When I became licensed as a real estate agent years ago, I am embarrassed to admit that I actually worried that I would need an elegant wardrobe and expensive shoes to fit the image of the “ladies who play tennis in the morning and play real estate in the afternoon”. I didn’t and still don’t play tennis. I entered the real estate business as a full-time professional. BUT… after having a Ferragamo sucked off in the mud at a new construction site, getting countless stiletto heels caught and skinned on hundreds of wooden decks, and watching my leather shoes crack from repeatedly getting wet, I learned that practical footwear rules!
The ideal female real estate shoe wardrobe, all of which should be kept in the trunk of an agent’s car at all times for instant access and use would include:
1) Sneakers, tennis shoes, tennis runners, athletic shoes or whatever you call them for previewing properties. Previewing is fast-paced – in and out of each property in five to ten minutes, covering dozens of properties in a couple of hours. Previewing ten homes equals running a mile; I’m sure of it.
2) Hiking boots for walking land or previewing mountain properties (“Why, yes, I did walk all the way to the creek”).
3) Designer four-inch stiletto heels for attending other agents’ luncheons and caravan open houses (“Why, yes, I always dress this elegantly and never break a sweat!”). These can also come in handy as weapons, if needed.
4) Wedges, which can substitute for the stiletto heels from the front but give away the wearer’s faint-of-heart status when viewed from the side.
5) Driving shoes or moccasins after leaving the swanky agent luncheon to avoid the dreaded “Realtor heel”, the telltale worn spot on the heel of the right shoe caused by friction with the car mat under the accelerator during the 40,000 miles you drive annually.
6) Dressy and casual flats or low heels for actually showing properties to buyers/tenants. We always want to project a professional image but not necessarily intimidate our clients and customers by drawing attention to the dressiness of our attire compared to the buyer’s/tenant’s attire. My rule has always been to dress one or two levels above what I expect the buyer/tenant to be wearing. And I have advised the buyer/tenant to dress “comfortably” to view properties. HINT: The higher the price of the property, the higher the heel.
7) Waders, preferably chest-high, for showing new construction on rainy days. Seriously. Little rain boots or even Wellies may not provide the “protection” needed. If your shoe budget doesn’t allow for some good old reinforced hunting waders, ask the builder whose property you are showing to meet you at the curb with waders.
8) Snow boots are ideal if there’s snow on the ground.
9) Golf cleats can really come in handy if it’s icy outside. They might help you avoid an embarrassing fall. I bet a lot of agents wish they had these in Atlanta’s ice storm in January.
10) Flip flops or sandals for showing beach-front property (we wish!).
11) Clogs = NO. No explanation needed.
Men, you can skip the stilettos if you prefer, but would substitute your most brilliantly polished dress shoes.
Needless to say, all of the above should be “slip on” models or use Velcro fasteners to facilitate slipping off shoes after entering a property, especially when the owner has posted a “Please remove your shoes” sign. This, in turn, necessitates that socks or stockings (does anyone still use this term?) be in good condition and MATCH. Slipping off your loafers to reveal your heel protruding from a threadbare sock undermines your credibility as a professional and objective agent.