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Some Things to Consider When Assisting Senior Home Buyers

September 5, 2012

Buying or selling a home is complicated for anyone, but especially for seniors who have many added issues. Issues facing senior citizens when selling or buying homes are much different than first-time home buyers and young buyers.  With an increasing number of aging baby boomers and empty-nesters relocating and moving into properties for retirement, it is important to understand the unique challenges, opportunities, and preferences of a senior buyer.

 First of all, it is important for anyone who is specializing in senior housing to become listed with the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council as a preferred and trusted realtor in the industry. The completion of the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation Course is essential for realtors in understanding the distinct real estate goals, concerns, and needs of seniors today.

 When approached by a senior home buyer, an agent should first determine whether the senior should really buy or not at that time. Look at it from a wants or needs point of view, not a financial point of view. Many seniors have lived in their homes for a lifetime with built-up memories and may be reluctant to move if they don’t absolutely have to. There are many potential solutions to help them stay in their current home as long as possible. While it might be tempting to encourage them to “make a move” in order to make a sale, if you do what is right for them at that time, they will come back to you when they are truly ready to buy, and may even refer you to others.

 Many seniors need help determining when and where  to move,  decreasing belongings accumulated over the years, and coordinating the details involved in a move. A Real Estate Agent should be prepared to help them, or find an organization that can provide assistance for their particular needs.

 Each situation is unique as not every senior is the same. While many seniors are still in the work force and don’t want to give up their professional lifestyle, some may be retired and need home care. Know the client’s lifestyle before putting together a list of properties. What are their priorities? Where do they see themselves in the next few years?

 Evaluate the level of care the buyer needs. Do they need assisted living? Are they having any issues of mobility? Keep in mind, this is a home the buyer needs to live comfortably in for years to come. The Real Estate Agent might have to locate a retirement community that is designed and maintained with focus on the special requirements of today’s active seniors.

 Helping seniors find a home does not always mean decreasing size. Many senior home buyers want to increase the convenience of their homes by eliminating maintenance while still maintaining the size and luxury they are accustomed to. Do they still need space for grandchildren or children? Each situation is different. It is up to the Real Estate Agent to discover the credentials in order to close the deal.

 Discuss layout options with your clients. While home buyers don’t necessarily want to trade style for functionality, even active seniors will appreciate options like fewer stairs. Do they need in home assistance? What kind of facilities should you find to show them based on their level of care needed? Where will they be in ten years? It is important to discuss these with your client to ensure you find them the ideal residence. Again, a happy client not only closes the sale, but also builds referrals!

 One of the most important considerations for seniors when buying a home is the location. Is it close to family, children, and grandchildren? With increasing issues in mobility, a Real Estate Agent needs to ensure that senior home buyers are in close proximity to good public transportation, medical facilities, and recreation. Are sidewalks nearby? Accessibility to parks and recreation? Street plowing? Provide clients with as much year-round information about the property and area as possible.

 Be considerate and understanding about the concerns of your client. For seniors who have spent a lifetime in their home, leaving memories behind and moving into a new, unfamiliar territory can be emotionally difficult. Make a connection with them and be in tune with their mindset. Comfort them based on past clients and reassure them that they are making the right decision based on their original wants and needs. The harder you work to fit their needs, the more likely you will close the sale and acquire potential clients.

With more than 20% of the United States population aged 50 or higher, Real Estate Agents will be faced with more and more senior home buyers. Moving for this demographic often involves trading homes to better suit needs, and it is important for the agent to understand they are different from the young, first time home buyer in many ways. These tips should help the process move forward as efficiently as possible.

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