Dressing as a Professional

I’ve heard the complaints from other appraisers that there are AMC’s out there that request that appraisers that work with them dress professionally. I’m not really sure why this bothers appraisers, maybe because they feel they already do dress professionally and they are offended to be asked?

Really, I don’t think it’s an outrageous request. You aren’t just representing yourself, you’re also representing the client who has a customer.  You’ve been asked to perform a service on behalf of their customer so I’m not sure where there’s a problem with the client asking you to appear in a professional manner. When it comes down to it, you don’t have to meet their demands.  You have the choice to move on and not work for that company.

Normally I don’t even give it a thought because, in my opinion, I already dress professionally. Most days I head into the office wearing a blue button-up dress shirt with a collar that I pair with khakis, blue socks and some knock-off Italian shoes. This has become kind of my professional uniform but it wasn’t always that way.  Honestly, I used to have a wardrobe that was exclusively from Walmart, usually jeans and a polo shirt.

Several years ago I was driving down the road listening to an audiobook written by Napoleon Hill.  If you’ve never heard of him, Napoleon Hill worked for Andrew Carnegie and he spent many years interviewing successful business men to find out the secrets to their success. Anyway, as I listened to this book, I remember a statement that hit me so strongly that I made a turn of action in my life regarding the way that I dressed.

I don’t remember the exact quote but it basically said that you become how you dress.  Kind of like you are what you eat except Napoleon Hill says that you are who you dress to become. This principle really stuck with me as being true and I wanted to change my own life. While I wasn’t really at a place, financially, to make a huge change to my wardrobe, I decided to step away from my Walmart clothes.

This isn’t really something I felt I should put on credit cards or anything and I wasn’t going to try and fill my closet with custom tailored Armani, but I did feel like I needed to step it up some.

After talking it over with my wife, I pulled some cash out of the budget and hit the mall. I went to Dillards and JCPenney and bought a few pieces that were very similar to what I wear today. I can’t remember the exact amount I spent, $350 sticks in my mind, but I added a half dozen dress shirts, three or four pairs of nice pants, dress socks and those faux Italian shoes.

I kid you not, it made a huge difference.  That year my net worth went up by 30%.  It probably wasn’t just the new wardrobe but dressing better changed my attitude and that was most likely a factor. I feel differently when I’m in my dress clothes than when I’m in jeans and a t-shirt.

I wouldn’t recommend that you go into debt to do it, but I would highly recommend that you look at how you could do better about dressing professionally. 

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 454

29 thoughts on “Dressing as a Professional”

  1. Pingback: Dressing as a Professional - Appraisal Buzz

  2. I had dressed that way for years…I was tried of replacing nice shirts, pants and shoes going thru mud, hanging nails, landscaping, kid toys, attic/basements, rose bushes, dogs jumping with stuff on their feet etc…It’s jeans, nice shirt and heavy work boots for me. 36 years in the business and having my best years. It is Texas so…

  3. Jeans and polo shirt with water proof boots due to the dirty work of conducting inspections in a humid climate with 95 degree temps and constant threat of rain.

  4. If I’m appraising a high-end home, I’ll dress up a bit. Otherwise, I’m in jeans and a polo or khaki cargo shorts and dress sandals when it’s hot out. I’m not working in the muck, crawling around an REO, or completing an FHA in dress clothes. Sweat pants, basketball shorts, t-shirts, or flip-flops are a big NO! They say clothes make the man, but just because you put a bow tie on a turd doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a turd.

  5. There are a lot of companies that employees who work in the field presenting themselves in peoples homes typically do so in a uniform like manner. I personally wear shirts with my company logo with a decent pair of similar khakis, always keep 2 types of work boots in my vehicle and another pair of shoes if needed. I am not sure if a tie or jacket is necessary in our line of business due to the fact that we are in some areas that require a lot of maneuvering and avoiding. During one of appraisal assignments as I was walking through the backyard wearing one of my heavy duty work boots due to the fact the homeowner recently had some renovations completed, a nail went through the bottom of my boot. I have to save I am extremely grateful that it did not pierce my foot. I informed the homeowner and also the lender. The lender decline to reimburse me for my work boots. Huh?

  6. Joe Appraiser's Cousin

    Love Joe Appraiser’s comment. The photo on the cover page of your email is you with your shirt untucked and in disarray, and you slouched over like you are sitting on the can. Pretty sure that isn’t what Hill was describing in Think and Grow Rich.

