Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation Course
The SRES designation course helps real estate professionals develop the business-building skills and resources for specialization in the 50-and-older real estate market by expanding knowledge of how life stages impact real estate choices. This course seeks to instill knowledge, understanding, and empathy for 50 and older real estate clients and customers. To find the next available course, visit texasrealestate.com/findacourse and choose Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation Course from the Course dropdown menu.
You can better serve your older homebuyers and sellers by adapting your services to their needs and preferences.
Zelda Cain and Reba Saxon, who teach the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation course, recommend these strategies when working with senior clients:
Know Who Makes Decisions and Who Stays Informed
Your client may involve additional decision makers, such as adult children. Ask your client to name, in writing, who should be involved and kept informed, Cain says. Make sure the list stays current; the decision makers may change during the transaction.
Your client and these decision makers may communicate differently—perhaps your client likes phone calls and the adult children prefer texting. Be sure to accommodate preferences to keep everyone in the loop, Saxon adds.
“Don’t just send documents via email, and don’t send them only to family members,” Cain says.
Know What They’re Looking For
Some seniors want to downsize, while others may want a larger house to share with family members.
Saxon says buyer clients are looking for accessibility and the ability to age in place. That can mean single story houses, bathrooms and doorways that can accommodate a walker or wheelchair, and places to install ramps.
First floor bedrooms, bathtubs, and wheelchair-accessible showers are desirable home features, Cain says. Proximity to goods and services, such as doctors’ offices and grocery stores, is also a consideration.
Learn What Clients Expect from You
Every client is different, but many seniors prefer a high-touch experience.
“If you say you are going to do something, they expect you do it,” Cain says. “If you say you’re going to be at a certain place at a certain time, be there five minutes beforehand.”
Cain recommends following up two to three times per week to update senior clients on the status of the transaction. Offer to go over inspection reports and other documents with them. Make sure your client understands each step in the process.
Bring copies of important paperwork. “Senior buyers are getting to the point where they will do electronic signatures, but they really like paper,” she says.
Do Your Homework
Some older clients have unique circumstances. They may be interested in researching reverse mortgages or qualifying for over-65 tax exemptions. They may want to purchase a home using a trust. Be prepared to refer clients to estate lawyers or CPAs.
“Seniors are not going to be as agile at locating people. So finding referrals for trustworthy professionals can be an extremely important part of the services a REALTOR® can provide,” Saxon says.
Senior buyers may make slower decisions because they are worried about making the wrong choice, Saxon says. It may take a while to get the house ready to sell; your clients may need to part with some possessions.
Sometimes senior clients may just want to talk and want someone to listen to them, Cain says.
“There’s a lot more wrapped up into selling the house than just simply changing residences.” Saxon adds. “They could be changing their level of independence. There could be a lot of emotion involved.”