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What is Appropriate Dress for a Real Estate Professional?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

A few of the blogs I've read lately touched on agents showing up looking unkempt and grungy. I've seen that too.

I remember one agent whose seller required her to be there for showings. She arrived to meet me and my buyers in a pair of bagged-out sweatpants and an old t-shirt... and dirty athletic shoes. Another one used to wear an outfit made out of parachute cloth.

And one time I was looking at homes (as a buyer) in another town and was shocked to see an agent in a skin-tight, low-cut, bright pink cocktail dress and spike heels - at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

But aside from not showing up looking like you were ready to go wash the car or head for a night club, appropriate dress depends upon where you are.

In our area, you're just as likely to be called to walk up the side of a mountain or around a boggy meadow as to visit a home in town. So, wearing a skirt to work is asking for trouble. So is wearing your favorite new slacks. I remember ruining a pair once when crawling through a barb wire fence.well dressed Realtor

And the clients do notice and comment on attire...

A wealthy friend of mine wanted to sell her country home a couple of years ago and she got the idea that an agent from the city might have more buyers who could afford her home. She called me the day after her interview with these agents. She said "Can you believe it? This guy showed up in a suit and dress shoes. And the woman with him had on a long skirt and heels. She was horrified at the idea of walking the property - even our gravel driveway was too much for her. How can anybody be dumb enough to show up at a country home dressed like that?"

So, while a few do wear slacks, and a few brave women put on dresses, most agents who live and work here wear jeans. Hopefully not worn out or torn jeans, but jeans just the same. They can look almost professional when paired with a wool blazer.

And then... there are those who wear shorts. Agents who come here from other parts of the country seem to think shorts are proper real estate attire for both men and women, but the comments I've heard from clients would say otherwise. One client told me his impression was that the agent was begrudgingly taking time out from going boating to see them. Others had similar unflattering comments.

So - proper attire depends upon where you work. Suits and dresses are no doubt "the uniform" in many cities, and agents who specialize in waterfront homes can probably wear shorts without seeming unprofessional.

What I tell new agents is to look around... notice what the most successful agents in your market are wearing and copy them.




Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I've often wondered why they did away with the gold jackets. They clearly showed people who you were.

You're right about working for a gym - there the sweatpants would be appropriate.

Sep 17, 2010 08:19 PM
Raj Dhaliwal
Century 21 Coastal Realty Ltd. - Abbotsford, BC
Personal Real Estate Corporation

dress carefully on first meeting. when you know them(and they know  you)it doesn't matter..

Sep 18, 2010 10:44 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Raj - Yes, as long as you don't start dressing in a "disrespectful" manner, once you know someone you don't have to be quite so careful.

Sep 18, 2010 10:57 AM
Kathie Burby
Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate - Sonora, CA
REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide

Marte- Wonderful advice! I think if you dress for the environment you are in you will fit in with most of your clients. Clean and neat no matter what your attire.

Sep 18, 2010 12:54 PM
Chad and Sandy Neumann
Chad and Sandy Real Estate Group - Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville Realtor (904-414-6200)

good point--I always dress professionally, but hadn't realized that being overdressed could be a turnoff to some. I've found that you can't go wrong with pants and flat dress shoes (without heals). the only problem I can't solve is the intense heat here in Florida!

Sep 19, 2010 06:44 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I can't imagine working where you go from the intense heat outside into air conditioned rooms inside over and over all day. How would you dress?

When I visited Florida for a November copywriting conference I nearly froze to death... could hardly wait for breaks to get outside and warm up.

Sep 19, 2010 08:30 AM
Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR
Desert Gold Realty - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale - Mesquite, NV
Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS

Golf attire is proper here, shorts, skorts, sandals - male and female agents, both.  I threw out my California suits after 2 weeks here.

No shoes, no shirt, no problem.  Well, not really.

Pedicures are a must here.  :)

Sep 19, 2010 08:41 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Virginia - Yes, I would guess you'd need to keep your toes in good shape if people are going to see them!

Sep 20, 2010 05:06 AM
Liane Thomas, Top Listing Agent
Professional Realty Services® - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

Yes, and pay attention to how your client is dressed too. My younger clients are so casual, I usually tend to dress a bit more casual/business casual with them. However, when they bring their parents, you bet I dress up.

Oct 04, 2010 07:36 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Liane - Yes, the key word is "appropriate" - for the place, the weather, the property, and the clients.

Oct 04, 2010 07:49 AM
Tom & Lisa Slaughter
Century 21 Coast to Coast, Clearwater Beach, FL - Clearwater Beach, FL

Being a beach agent, I wear shorts, sandals, and a collared polo shirt all summer. Most clients are dressed similarly and I never have gotten the sense they think I'm underdressed. Hey, we're on the beach! As you said, Marte, dress appropriately.

Oct 04, 2010 11:26 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Tom & Lisa - around here, it's jeans and a nice shirt... and a sweater or blazer depending upon the weather. Agents in the woods never know when they'll be asked to hike up a mountain or climb through a barbed wire fence, so skirts and nice slacks are not realistic.

Oct 04, 2010 12:18 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Valerie - and darn! There went an excuse to dress up. But if you used to wear heels, I'll bet your feet are thanking you for the change in attire.

Oct 09, 2010 05:48 AM
Lola Audu

Hi Marti, Wow, you're right about the deluge.  I missed this blog the first time around, but I've definitely enjoyed reading it and through the comments.  This is obviously something that many people have strong opinions about. :)

Oct 25, 2010 01:09 PM

some customers will not work with sales men who wear suit and ties, they tend to distrust them.

Oct 04, 2014 10:53 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Wow! @RLC - you found an oldie. I agree - it all depends upon your market. 

Oct 04, 2014 11:43 AM
Jackie Adams
Idaho Falls, ID
Jackie Adams

I am responding to this older post because of the link to this post in my newest update from Marte's newletter.  I also live in Idaho like Marte.  I wear casual business attire.  I have had to trudge through a few horse properties so my last buyer who was looking for a horse property took me out to quite a few.  I went to Cal Ranch and got me some cowboy boots.  I purchased the rounded toe kind (not pointed) and the tops were hidden under my nice looking (not faded) jeans.  But this buyer knew her "stuff".  She recognized my boots and told me they were a really good brand and respected boot (I didn't even look at that).  She loved my boots and complemented me.  We searched for the perfect property where she could ride in the hills straight from her home.  It was a fun time and we are good friends since.  I still have my boots for those occasions even though I'm a "mary jane flats" kind of girl.  Those little shoes don't work in barns.  I guess best dress not only depends on the area we live in but also the specific property.  Once in a while I do don those boots.  I haven't converted to the real twangy country music though.  :)

Mar 03, 2016 08:30 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jackie Adams Thanks for coming by! I think casual business is just right for Idaho, and I agree that boots - or perhaps hiking shoes - are the only footwear to choose in certain situations. Anything else will either mean destruction of your shoes or injury to your ankles! 

Mar 03, 2016 08:57 AM
Fred Carver Real Estate Consulant
Retired BC Realtor - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

We only get oncec chance for a first impression, so dress for  your market, Teeth Brushed and Hair Combed and Car Washed

Feb 28, 2019 01:18 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation Absolutely! Present yourself ready to go to work for those clients!

Feb 28, 2019 01:32 PM