I about died when I saw this Realtor ad on AOL Real Estate — of course it’s from a Canadian firm. The Canuks can just get away with more than we can when it comes to billboard advertising.

Or can they?

So I started thinking back to local ads I’ve seen from our Dallas agents. Who do you think has the best ad of them all? The craziest? My vote goes to Clay Stapp for his orange condoms strapped to a card — see for yourself!

So why do agents advertise themselves so dang much and what does it get them?

I am being interviewed by a guy named Mark Ellwood who is writing a book called BARGAIN FEVER:Why We’re Obsessed with Getting More for Less. The book will be published by Penguin-Portfolio, due out in April of 2013. Mark says that we Americans are OBSESSED with bargains. We are talking about the real estate connection, of course, and the lengths people will go to to get their homes sold. Mark says that 10 years ago, retailers sold just 15-20% of their inventory at some kind of promo price – today, that number is 40-45%. Put simply, sales of sales have more than doubled in a decade.

And don’t think real estate is exempt!

In another post, I’ll delve into this. But while I was answering some questions for Mark, I mused on how much trouble and cost Realtors go to to create a brand for themselves. They spend THOUSANDS. (He was amazed.) Are these costs passed onto the consumer? You betcha! Look at any vanity ad in a glossy magazine and know that the agent spent at least $3,000 to $5,000 for his or her hair, make-up, wardrobe, consultant fees, skin care, microderm, Botox, photographer, all this before they even swipe the credit card for their ad! I firmly believe this is what got Eleanor Mowery Sheets in trouble, among other things.

Mark asked me what agents spend their money on  — how much time do you have, I responded? Branding, ads, marketing their clients’ properties and it does not come cheap. Most agents tell me they advertise clients’ homes in print for the sheer sake of their clients, to appease them. They KNOW it does no good, they KNOW everyone is on line looking for real estate, but they still fall in line like good sheep and continue to waste more paper.

As for the vanity ads, I get it, branding. But how important will branding be when everyone in America is looking for a bargain — when buying real estate on sale is the norm?

America, says Mark, has transformed into a country where everyone has caught bargain fever.

Discounts happen more frequently and with deeper price slashing than even a decade ago: where once sales were used to juice traffic on certain days, Groupon and its ilk have made sales a daily concept. Discounts are no longer the exception, they’re the norm. It isn’t just blue‐collars who are budget‐watchers any more ‐ white collar execs from managers to CEOs are now deal chasing, too. In less than four years, the number of people who only buy clothes when they’re on sale has gone up from 16% to 23%, almost a quarter of the population. And among those earning $150,000 or more it’s accelerated even more ‐ from 10% to 20% (Salmon Research).

Does anyone really think it’s smart to pay full price any more? No, and you know it: the richer the client, the harder they will drive the housing bargain!

So I ask you, if this trickles down to real estate, which it will, why are agents spending thousands on vanity ads, hair and make-up other than the fact that — it’s oh so much fun?