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Stylin’ and Sellin’/Users/adamp/Desktop/SolutionsGuide08/images/stylin

Initial impressions are everything in the real estate profession.

“Even if we don’t want to say people judge us on how we look, we know people do,” says Valleri Crabtree, a director with Institute of Florida Real Estate Careers Inc. (IFREC) and a real estate broker in Florida and Ohio. “Some studies say you only have 30 seconds or a minute to make a first impression.”

Crabtree says you must know the background of the customers with whom you’re dealing so you’ll know how they dress themselves and what they expect of you.

“If you know your buyer or seller is from a profession where a suit is going to be the norm, then no matter how they’re dressed on the appointment, you need to be in a suit, or at least a tie and a sport jacket if you’re a man,” Crabtree recommends. “If they’re coming from a profession where the dress code is more relaxed, then you might be able to get away with something less formal. You always want to be dressed at least one step above your customer, whether your customer is a buyer, seller or student in a classroom. The only exception to that would be if you have customers who are from a modest income; if you dress up, it might be intimidating.”

No matter what, “Never, ever, show up for an appointment wearing jeans and tennis shoes. There comes a certain point of dressing down, where you’ve gone past the point of casual; you’re showing disrespect.”
Closings are “a big deal,” Crabtree advises, and sales associates should opt for more professional attire—especially if it involves a commercial property.

Last, your car is a reflection of you. “Having a car that’s messy sends a message that you’re disorganized, that you don’t care enough about clients to clean your car out. And if your car has a heavy smell of smoke, it can turn off [non]smokers.”

The bottom line? “If you don’t pay attention to these things, it can harm your sales,” Crabtree warns. “You might be the greatest [sales associate] in the world. You might provide wonderful customer service, but if people are embarrassed at how you’re dressed; if you don’t look professional at a closing; if your car is a total disaster, I think people might be reluctant to refer a customer to you.”