  7. In Florida , I wear Duluth Trading Store Grey or Khaki hi-Teck pants, Polo Golf shirts for high-end homes and Columbia ss collared shirts otherwise. The pants are water/tear-proof and dry quickly in the constant rainstorms. You pick your UNIFORM/COMPANY look and own it!!!

  8. Pierce Blitch III, IFAS, ASA

    I work in Augusta, GA so it’s a golf shirt and khakis….go figure. It is 95 degrees and 100% humidity in the Summer and I may change shirts in the middle of the day. Cole Haans in the office and Justin slip on boots with soft soles in the field.

  9. The request to appropriately dress would be fine. Thus leaving it up to the appraiser’s judgement, taking into consideration special conditions including weather & other issues surrounding the scope of the inspection. The problem arises when a requirement is made to dress in a specific manner. If a specific is made as a condition of employment unless there is a bilateral agreement made between AMC / Lender, the engagement of the appraiser no longer meets the definition of an independent contractor. The appraiser then becomes an employee subject to withholding , ..etc.. Be careful of what you sign. When such an agreement in place & your right of choice is signed away they are within their rights to withhold payment for wearing shorts in 110 degree weather in an extreme example. Food for thought.

  10. Wranglers …. Janzen/iZod/polo ….. tony llamas …. Stetson

    Hart/Shaffer/Marx corporate & Cole haan for court etc

    For 50 years ….

  11. Sold a company to a super-rich Valley tech company where the billionaires wear t shirts and exercise shorts or jeans from Target, or the like. Presented to VCs and all kinds of high powered people with millions on the line. I cannot stress this enough… in the modern world, if you told somebody of substance that you felt like more of a professional because of how you dressed, they would never hire you and probably snicker when you leave. Self worth, determination, intelligence and everything else of value comes from the inside – the person makes the person, not their clothes. Posers try and disguise their incompetence with cloth and leased expensive cars. What I learned is that you need to be organic – dress for what truly suits you, own it and be confident. I would focus on clean, neat, on-time and with a smile, good attitude and be as personable as possible and nobody worth knowing will even notice or care how you dressed.

    Where do you stop with the external self-worth? Do you have to drive a Mercedes or Lambo? Live only in Coral Gables? If you fly coach then you could never be a true professional and the really successful only fly Net Jets or on their own plane? Clothes are no different and I can assure you that nearly nobody worth knowing cares anymore short being an absolute slob… and slobs can show up in $5k tailored suits and newly leased luxury cars.

  12. I remember when I first started, wearing a trendy pair of ripped jeans and the borrower who was in his 70’s asked me if business was tough. I said, “no, why” and he said, “ obviously you can’t afford a pair of jeans with no holes and rips in them”. That was the last time I tried to be fashionable. 🤣

  13. I don’t understand the reasoning behind dressing better for the higher-end houses as mentioned a few times in the comments. What would make an appraiser feel they owe the borrowers/agents/clients for the higher end home loans a more professional “experience” than anyone else?

  14. Joe Appraiser's friend Ben H.

    I love it!

    Whewwee, the audience has done opened up a 55 gallon drum of whoop-a_s all over him!!

    If he keeps this up, Roy may turn Latisha loose on him and that’d be a bad day.

  15. I think it’s important to dress in a manner that makes us look professional and less threatening to more people. Not everyone will be threatened or judgmental about a guy or gal who is dressing unprofessional, but some might. We are being welcomed into someone’s home who doesn’t know us and they are judging us. If we look like a mess, the homeowner could be more likely to question our appraisal.

  16. WOW- I gotta tell you D, I think you hit it on the head and all these folks ripping you are missing it all.
    keep doing what you are doing. I am not paying you thousands of dollars …yet , but I gotta believe you help alot of appraisers here and in your mastermind groups make 2 and 3 times as much money as they have. for someone to denegrade you because you are trying to make money is way off base. Its simple Chris , You are representing a bank, and should dress the part 90% of the time. Keep the construction boots in your trunk for when you need em. keep the tank top in your back seat for when your done with the day and keep your ball cap on for the Yankee game.

  17. Khakis and a button down or polo shirt. I do wear hiking boots though as they are water resistant and also provide ankle support as I don’t know where all of the holes are in the customers yard. Also. The khakis allow me to see if I have any bugs on me when I leave a house.

  18. Dustin, thank you very much for bringing up this subject. Some people can fool themselves into thinking that it does not, but it most certainly does. If someone does not know how to dress appropriately it most certainly makes many homeowners, borrowers, agents and lenders question what else is this person not doing right. I understand that many markets are different so my dress code might not apply to every place. I don’t think we need wear a coat and tie. I wear dress pants, a shirt with a collar, no jeans or tennis shoes.

