In today’s ever-changing real estate landscape, many agents are finding that more often, they are working with clients over the age of 50 who may be downsizing or children of seniors who are getting ready to transition into a retirement community.

One step is to secure a Seniors Real Estate Specialists designation. SRES-designated Realtors have the qualifications to address the needs of home buyers and sellers over the age of 50. Realtors with this designation have demonstrated the necessary knowledge and expertise to counsel clients who are over the age of 50 through major financial and lifestyle transitions in relocating, refinancing, or selling the family home.

As an agent, following demographic trends is key to your business. If you’ve been doing this, you are aware that the population is aging. Depending on your location, this could present a huge opportunity for you. And with that opportunity will come some challenges.

When working to capture a larger slice of this opportunity, it isn’t enough to say you’re a specialist. You have to BE one and have the designation to prove it. This is where the SRES designation will be a valuable tool for your business.

According to the National Association of Realtors, obtaining the SRES designation involves taking a two-day course and earning at least 80 percent on the final examination. You will also be required to join the SRES Council and maintain active membership as long as you use this designation.

Beyond securing the designation, you will want to become an authority on issues that are important to seniors, such as aging in place, shared housing and other real estate options.

You also will want to be well-versed in reverse mortgages and be connected to senior moving experts, financial planners, health care advocates and any other appropriate resources in your market.

Always listen and if your senior clients are involving other family members, don’t overlook their importance and needs in the process. Sometimes, adult children will involve themselves in the process even if their parents haven’t asked them. You will have to be prepared for this.  The best advice is to listen to all sides and play no favorites between the various parties.

 

When it comes down to it, seniors considering the move often don’t “feel ready” to leave the house they’ve called home for decades. For adult children, it also can be difficult to watch their childhood home sold and a new family moving in. For the agent, offering assistance and support while focusing on the future is key.

You can help your clients develop downsizing strategies. By gaining knowledge and experience in this area, you can add value to your SRES designation and gain a competitive advantage. This is not time for rushing or pressure. Often, people cling to possessions in time of stress, so never tackle an entire house at once. They can liquidate possessions and feel good about it by making donations. The clients also would be best-served not to hold a huge yard sale themselves. They can hire a specialist to hold an estate sale. It will be well worth the commission to have a pro handle the job.

As an agent, you don’t need to be involved in every aspect yourself, but it is important to have the connections to every possibility. You should have the information easily accessible on a tablet or smartphone so that you can provide it at a moment’s notice. Business cards also are valuable when working with older clients who may still appreciate having a tangible item for a contact.

Realtor Paul Silverman, who has been in the real estate and home-building business since 1995, noted that multi-generational housing has become a growing trend. A record 60.6 million Americans, or about 20 percent of the population, live in multigenerational households, according to a 2016 analysis by the Pew Research Center using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The analysis defined a multigenerational household as one where two or more adult generations live under one roof, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren.

With the SRES designation, you will be positioned to help clients considering this option.

Lastly, you will want to develop patience, empathy and be as understanding as possible. Going above and beyond in these areas will create a positive experience for you and your clients. If you are armed with a great network of contacts and demonstrate these qualities, you can become a true seniors real estate specialist.