How to make a positive first impression

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

You probably tell your listing clients that it is important for their homes to make a positive first impression.

Thus, in addition to advising sellers about how to present the interior,  you urge them to take care of all the exterior work that lends curb appeal.

Whether you are an agent, a lender, a stager, or any other type of service provider, it’s equally important for you personally to make a positive first impression.

Except in your case, you may have to make that positive first impression several times. Here’s why…

You have three ways to make a positive first impression…

They are:

  • In writing
  • On the phone
  • In person

You need to create a great impression in all of them, for two reasons.
First, because you don’t know where/when a prospect will first pay attention to you as an individual.
Second, because a “first glance” first impression can dissolve quickly if your prospect gets an opposite reaction on the second glance.

“In writing” covers writing in 4 different formats:

  • On your website
  • In your prospecting letters
  • In your emails
  • In your print advertising

Each of those possible written first impression locations is equally important.

You’ve heard that “consistency counts” in marketing – and that applies to the quality of your marketing as well as the frequency.

On your website, your home page, information and promotional pages, personal listings, blog, and about me page,  you need to project the same positive image.

Spelling, word usage, grammar, and useful content all count, and so does tone.

People are far more drawn to upbeat, positive individuals than they are to those who sound gloomy or angry. So be careful, especially with your blog. If you’re having a bad day, you should either talk yourself out of it or skip writing for the day.

  • Avoid the temptation to spout off about the buyers who had you show prospects aren't impressed by a negative tonethem 17 homes, then wrote an offer with their Uncle Ned.
  • Forgo ranting about the agent who ignores your requests for showings or submits incomplete offers.
  • Don’t mention the sellers who once again failed to clean their cat’s litter box before your showing.

Nobody wants to listen to a complainer, so switch to a better topic. Keep it positive and helpful.

When it comes to your prospecting letters, the same guidelines apply.

Consistency counts in both frequency and quality. Make sure every letter is about the reader, not about you. They don’t care what you want or need, so don’t tell them you need listings. Instead, talk about their wants and needs – and how you will help them accomplish their goals.

When you’re writing to people who don’t know you yet, your prospecting letters are a means of showing them you’re the professional they can count on.

If you don’t want to write the letters yourself, visit my prospecting letters page, where you’ll find a wide variety of letters you can download and use today.


The first impression some prospects will get will be the email you send in response to an inquiry or when they leave their information in a form on your website. Before you write it, think it through.

What do they expect to get in return for leaving their information? Perhaps it’s a special report. In that case your note can be short and sweet, saying “Here’s the report you requested.” You can also thank them for making the request and let them know that you’ll be sending more information they can use.

Maybe they were just checking their home’s value or doing a home search and didn’t expect a thing. In that case, your email should be a “Thank you for visiting” message. It can offer a special report or just let them know you’ll be sending more information.

Make sure your message is positive and upbeat.

If you’re doing print advertising, don’t let someone else ruin your positive first impression!

When you place an ad, make sure you proof carefully it before it goes to print. People make mistakes – and their mistakes can make you look foolish.

This is my voice of experience warning you. When I had a real estate brokerage and regularly advertised in the local newspaper, I learned it the hard way. There might be a misspelled word – or a word left out. One time they ran our ad without the phone number.

Proofread everything – whether you’re the one hitting the print, send, or publish buttons – or someone else is.

Make a positive first impression on the phone

Before you make or take a call, relax, breathe, and smile. Think about someone or something you love. Envision the positive outcome of the call. Feel grateful that people want to speak with you.

If you’re calling in response to a web inquiry, do so with the expectation that they want to hear from you. If you’re cold calling, consider that they may welcome your call because you’re offering your market reports or information about homes for sale in their neighborhood.

In other words – get rid of the idea that they may see you as a bother and just hang up on you!

One first impression many ignore is the one on their answering machines. Smile before you record that message! And… think about what your caller wants to hear.

