand – it’s me. That’s all it does. It’s like the Nike swoosh, right?

    Not sure.

  4. Marcus Burke says:

    Hi there Mr Miller! You know what it bugged the hell out of me too, and it’s bothered me for years. But I think I have an answer for you. I’m not sure it’s the real reason agents do it (I think they just do it because it’s expected) but here’s a good reason at least: I attend a lot of real estate functions and I probably collect 20 business cards a week, which I put into my ‘business card’ binder. I’m hopeless with names, but very good with faces, and often times, if it weren’t for the fact that some of these folks ugly mugs were featured I’d have absoultey no idea who they were or how the hell they made their way into my binder! When people have open houses and 30 real estate agents show up, the photos allow you to go back through the pile of business cards two days or a week later and figure out who you actually wanted to do business with. “No, not the nasty cow with the blond hair, you remember? Yes, that one, the brunette with the large t*ts, that’s her!” It’s a great memory jogger but I only figured this out recently. I still don’t have my photo on my card, but I think I’m going to get one now – a photo of a wolf.

  5. Sock Puppet says:

    I thought it was State Law we had to have a 20 year out of date photo on business cards.

  6. Studio Rat says:

    If you can’t see the picture, you run the risk of accidentally setting up meetings with people of color, or women (some names don’t reveal race or gender, after all). When clients say they’re drawn to someone because they “feel comfortable with their picture” isn’t that at least partially what they’re saying? If real estate agents attempt to put out pictures of themselves with which clients can become comfortable, are they enabling racism? I’m not saying there aren’t other practical reasons to at least consider a picture, or that it’s explicit, but it’s worth a thought.