How to Dress for success in real estate

By
Real Estate Agent with Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty


Blogs are the place for buyers and sellers in the Princeton area and elsewhere in New Jersey to find the real scoop about real estate. What would they see when they get to the blog?

With so few real estate people blogging consumers are not yet aware of what is in it for them. To get this information out in public and to engage consumers in a dialog I want them to come to my blog. My profile page could be their first point of contact. I decided it needs complete revamping or at least a major face-lift, no pun intended.

This is how I come to the conversation about dress. Working on my profile page, I got to see my photo a lot and this is what went through my mind “this jacket just got to go". The picture is current; it’s just the jacket, it's so 90-s.  In his book “ Blink: the power to think without thinking”, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that we only have that long – “a blink” to make an impression. Dress for Success

This conversation is about two things the importance of dress in real estate: 1. Dress in Photos; 2. Dress code in general.

Agent photos were always puzzling to me, before and after I started in real estate. To this day I look at the pictures of agents lined up on the pages of Princeton Packet and Town Topics (our local papers) and wonder  “Which face would I like to sell my house?” I don’t advertise my face – I keep the wrinkles all to myself.

Having accepted that photos are a special feature of life in real estate, I come to the question of dress. I am not talking here about pictures taken 20 years ago, that horse has been beaten to death. I am talking about what impression our current photos leave by way of dress. Blogs are a conversation with someone who we don’t know and don’t see. Photos in the blogs help the reader to engage in this conversation. Not because I am beautiful, but because they can “see” the person they are talking to.



Let me give you an example. I was commenting on a blog of a person pictured in a relaxed Hawaiian shirt on his profile (totally fictitious). I related to the person completely. I later saw the same person’s picture in a suit and tie – I also related, but it was not the same person in my mind.



Please don’t tell me, it’s not the cover it’s what’s inside. I agree - once you get to the insight. The photo on the profile is who the reader will be seeing in their minds eye and “talking” to. It should be true to who we are and to the image we want to project.  Are you the power broker doing multi-million dollar deals? Are you wearing suit and tie, so the market reports from you are received with more confidence? Are you writing for the relocating executives or vacation home owners? Are you dressed for the former or the later? Are you cool looking and therefore on the edge of all things new in marketing? Do you have a cartoon instead of a picture on your profile? What does the cartoon say to your readers about who you are? 

What we wear in the blog photos could be even more important then what we wear to meat a client – on a blog you may not get a second chance.

Which brings me to what we wear in our every day real estate agents’ life. Years ago I remember rows of white starched blouses and dark suits hanging in my closet. In my early consulting days I came in one day in a yellow suit – it was very conservative and yellow. Let’s just say, I never wore that suit again.

There are many dress codes now: casual, dress –casual, client meeting and others. Did you ever think why business attire uses the word “code”? Because it is a code of communicating corporate culture. Why do casually dressed guys and ladies, change into suits when they meet clients? Why so much fuss about dress? Is it at all applicable to real estate? What subtle message are we communicating?


Dress for SuccessThere are different schools of thought for real estate. There are those that dress “like their clients”. For example, a guy selling in Florida – would wear shorts and a polo shirt, because that’s what his clients wear. The idea is that the client will relate to them better.  

Another theory – if you are selling 2+ million dollar homes, you should dress the part, and I don’t mean expensive jewelry.

The third idea is to dress in the same style for all clients, picking the style from the two previous choices.

I know some big gun agents, who look like they just rolled out of bed. With this argument, I just wasted a perfectly fine morning writing this post. I am sure I'll hear it  - "we sell houses, not our looks."

 

Then what do you wear when you are “not working”? I was in a store yesterday and 2 people asked me for my card. Was I prepared for meeting potential clients? I was helping my sister choose a table. 

 

 

My clients will be buying and selling their homes in Princeton, West Windsor, Montgomery Township and Hopewell. I want to dress for their success.




