How Much Time Do You Spend in the Car Working as a Real Estate Agent?
Real estate professionals spend a lot of time behind the wheel, oftentimes logging 20,000+ miles per year on their vehicles. That’s quite a bit more than the 13,476 miles per year that the average person drives, so it’s important that you drive a vehicle that fits your needs, taste, budget, and overall brand as an agent.
Before we jump into specific makes and models, let’s get a few things out of the way. First, if you’re just starting your real estate career, have other financial obligations, or just don’t want to spend a lot of money on a car, there’s no need to purchase or lease an ostentatious luxury vehicle. In fact, there are times when having a ‘status’ vehicle can actually detract from your brand. It’s much more important to keep things tidy, meaning regularly cleaning both the exterior and interior of your vehicle.
Don’t Drive Yourself Crazy
In my own personal survey of friends, family, and coworkers, nearly everybody I asked would rather take a ride in a clean well-kept Honda Pilot over an odious, garbage-filled, coffee-stained Range Rover. If your current car needs a deep scrub, such as after an epic camping trip or years of hauling children around, look up a local auto detailer to get back on track. The Detail Geek on YouTube will give you plenty of inspiration to get cleaning (or to hire someone else to dig out all the old french fries squished in your back seat).
Next, unless you absolutely love cars or just crave that new car smell, there’s almost no reason to purchase or lease a new vehicle. Advances in machine and manufacturing technology mean modern vehicles wear out less quickly. In most late model cars, 50,000 miles on the odometer is nothing, especially if the vehicle has been regularly serviced, so let somebody else take the depreciation hit. In general, the sweet spot for purchasing a used vehicle is three to five years old with about 75,000 miles or less. It’s also best practice to have a used car looked over by a local independent mechanic before you purchase, and service records are always a good sign that the vehicle will last.
If you’re still hungering for a new ride, let’s move on to the fun part. What should you buy? As much as we’d all love to drive an Audi S5 Cabriolet convertible, the perfect real estate vehicle has to have enough room to seat four comfortably, transport things like open house signs, do well in all weather conditions, be efficient, and be reliable.
In the Market? Consider These Makes & Models for Your Real Estate Career:
2014 - 2020 Acura RDX
The Acura RDX is the luxury brand’s midsize crossover. This car makes the list because it offers comfort, reliability, and luxury without the pretentiousness of some of the other more expensive brands. Additionally, the RDX can achieve 28 miles per gallon on the highway and is offered with all-wheel-drive. Prices for a used RDX range from $14K to $17K.
2017-2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Minivans sometimes get a bad rap, but from a practical standpoint, they can’t be beaten. While you can’t go wrong with any of the reasonably new minivans, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is roomy, comfortable, efficient, and surprisingly fun to drive. As the only plug-in hybrid minivan available, it can go 32 miles before sipping any gas and that adds up. A used Pacifica hybrid could set you back about $27K.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid (any year)
Any version of the Toyota Highlander will do. Like other Toyotas, they’re built to last so you can rack up the miles guilt-free. A non-hybrid model will return 29 miles per gallon, but those who opt for the hybrid will enjoy up to 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. That gas mileage is impressive for an SUV of this size. A nice used Highland Hybrid could be yours for about $26K.
Honda Pilot or CR-V (any year)
There’s a reason why you see Pilots and CR-Vs all over the place: they’re fantastic cars. The CR-V and Pilot can be had with features such as leather interiors and all-wheel-drive, and both come with the famed Honda reliability. The latest iteration of the CR-V can achieve an impressive 34 mpg on the highway, but for those on a tight budget, there’s nothing wrong with an older CR-V or Pilot. A used CR-V (even if it’s a 2010) can be had for around $8-$10K.
2020 Lexus UX 250h
Let’s say you’re established in your career and you’re looking to treat yourself. The 2020 Lexus UX250h might suit you well. It may not be a hot rod, but with a combined 42 mpg, you’ll save plenty on gas to buy the Porsche Cayman S that you’ve always wanted. Plus it’s a Lexus, so unbridled comfort and build quality come standard. The 2020 Lexus UX250h starts at $34,500. If you prefer something a little larger, you can’t go wrong with any Lexus SUV.
2017 - 2020 Audi Q7
If you’ve never driven a large German car, go do it. They just feel composed in every situation, and the Q7 is no exception. Now I know what you’re thinking, but this generation Audi Q7 actually got high marks for reliability by Consumer Reports. From a performance, luxury, style, and practicality standpoint, it doesn’t get better than the Q7. A good used Audi Q7 can be purchased for around $30K.
Kia Telluride (any year)
Kia’s latest lineup of SUVs, more specifically the Telluride, might be the most talked-about crossover SUV in recent decades. Kia has recruited former hot-shot Audi and BMW engineers to lead many of these developments and it shows; the Telluride scored a perfect 10 by Car & Driver. Spacious and packed with tech, the Telluride offers 26 mpg on the highway. Models are available for about $35K.
2017 - 2020 Mazda CX-9 or CX-5
If the Kia didn’t offer slightly more room and a few more tech features, Mazda would be the king of the crossover game. Both the latest-generation Mazda CX-5 and the larger CX-9 offer build quality and luxury (in high trim levels) that has the car magazines comparing them to brands like Lexus. But that’s just the half of it. Unlike others in the game, the Mazda’s sharp steering and composed handling provide drivers with a certain confidence only found in much more expensive cars. It also doesn’t hurt that a CX-5 can achieve 31 mpg on the highway. You could score a nice used CX-5 for about $15-18K.
2019 - 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
We’d be remiss not to include a pickup truck on this list. As the most popular type of vehicle sold in the US, full-size trucks offer acres of interior space, tons of cargo room, and unmatched practicality. The only drawback, besides parking, is fuel economy. That’s not the case, however, with the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Freshly redesigned for 2019, the Ram 1500 has won the hearts of journalists and truck lovers alike. Not only does its coil-spring rear suspension offer the most comfortable ride in its class, but also the EcoDiesel can eke out 32 mpg on the highway (in 2wd models; it’s 29 mpg for 4wd). A new ram EcoDiesel starts at $36,890.
Of course, if you don’t see the car that you’re eyeing on this list, that’s okay. If it’s what you like, suits your needs, and is well taken care of - go for it! Be sure to find a good local mechanic who can help you stay on the road. You can also google ‘common problems with (insert year/make/model)’ to get an idea of some potential repairs down the line. Of all the things we use, few get used more often than our vehicles so it’s best to drive something that ultimately makes you happy and is relatable to your target demographic. Just don’t forget to keep it clean!
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