After reading a few current articles on Inman, it got me thinking about how we, the real estate community, present ourselves to the general public and how our appearance, including the cars we drive, could convey success or not.

First, Teke Wiggin wrote “Should real estate agents drive fancy cars” Also, Jennifer Riner offered “4 grooming must-do’s before meeting with a client.” Both are articles that provide samples of what goes through the mind of so many of us who have chosen a career in real estate.

Appearance is critical when you are making a first impression that will last forever. When you make your initial contact with a new client, they are judging everything about you. Often, they are skeptical of everything you say. Once you have established credibility, your appearance has a diminished impact on your perception.

Can your attire being intimidating or make you seem unapproachable? Do you give off that energy that says something opposite of the way you are? Maybe it’s your clothing, or maybe it’s that don’t-mess-with-me attitude displayed in your facial expressions.

My father taught me that your shoes also signify your success. I’ve heard this countless times, the most recent at #ICNY in the Select Lounge where we were offered shoeshine services. Thanks, Brad; the salted sidewalks did a number on my Salvatore Ferragamo’s.

There are limitless arguments for the way we present ourselves to our clients. I believe it should be up to whatever makes you feel most comfortable but professional at the same time.

If you practice on the Hawaiian Islands, I don’t believe it is practical or expected to wear a suit and tie to the office or to meet with clients. There are way too many beautiful Hawaiian shirts to choose from that would be appropriate attire.

I live in a relatively casual community known as “The Happiest City in America.” At least that’s what Oprah said. That’s right — Google it.

Regardless of the laid-back atmosphere, I feel most comfortable in a suit and tie, and I wear them almost daily to the office whether I’m meeting a client or not. It’s just my thing, and others often tease me about it. I have a nickname, “Dress Code.” I know — funny, isn’t it?

What’s even funnier is the colleagues who tease me about my wardrobe should take a long look at what they’re trying to pull off. But as I said, go with whatever is most comfortable for you.

I feel as if I’m at my best and most professional in a suit. I look prepared to meet with anyone at any time and never need to excuse myself for being a bit too casual. As Riner stated at the end of her article, “Feeling put-together can help boost your self-assurance.” Wearing a suit and tie allows me to feel put-together — but don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciate “flip-flop Fridays.”

Unfortunately, it’s true that a large segment of society still believes that the car a person drives and the clothing he wears are status symbols that accurately reflect the level of financial success he has achieved.

Wearing the best suit or driving the nicest car will never be a substitute for how we treat our clients. It’s far more vital to focus your energy on delivering the utmost care, integrity, honesty and loyalty to your customers than it is to obsess over how you look and what you drive. Yes, appearance is important. I would never discount that, but sometimes we get a bit too self-absorbed possibly alienating clients from wanting to work with us.

Steve Weiss is the owner-broker of Coast & County Brokers in San Luis Obispo, California. He’s been active in the real estate industry since 1986.

Email Steve Weiss.

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