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Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ
Kelly -you said "Casual, comfortable, pulled together, and stylish at the same time" - sounds right to me. What I didn't like about the jacket in my photo -is that it looked outdated to me. When I say suits for women -I don't mean the matchy- matchy top and button. To me that's what I wore in the age of the "power" man looking business attire. There are many more choices now, including a dress and a jacket, or even simply a dress (like the woman in my cartoon).
Nov 05, 2007 09:40 AM #69
Rainer
28,230
Abe Do
Olympia, WA

I actually have clients that have chosen me by the way I dress......most commercial agents are somewhat stuffy and I try to fly under everyone's radar.....and many clients use me just for that reason!!  Clothes are important and I have tested my theory.....business went down when I wore a suit.

I also believe that first impressions are important regarding the car you drive, the way you speak, the way your breath smells, if your hair is combed and then when you open your mouth.....YOU BETTER KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!!!  Thanks for the reminder.

Nov 05, 2007 09:43 AM #70
Rainmaker
314,519
Roberta LaRocca
Simply Vegas Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
REALTORĀ®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management
Faina, I think you should always look professional when you are out in the public.  My family was in the drycleaning business and when I was young, jeans were in style.  My dad wouldn't let me wear them because at that time it wasn't a "drycleanable" item.  He said that famers wore jeans and that is not the business we are in!  He wanted me to dress appropriately for the business we represented.  Of course, at the time, I was mad but I understand now what he was teaching me.   Now, I get my jeans drycleaned! 
Nov 05, 2007 10:15 AM #71
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ

Ryan - you must've found your niche.lol. I had a commercial transaction, my buyer and his whole  team were in suits, the listing agent wasn't. They ended up not buying -not because of the suit. Thanks for your prospective.

Roberta - dry clean jeans -wow. I only do it for a few expensive ones.  Thanks.

Nov 05, 2007 01:25 PM #72
Rainmaker
478,165
Robert L. Brown
www.mrbrownsellsgr.com - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Michigan
There was an earlier comment about dressing to accomodate your client. In orking with foreclosed homes and the investors who purchase them you dont want them to perceive your better then them. You have to see where their comfort level is and go from there. There are times when you do have to be a chameleon. You go with the flow.
Nov 05, 2007 01:28 PM #73
Anonymous
Anonymous
Brian Wilson

Faina – you're right. At first I thought this post was going to be about the way a blog looks, which is also very important. So in a way, the two ideas go hand-in-hand. If we are going to blog, we need to make all facets of it attractive and pleasant. A cluttered blog can make a negative impression in a "blink" in the same way a bad picture of its writer can. We should be mindful of all visual representations.

Brian Wilson, Zolve.com

Nov 05, 2007 03:56 PM #74
Rainer
4,035
CJ DelVecchio
Warren Real Estate - Ithaca, NY
I am new to Active Rain but I found this posting and couldn't agree MORE!  I have been the A-type person in my office who insists that NO ONE should wear jeans, ever, to meet clients or be on 'floor duty.' Two associates in my office look at me as if I have three heads!  What has happened in the business world where jeans are ever acceptable? I only own 1 pair anyway, maybe I am biased. Thanks for listening...
Nov 05, 2007 10:06 PM #75
Rainmaker
292,373
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Faina- I read a few of the comments, but have my guard up, so stopped.....I have never worn a suit....and have one dresss,  (for funerals) only.  I learned a long time ago that I can't be something I'm not.....and I do wear jeans, shorts, etc.  I decided not to work in "Towns or Cities" because of the expectations.....and instead concentrate on the areas in the middle of nowhere......less expectations :) :)

I dress to fit my area, but I do have a "proper shirt" on for my Profile :) :)

Nov 06, 2007 09:38 AM #76
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ
Kathy - I would do bisiness with you, if you wore slippers. Your photo looks great to me. You and me are "ladies in red." Thanks.
Nov 06, 2007 09:42 AM #77
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ
Kathy - I would do business with you, if you wore slippers. Your photo looks great to me. You and me are "ladies in red." Thanks.
Nov 06, 2007 09:43 AM #78
Rainmaker
135,689
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Four Seasons - Puyallup, WA

Fiana- Great post. I think one thing to consider is dressing appropriately for your age. I have always thought it less than professional when someone in any profession dresses like they are 20 years younger or older than they are. For example very young men dressing with suits and overcoats that look like they should be worn by senior level bankers (stodgy) =) Or women wearing clothes that look like something a 20 something would be wearing. By dressing classy and with a neat appearance we can look professional and have our own style.

