For some real estate agents, the pressure to give off a flawless appearance leads to plastic surgery and costly, age-defying medical procedures.
For some real estate agents, plastic surgery and various age-defying procedures such as Botox are a regular part of the job.
In Minnesota, a 35-year-old Re/Max real estate agent named Melanie had been getting regular Botox injections to eliminate dark circles around her eyes. In California, an agent named Julie said she had her lips enhanced years ago but later had to get surgery to reverse the procedure. Cynthia Cantu-Tucker, a Keller Williams Realtor who spent more than a decade working on patient care at a plastic surgeon’s office in Texas, had a chance to see the industry’s love of plastic surgery even before she became an agent herself.
“Men were doing it, women were doing it,” Cantu-Tucker, who herself has had a tummy-tuck, Botox and post-cancer breast reconstruction, told Inman. “When you’re good-looking, you’re more likely to get someone to come up to you to talk about real estate as opposed to someone who is heavy or not taken care of.”
The dangers of poor plastic surgery made national news last month when a Texas real estate agent died after a rhinoplasty in Mexico went horribly wrong. Laura Avila, 36, had traveled to Juarez, Mexico, for a cheaper rate on surgery, but, due to incorrectly administered anesthesia, experienced a rapid drop in blood pressure, brain swelling and cardiac arrest.
“It’s been a nightmare” Avila’s sister, Angie Avila, told Inman, adding that she imagined her sister, like other agents, felt pressure to put on a certain appearance.
Melissa Doft, a plastic surgeon working out of New York City, also said that real estate professionals were among the most common groups of professionals to visit her office. Facelifts, necklifts, eyelid surgeries, nose jobs and wrinkle treatments like Botox are some of the most popular surgery procedures, she said.
“The stress to look your best is likely more in the real estate industry as it is a sales-based business with face-to-face interactions,” Doft told Inman. “No one wants to be asked, ‘When are you going to retire?'”
Indeed, Melanie said that the Botox helps her appear less tired and more young while Julie thought the lip enhancement would make her look more on-trend.
For many, the equation is as simple as “youthful look equals more leads.” Mark McFadden, a real estate agent with Washington Fine Properties, once acknowledged spending $5,000 to $10,000 to secure top clients and multimillion-dollar listings.
But Cantu-Tucker said that it is not just high-flying agents with celebrity clients who are considering plastic surgery — she’s seen both teens and pensioners from all over the country get work done.
“It’s all about the look in real estate,” she said, adding that youth makes clients assume that someone is more up-to-date with the industry. “[If you have] the work done and keep up with yourself, you’re going to get the better leads because people are looking for someone who is going to present not only themselves but the property,” she said.
As a result, some agents reported feeling pressure to have a perfect appearance to stand out from competitors and secure the best clients. Doft added that clients working in real estate most often ask about facial procedures due to concerns about how they will appear in face shots for websites and business cards.
“As in many industries, professionals want to feel young and on the pulse of what is happening,” she said.
For many, plastic surgery — when done right — is nothing more than a way to control one’s appearance and presentation just like one would with an aging property. David Parnes, a luxury real estate agent working with The Agency, once reflected on his trio of nose jobs on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. He got the first one for a deviated septum and two more to correct the work of the first.
Still, plastic surgery costs can be very expensive (according to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average face lifts starts at $7,448 in the United States) and many still want the procedures while looking for ways to bring down the costs. According to Avila, several people said that her family’s story had made them reconsider getting plastic surgery in countries with lax regulations — or even altogether.
“A few people have reached out and said that they were considering getting surgeries in Mexico and are now not going to or are at least going to do more research,” said Avila, whose family is now in the process of suing the clinic that treated Laura.
But according to both Doft and Cantu-Tucker, jobs that rely on sales and interactions with clients are often ruthless when it comes to personal appearance — which means that solutions may not be as simple as just not getting the surgery or “loving yourself as you are.” In other words, professional interest in plastic surgery will not be going away any time soon.
“It is your face that is being put out there to advertise that particular home,” Cantu-Tucker said.