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Can a Hot Realtor Get You More Bang for Your Buck?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) --Marie-Charlotte Mahul has a flawlessly symmetrical face featuring crystalline-blue eyes, a button nose and luscious lips. Her body looks great in a two piece--she's a former model, after all--and she has an adorable French accent, to boot. She also just happens to be a a realtor at Majestic Properties in Miami.

In a housing market with properties increasingly underwater, some realtors have realized the secret to success may be posing as if they're headed out for a swim--with women scantily-clad in bikinis and men shirtless and muscular. Though Mahul's not convinced "about looks being a huge asset in our industry," it certainly doesn't hurt that photos of her in skimpy skivvies are just a click away, especially as the spring real estate season heats up.

"I can see an influence with new clients that are coming to your company for advice and help," Mahul admitted. "Those ones will stick with you if you are pretty--this is for sure."

Realtors, of course, are thought of as notoriously put-together--primped, pomaded salesmen and saleswomen. But does that investment in personal attractiveness pay off in home prices?

Apparently so, according to a study published last year in Applied Financial Economics by lead writer Sean P. Salter, associate professor of finance at Middle Tennessee State University. The paper, "Broker Beauty and Boon: A Study of Physical Attractiveness and Its Effect on Real Estate Brokers' Income and Productivity," finds that "beauty augments more attractive agents' wages and that more attractive agents use beauty to supplement classic production-related characteristics such as effort, intelligence and organizational skills."

Countless studies show the relationship between a person's physical attractiveness and ability to influence others, and this persuasiveness seems to be the operative factor in home sales.

In residential real estate, Salter said, there is a recognized trade-off between the selling price and the time it takes to sell. But with the listing agent in particular, the more beautiful the realtor, the higher the selling price and the longer the house stays on the market. Those market dynamics are consistent with the strategy of listing agents who are willing to be patient for an uptick in price.