Best wishes,

Scott Cowan
Rainier Real Estate
www.scottcowan.com

Nov 06, 2007 01:39 PM #79
Rainer
13,122
Mary Ann Grafft
Keller Williams Realty - Lubbock, TX
Are you a Mike Ferry student.  He preaches upgrading and it makes perfect sense.  I'm from the southwest and BUSINESS casual is very accepted in any price range home.
Nov 06, 2007 02:20 PM #80
Rainer
56,415
Joyce Heffner-Williams
Keller Williams Clients' Choice Realty - Monument, CO
Owner/Broker/EcoBroker - Monument Real Estate

I like to dress like my clients, but just a bit more together if they are too casual.  Think that should be obvious.  I mean we are professionals here...

Nov 06, 2007 06:09 PM #81
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ

Scott - you are absolutely right. i totally agree with what you said "By dressing classy and with a neat appearance we can look professional and have our own style.". thanks for your comment.

Marry Ann - I am not Mike Ferry student. I come from the world of management consulting. it was drilled into us - we are not supposed to look like our clients, we were supposed to look like consultants, which usually meant more conservative and better quality attire. I am not sure how it fits with Mike Ferry. I would be interested to know. Thanks for your comment.

Troy - as you can see from this thread people have different ideas, judging by the number of comments. Thanks for yours.

Nov 06, 2007 07:14 PM #82
Rainer
1,454
Vero Tabares
SymphonySEO - Baltimore, MD
When I speak with Realtors, I'm actually more comfortable talking with someone in jeans, blazer and a nice shirt, but at the same time, if I wanted to sell a property, I'd expect they be in their best attire at the open house. I guess either or works, but obviously the dress code is dependent on the situation.
Nov 08, 2007 01:30 PM #83
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ
Vero - I agree that different profession have different "uniforms". I am not sure what it is in the SEO world but my guess that it's pretty informal. Yes, being professionally dressed for the Open House is important, otherwise it may look like the agent does not "respect" the property they are marketing. Thanks for your comment.
Nov 08, 2007 02:47 PM #84
Rainer
46,116
Jackie Peraza
Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC - Framingham, MA
Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts

Faina- You now have me thinking....I've considered my blog an opportunity for folks to see a more relaxed side of me -  still professional, but relaxed.  Yet, when I meet with clients, whether they be investors, real estate agents, home owners or lenders I am in a suit.  I want them to know I meanbusiness about their investment and what I bring to the real estate transaction table.  I'm going to have to think about that picture on my blog.  Thanks for the post.

Jackie

Nov 09, 2007 10:00 AM #85
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ
Jackie - I saw your picture. it seems you were going for the "more relaxed side of me". May be it goes with the "creative type" that stagers are assumed to be. On the other hand, if that's not how you dress usually or what you want to prject, I can see why you said " I'm going to have to think about that picture on my blog. " Thanks for your comment.
Nov 09, 2007 12:21 PM #86
Rainer
3,414
Rod Finch
Pioneer Property Inspectors LLC - La Crosse, WI
Should dress the way you feel.... ie.. do you feel successful? trendy? then dress in that manner.
Nov 09, 2007 06:57 PM #87
Rainer
91,792
Faina Sechzer
Henderson-Sotheby's International Realty - Princeton, NJ
Real Estate Expert - Princeton, Montgomery ,Hopewell, NJ
Rod - I would imagine that as an Inspector you have a certain "uniform" to wear. I wouldn't think it would be 3-piece suit.
Nov 09, 2007 08:23 PM #88
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Faina Sechzer

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