By Brandon Doyle
Census data shows that seniors, or adults age 65 and older, amount to a whopping 46.2 million U.S. citizens—and that was back in 2014. In the next two decades, research predicts that number will more than double. In other words, if you aren’t expanding your real estate expertise to include specialized work with seniors, you’re missing out on a massive market. Here are a few specific tips to keep in mind as you guide members of an aging population toward the goal of homeownership.
1. There are a new set of factors to keep in mind.
Seniors have a different set of circumstances to consider when it comes to buying or selling a home than first-time homebuyers or a growing family might. As a senior shops or sells, he or she might be weighing matters such as a fixed retirement income, accessibility issues within a new home, or buying a home within a retirement community. Assessing a senior client’s short- and long-term goals as you spearhead a purchase or sale will not only endear you to your client, but can also help you tailor your time and efforts with efficiency.
2. Remember: location, location, location.
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Everyone knows this real estate mantra, but seniors prioritize location more than any other group, and for a host of reasons. Some seniors want to move closer to growing grandchildren; others are retired and want to take advantage of recreational opportunities; some no longer drive, so proximity to basic services is essential. No matter the reason, discuss location goals with senior clients interested in buying a new or second home. Likely, location will be at the top of their must-have list.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
Buying or selling a home later in life comes with its own unique set of factors and considerations, but it’s important not to paint your older clients with a broad brush. For instance, it’s a common misconception that elderly homebuyers are solely interested in downsizing. In fact, baby boomers frequently seek homes of a similar or larger size than the one they’re selling, oftentimes to accommodate children, grandchildren, or make room for luxuries to enjoy in retirement. The quickest way to offend your senior client is to make assumptions about their goals.
4. Adjust your communication methods.
It’s common to conduct business via e-mail and text message these days, and while plenty of seniors have become tech savvy later in life, you may have to adjust your means of communication as you pair with elderly clientele. Many prefer face-to-face meetings or phone calls, and documents that you might’ve scanned and sent via e-mail may be better presented in person. Likewise, touring a home may extend beyond a web-surfing session. While you may have to adjust your methods, seniors who rely on in-person and by-phone communication are generally quick to respond, rather than having to play e-mail tag.
A big part of growing your business and innovating is learning to cater to new markets and clientele. With that in mind, keep these simple, big-picture tips at the forefront as you build your specialty in serving seniors in their real estate endeavors.
Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. He is also coauthor of the book M3 – Mindset, Methods & Metrics: Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent available now on Amazon. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.