Best Personalities for Real Estate


March 13, 2019


It may be a cliché, but when we have three real estate licensing classes every month, we get to see many different personality types. Imagine everybody from a person who just graduated high school to a teacher nearing retirement, and from police officers and firefighters to moms who want to sell real estate now that their children are at school all day.

So who make the best salespeople?

No matter how funny the movie Glengarry, Glen Ross may have been, the slick-talking, foul-mouthed, foot-in-the door salespeople it depicted should not be the model for aspiring real estate professionals.

Historically, I have found that nurses and schoolteachers make very good real estate agents. I surmise it might be because they are well-versed in dealing with difficult people (doctors, patients, and parents, maybe?), and because they need empathy and excellent communication skills in their vocations.

“Different strokes for different strokes”

If you are considering a real estate career, it is important to recognize that there is not one “magic formula” personality to be a real estate sales superstar. I use animal types to describe the positive and negative sorts of personalities.

The tortoise is a very slow, deliberate animal. As a salesperson, she is extremely careful and reliable. She may not be the life of the party, but her clients come to realize that when she says something will be done, they know they can rely on it being so. The tortoise may not set her sights on being top salesperson in the company, but management also knows that they will never have to worry about the tortoise making rash decisions or promises that cannot be delivered and which cause customer complaints—or worse. Of course, the downside is that the tortoise is hardly likely to be creative and always looking to test new ways of doing business.

The peacock is about as different from the tortoise as one can get. The peacock is highly motivated to win sales awards and to be recognized for his sales success. Go into a tortoise’s office and the plaque for the last quarter’s sales achievements is filed away in a desk drawer. The peacock’s awards are polished and, on his wall,— with the other 12 plaques earned since he became a Realtor®. When the tortoise makes a sales presentation, the client probably doesn’t realize how many previous clients she has helped, because her humility prevents her from talking about herself that way. But the peacock wastes little time in trying to impress the client with how successful he is in his chosen profession.

The sea lion has been proven to have such cognitive abilities that they can deduce that if A = B and B = C, then A must equal C. They are naturally inquisitive and are always exploring new territories and new ways of socializing within their social groups. Similarly, a salesperson with such inquisitive personality traits will treat their entire career as an opportunity for continuous learning. They want to know about the latest opportunities, newest thinking in marketing and technology, and while this may be very attractive to their clients, a “sea lion” in a team may make the team leader frustrated because they sometimes have difficulty staying focused on their “One Thing” because they are constantly exploring new horizons.

The squirrel. One of my favorite things to do at home is to watch my wife get increasingly furious when a squirrel tries time and time again to leap several feet across our deck to steal food from her bird feeder. She has tried oiling the feeder, putting pepper in the food—she even bought a feeder that would cause the squirrel to feel an electric shock if it landed on her beloved feeder, but to date, the score is Squirrel 9,852, Chris 0. I am amazed at how that squirrel never gives up. Neither rain, nor snow, nor pepper, nor her yelling at it will deter my furry friend from his objective. We see so many salespeople sit a few open houses, try to put a couple of deals together, and then give up. Then once in a while, I see a new agent come into the company with a single-minded focus to succeed, and nothing—but nothing—will deter them from reaching their goal. And like the squirrel, who will adjust his range or launching point if his leaps to the feeder come up short, the squirrel salesperson will see that things are not working one way and will be flexible enough to then try another way until he succeeds.

So what are you?

What is important is to recognize your own personality type, and to be able to recognize the personality of the prospective client with whom you are working. You don’t have to change who you are, but to establish that bond that makes the client want to work with you and entrust to you the most expensive investment they have ever made, they need to see that you understand them and their needs and to believe that you are the best person to help them meet those needs.

In the end, perhaps the most appropriate animal type for a great real estate salesperson is the chameleon. If you can adjust your speech, your presentation style and your presentation to be solely fact-based to the engineer-type, warm and friendly to the gregarious client, empathetic and reassuring to the sensitive person—and customer solution-oriented to everybody, you should be well on your way to becoming a real estate sales superstar!

If you are interested in becoming a New Jersey real estate agent—or in earning your NJ broker’s license—check out Garden State Real Estate Academy’s courses at or call us at 609.923.0590


David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 30 years ago. He is School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 14 books. David can be reached at

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