  19. I typically use dress pants and polo. I remember when I was an apprentice my trainer told me to dress nice since we were going to appraise a high end home. I wore dress pants, shirt and tie. I was shocked when she can in a minnie skirt, low cut blouse and sandals. Her normal was shorts in the summer so I guess it was her idea of professional : ) Thanks D I’ll have to look into this.

  20. Blue jeans, boots, and Polo or cotton shirt. Depending on the area, Kakis, boots, and a cotton shirt. You can easily snag a $85.00 polo shirt on a rose bush.

  21. Considering I own the business and set ALL policies, I’m never wrong. Either way, its 90% shorts, and give or take 50% flip flops. Of note, if I’ve wanted to work over the years, I’ve been able to work any day I wanted to.

    Seek the truth.

  22. This is hilarious !!!!! I love that most responses are from men !!!!! Of course, they would be since our industry consists primarily of men. Poor guys out there trying to figure out which polo shirt or Khakis to wear… or which jeans or cowboy boots are appropriate !!!!!!! I’ve been in this business for 30 years. Try being a 5’3″ woman who originally wore dresses and high heels for the job because I was told to dress professionally. Later I was told that I was overdressed for the job and that I should dress like the other woman at the office. She happened to be 5’10” with no curves and could easily pull off the polo / khaki / flat shoes style. Sorry Guys but no one was ever going to think that look was good for me. I need at least a 2″ heel to even reach the front door handle!!! I’ve been through a jeans / cowboy boot phase (which by the way the boots were pretty fashionable and functional and inspired numerous compliments everywhere I went). Eventually the boots were causing too many backaches and foot problems to continue wearing them. I’ve also been through the “dress pants” phase with beautiful blouses (how many appraisal inspections do you think I performed before having to throw out those beautiful clothes because of thorns, fence splinters, jumping dogs, filthy floors). When any particular shoe, shirt or pants became my favorite most functional style, guess what happened? Finding those same styles year after year? hahahahaha !!Not a chance in Women’s fashions that change constantly !!!!!!!!!!!!! And don’t even get me started about the bra situation !!!!!!! Just imagine every time you have to get into some awkward position and your bra strap or underwire needs readjusting. And try being a female lying on the floor in a closet peering into a crawl space while some guy is standing behind you in his house “to make sure that you are getting the photos that you need”. Where was that guy while I struggled to open the crawl space cover? Now, hmmm… how to get up off his dirty floor in my “professional” clothing in a manner that is not unbecoming to a lady? Not to mention that he has also been spouting out commentary about how great his house is compared to all of his neighbors. I agree with the Appraiser who wrote about meeting with Silicon Valley types. He’s absolutely spot on !! Most people in today’s culture could care less about what the Appraiser is wearing as long as that Appraiser is intelligent, experienced and exudes confidence. In a business where market trends matter, I’m not sure why we should hang on to antiquated ideas of what “dressing professionally” means. Think about it, your Lender Clients haven’t even defined “dressing professionally”. I live in the High Desert. Some days begin at 60 degrees with the temp later rising to 90 and perhaps followed up later with a snow storm or a dust storm or a forest fire. So try dressing for that Gentlemen. Enjoy your Polo shirts and your khakis that you will be able to find in the stores year after year. I will be busy adjusting my clothes to each day’s weather changes and praying that Sorrel keeps making some boots that don’t make me look like a lumberjack. When it’s all said and done, I consider myself fortunate in an industry where I can set my own schedule, my own fees and ultimately make my own clothing choices.

    1. As I said, I wear shorts 90% of the time, flip flops 50%, and a hat 100% of the time, I feel your pain Nancy. Considering I and not some office drone, or out of country assistant personally conduct at least one extensive phone interview (+/- 20 / 30 minutes), and sometimes two with the party of interest prior to setting an appointment, and send a photo (glamour shot), vehicle information, appraisers license, etc., my expertise and professionalism gets establish long before I tell them to dress casual because I will. Truth be told, I’ve shown up in cycling gear (bicycle), my riding gear (motorcycle), beach attire (post surfing), running gear, etc., and have never had a problem.

      Now, if your goal is to churn and burn 4 to 9 appraisals a day by way of outsourcing 90% of the appraisal process (no personal phone call / communication exchange, everything is delegated, etc.), good luck getting inside wearing what you want when you want. Again, considering I’m the owner and set policy, I can’t be wrong.

      Good luck to those who are a prisoner to the profession.

      Seek the truth.

      Seek the truth.

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