Best Dressed? The debate about estate agents and suits


You see a person hovering in a residential area. It’s about midday. They’re dressed in a suit. Chances are you’ve spotted yourself an estate agent.

Out of place or helpfully recognisable?

The debate on whether the industry should still adopt a suit and tie comes and goes but is perhaps more prevalent in our digital age. It’s certainly a stark contrast to people’s “work from home” attire that many took up in 2020 during the coronavirus lockdown.

So are suits still relevant today?

One agency has ditched the tie

London-based estate agency James Pendleton have encouraged staff to dress well but not in suit and tie, in an effort to evolve with the times.

CEO Lee Pendelton said: “It had been coming for some time and we realised that, although we are sales people, our job is really to be a consultant to our customers, and they rarely meet us in suits these days.”

He added: “Staff need to be smart; but not having a tie at the very least breaks down that formal barrier between them and their clients.”

The agency has found a mostly positive response to this change. As few to none of their clients wear suits it seems appropriate that they match them in dress code. No one likes being the odd one out at a party after all.

But is less formal really better?

Many still believe agencies should keep the suits. And their reasoning is due to the nature of the industry. Clients may be making a decision on selling, or what property to buy or rent – it’s not an everyday, insignificant decision. And so the dress code should mirror this, for professionalism and respect to the clients.

Paul Mahoney from Nova Financial said: “Stick with the suits to gain credibility with clients — something that can otherwise prove difficult. There are industries where a suit isn’t appropriate but property is certainly one where it remains relevant.”

The question is really about customer expectation and rapport. And perhaps, what works in selling a block of luxury apartments in the city doesn’t quite chime in more rural or suburban areas?

Ben Babington, founder of land and new homes agency Trilogy believes it’s the large and well established estate agencies who are sticking to traditional suit and tie, while independent and specialist agents adopt a more casual attire.

And so, the debate continues…