Sold! -- to the man in Lycra

Beleaguered real estate agents have found a new selling tool -- the trusty bike

Published August 22, 2008 9:19PM (EDT)

Desperate to make a sale, real estate agents, reports the Wall Street Journal, have taken to emphasizing the bikeability of local neighborhoods. Some innovative souls have even begun to lead bike tours of prospective properties.

The good:

One recent Saturday, agent Tammee Ryan of ERA Landmark in Bozeman, Mont., was out riding when she got a call from a client, Matt Kemmer. She met him on her bicycle, dressed in Lycra, and apologized profusely. Mr. Kemmer, a 34-year-old software consultant who also is a cyclist, had looked at 25 other properties, but he says he bought the one Ms. Ryan showed in part because they bonded over their interest in cycling and after she pointed out a bike path near the condo. "That's what was important to me," says Mr. Kemmer, who travels extensively for work and likes to ride everywhere when he is home. As a result, Ms. Ryan has started offering bike tours to other clients.

The bad:

Yet outside urban cores, it can take much longer to see houses by bike, meaning agents usually cover only one neighborhood in a day. There's always the concern that a client could get hurt and the potential for flat tires and broken chains. Bike tours don't make sense in Northern winters, and clients sometimes get caught in the rain. And agents say some clients, particularly those who aren't regular riders, can behave like kids, slamming on the brakes at intersections and ringing the bike bells incessantly.

A hard way to make a living, for sure. But good for your cardio.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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