If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Realtors may be in the running for one of the holiest professions because of their squeaky clean cars.
Sure, it’s a bit of a stereotype to say Realtors have immaculate cars, but … isn’t it also sort of true? Curious, I set out to investigate this phenomenon and talked to several Realtors in DFW about the state of their vehicles.
The most passionate advocate I found was Harriet Shaw, a Realtor with Keller Williams Urban on Turtle Creek. Shaw says her tidy ways began in childhood with a mom who kept the house so clean, you could eat off the floor. But today, she keeps her Mercedes Benz, which she calls her “shiny little piece,” in showroom condition.
“I think my clothes, my shoes, my hair, my car are all an extension of my business, in the sense that if I reflect an attention to detail in every area of my life, that is someone I would want to do business with,” Shaw said. “It is congruous with everything else I do in my real estate business. I want my clients to know that I am coming in as a woman and Realtor who gives attention to every detail—the smallest little thing is important to me.”
To keep her car in tip-top condition, Shaw carries bottled water, towels, and leather wipes in her car for daily interior wipe-downs, as well as wheel shine and Handi Wipes for exterior cleaning. She even keeps a small vacuum cleaner in the trunk for the carpets.
A little OCD? Sure, says Shaw. But it’s totally worth it.
“The busier I am, the more I clean the car—I find it wonderful to walk out to a clean car because it gives me a sense of pride,” she said.
Shaw says the very nature of real estate work makes for more dirt and grime in and on a car, from high mileage and multiple passengers to getting in and out frequently and storing things like yard signs in the interior or trunk.
“My shoes tend to track in a lot of dust and dirt, and I carry things that if I put them down, lord only knows what’s going to come off of them—and I put them in the trunk or sometimes in the front seat,” she said.
One of the consistent theories I heard from Realtors is that a dirty or messy car creates a situation that is open to negative interpretation by clients. The belief is that a client might think, “this agent is a slob” or “my Realtor is disorganized.” Not exactly the kinds of perceptions that promote confidence or sales.
Ebby Halliday Realtor Elaine Copeland follows a fairly regular schedule in keeping her Honda Civic EX Coupe spic and span.
“As a Realtor, we are independent contractors, and we typically keep our cars clean, and in like-new condition, in order to best serve our clients as a greeting place and sometimes an office space,” Copeland said. “Typically, I have my car vacuumed and washed weekly. For easy service, my office enjoys the services of a local mobile auto detailing company, who comes to our parking lot once a week, and provides a spectacular car cleaning.”
Joe Kobell, a Realtor at Ebby Halliday’s Little White House, says he learned about the importance of a clean vehicle back when started.
“I’ve been with Ebby a long time and in the Ebby training school, we used to have part of the class that was about keeping your car clean and well maintained,” Kobell said. “We even learned in the summer to keep iced bottled water in the back in a chest.”
Kobell has a special vehicle he maintains, a black 1977 Cadillac limo that used to belong to Halliday’s husband.
“I keep that immaculately maintained and detailed and I have a car cover for it, but it’s just used for fun now, like looking at Christmas lights,” he said. “It can’t go through regular car washes has to be hand-washed.”
Simone Jeanes, Senior Vice President of Residential Sales at Virginia Cook Realtors, says she always get a car wash on the mornings she’ll have a buyer in her vehicle because, “Who can see houses and neighborhoods through dirty windows?”
“A clean car promotes good business practices! I think of my car as my office. It is a pet peeve of mine to have clients in a dirty car,” Jeanes said. “I wash my car two-to-three times a week, especially when showing buyers [properties].”
But don’t all these car washes get pricey, especially in unpredictable Texas weather, where skies can go from blue to gray, and back to blue in one afternoon?
Absolutely. And professional car cleaners understand that, with many offering discounts to Realtors. A few of those in Dallas who are “Realtor-friendly” include:
Adams Mobile Detailing, 469-363-7392
Carmel Car Wash, 6140 E. Mockingbird Ln., 469-208-WASH
Forest Carwash, 5415 Forest Ln., 972-385-1533
White Rock Car Bath, 10229 Garland Rd., 214-328-1277
Wave Wash, 4616 Greenville Ave. 214-739-9116
Other money-saving tips I heard were to watch for “early-bird specials” at car washes, usually between 8 and 10 a.m.; asking about frequent user cards that collect points with each service and earn rewards; and collecting Tom Thumb register receipts, which often have $3 off coupons for local car washes.
Some Realtors choose their vehicle in part for the extras they offer.
“I drive a Mercedes Benz and you get free car washes, which is a real perk for a Realtor,” Shaw said. “Sewell Lexus does that, as does Park Place and Plano Mercedes. Most of the dealership wants to service you.”
So, Realtors reading this, how do you keep your car spotless? Do you have any tips to share? Leave us a comment!