Believe me when I say that they don’t want to hear that you’ll return their call “at my earliest convenience.” Switch to “My earliest opportunity” or “As soon as I can.” So far, every time I’ve left a message for someone who will call me back at his or her earliest convenience, I’ve never received that call back. I guess it was never convenient. But that’s OK – after that message, I didn’t want to talk to them anyway.


"If you want to make a good first impression, smile at people. What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not to smile? Everything, if not smiling prevents you from enchanting people."

Guy Kawasaki


Make a positive impression in person.

Your first meeting with a new prospect will set the tone for the rest of your project a positive, professional imagerelationship. It could also determine whether you have a future relationship. That being the case…

  • Be there on time – and not overly early.
  • If you’ll be late in spite of your best efforts  – call and let them know why and when to expect you.
  • Arrive composed and organized.
  • Dress appropriately for a professional in your area. It differs from place to place – check out the comments on this old Active Rain post.
  • Be aware of how much information they want or need, and don’t over-talk. (They may not need a 20- minute explanation of why you use specific marketing materials.)
  • Pay attention to their questions and answer them completely.

You are a professional and a small business person. Conduct yourself as if your professional future depended upon it, because it does.


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Comments (15)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:


Great information.  Bill 

Aug 12, 2021 04:06 PM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

As always Marte, a very informative post.  I make it a point to keep any presentation on the positive rather than be negative on anything past.  Does no good and reflects poorly on whoever feels comfortable doing so.  Mark

Aug 12, 2021 06:07 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - there's no doubt that first impressions are important but sometimes it's the lasting ones that make the difference that matters.   

Aug 13, 2021 04:58 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Marte. A must read for all agents. The newbie getting started and the experienced agent who needs to brush-up. Enjoy your day.

Aug 13, 2021 05:21 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I agree with all of this. The funny thing is, when I was dating, I had the same criteria. Specifically, when they wrote to me, could I understand it? When we spoke on the phone... was the person upbeat? A complainer? A whiner? Could I listen to that voice on a regular basis? And then there was the in-person checkpoint. That one speaks for itself. 


These are three important checkpoints for any first impression.


Enjoy your day!

Aug 13, 2021 05:34 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is excellent advice to share.

Keep cool, stay safe and have a great day.

Aug 13, 2021 08:37 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Marte- this is excellent advice on all points that you made. You mentioned one of my pet peeves...when someone says they will return your call at their earliest convenience. That first impression tells me that I don't matter. 

Aug 14, 2021 03:20 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Aug 14, 2021 06:04 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Marte - your advice is always helpful.  This post is particularly helpful in that it reminds us that first impressions that are great can be quickly destroyed.  We must always be on our best behavior with prospects and clients.

Aug 15, 2021 04:47 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Marte... no matter the method used it's important to remember you won't likely get a second chance to make a positive first impression.

Aug 15, 2021 05:34 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Marte Cliff ,

I love your post! Kathy Streib was wise to feature your post in her "Ah-Ha" moments for the week! All three areas are only get to make that positive impression the first time they talk to you, see you or read your marketing. 

Aug 15, 2021 11:37 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Marte,
As you well know, I do believe in second chances but when it comes to First Impressions there just isn't a second chance.  We can destroy a good First Impression very quickly and it takes a lot longer to overcome a bad one.

Aug 16, 2021 05:37 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Marte Cliff - Many times this needs to be stated and you did a great job explaining it. 

Aug 16, 2021 08:18 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

Wow, this is chock-full of useful and powerful information and advice. There really are a number of first-impression opportunities, aren't there?! Bookmarked.


Aug 16, 2021 05:07 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Marte Cliff - Thank you for putting this information together. We all need to review and re-evaluate how our first impressions are either helping or hurting opportunities. Nothing in business can be taken for granted. 

Thank you, Marte. I saved this one. 

Aug 18, 2021 05:14 AM