In the real estate business, your image is projected through your professional appearance. Some clients will judge you by your appearance just as much as your reputation, how knowledgeable you are, and how well you communicate. When meeting with potential clients, keep in mind that first impressions matter.
For example, this NAR article on “The Importance of Image and Appearance” quotes three Realtor® clients regarding whether having purple hair and tattoos or driving an ugly car would influence their decision to use the agent. One client replied that she would have run away when meeting an agent with purple hair at an open house. Another was impressed because the agent drove the same quality car as the client. Finally, the last one stated clearly that he believed in first impressions. It concluded with, “You should be concerned about how your clients perceive you.”
To help you project the right image and professional appearance, we’ve put together some tips on how to look and dress the part of a successful real estate businessperson.
Professional appearance and attire
Appearance is extremely important, as most clients tend to hire agents based on appearance and gut feeling. Obviously, men wearing freshly pressed shirts with a smart-looking tie and well-polished shoes look professional. However, too much jewelry distracts people in the wrong way. So keep it simple. For instance, you may decide to wear just a watch, and maybe one other piece of jewelry. And remember: Neatly trimmed and clean fingernails count.
It’s also a good idea to keep up with current fashion trends. Having a fashionable hair style helps, too. Male agents can turn to men’s fashion magazines like Esquire, GQ, and VMAN. Female agents can keep abreast of women’s fashion trends by consulting Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue. Marie Claire also offers useful advice for female real estate professionals, such as having well-maintained manicures and wearing conservative-length skirts.
Chicago Agent Magazine recommends avoiding “glitz and glamour” and looking like the real you. Also, “dress for your market” by wearing attire appropriate to your surroundings. Who wears a suit and tie to the beach? A sharp blazer and dark-wash jeans work better for young, hip regions. Finally, make sure you “act like a professional.” No matter what you wear, always act in a genuine, respectful manner.
Other ways to appear professional
Besides professional attire, driving a popularly desired car sends a strong message to potential clients. One broker in Washington State always traded for a new Jaguar sedan every year. She even let her agents borrow the “Jag” to drive wealthy buyers around fancy neighborhoods for showings. The agents reported that initially seeing the “Jag” always brought a smile to the potential buyer’s face.
The appearance of your office also sends a strong message to first-time visitors. Keep it organized and meticulously clean, and display attractive curios and artwork. A messy desk is the sign of a disorganized agent.
Not every location, situation, or prospective client requires trendy, ultra-professional clothing. In an article titled “People Buy Your Appearance – Before They Will Buy Real Estate From You!” a Washington State mortgage company recommends dressing the way prospective clients dress.
When a Zillow comment board asked how real estate agents should dress, answers from 22 commenters included “it depends on the area of the country.” In resort communities, for instance, most agents wear semi-casual clothes. Selling ranches requires jeans, western shirts, and cowboy boots. Hot summer weather allows for dress shorts and dresses. The type of property, weather, or client determines how you dress. Always have a change of clothing ready when the situation requires it.
The young-looking agent’s dilemma
Professional appearance goes beyond how you dress and what type of cool car you drive. Young agents report discrimination against looking “too young.” For example, a recently licensed 23-year-old who looks like he is still in high school overcame initial client perceptions by wearing a blazer, shirt, and tie. As a result, potential clients stopped asking how much experience he had and instead asked genuine real estate questions.
Professional appearance tips for real estate agents vary depending upon the situation. Different types of property, weather, and clients dictate the appropriate professional attire. When you need to look like a successful businessperson, either dress conservatively or follow fashion trends. Keep your office clean and organized. Maintain a stylish haircut. Blend in with your client’s tastes when you can so that they relate to you and trust you. Remember: Proper professional appearance leads to success.
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About the author
Steven Rich, MBA has over three years of experience as a successful real estate agent. He was awarded the Top Condo Salesperson for two of those years by his real estate company. Steven has served as Associate Editor for a real estate magazine and is the author of a 104-page e-book on How to Buy, Develop, Lease, and Sell Real Estate.