You have all heard the saying, “The wealth is in the niches.” In order to differentiate themselves in today’s competitive environment, many real estate professionals are looking for this niche to stand out from the crowd. Given the large number Of the baby boomers who are retiring – 28.6 million in Q3 2020 alone – more brokers than ever before view senior real estate as a profitable sector, both financially and personally.
According to Stacey Cohen, President and CEO of Co-Communications, effectively communicating your personal brand and answering the question, “Why are you choosing me?” Is of the utmost importance in establishing your confidence in the senior market.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to build thought leadership and become the one stop shop in the senior market by developing relevant content and implementing a multi-channel approach (websites, blogs, social media, print, ads, email blasts),” said Cohen .
Cohen suggests building a “consistent and compelling image” by sharing “positive customer testimonials, achievements, success stories, content (both curated and self-published)” as well as professional speeches and deserved media opportunities.
To build that reputation for success in the senior market, you need a track record with optimal results. As a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES), your job isn’t just helping seniors, and often their family carers sell their home for the best possible price. They are also there to help them steer the sales process in such a way that they feel safe as they embark on the next stage of their life journey.
The right mix of soft and hard skills plays a critical role in leading the senior real estate industry today. We asked successful senior real estate specialists to share their key insights and strategies with us.
Know that patience is more than a virtue
The most important trait of a real estate professional working with seniors is patience. An SRES acts as an advisor rather than a seller. Older clients often face difficult life choices and need someone with the skills to nurture a relationship and think through all of the pros and cons of this next step.
Allison Jaffe, owner of Key Real Estate Services in New Rochelle, New York, explains, “An SRES will wait and help overcome the legal, logistical and emotional hurdles that must be overcome before a long-standing home is sold. This is perhaps the easiest and fastest step. “
Chris J. Henry, real estate agent at Estate & Investment Realty Group in Marin and San Francisco North Bay, turns his first meeting with seniors into an educational moment. His company provides “full education” to senior customers and their families with a visual presentation and handouts.
“We review and review areas that should be dealt with first: financial planning and taxes, and what to do with personal property,” said Henry. “We then review all the basic steps involved in a real estate transaction.”
Finally, Henry discusses their post-sale goals with customers to find a way forward. “When the big puzzle is broken down into small, simple pieces, everyone is much happier with the speed and steps of a transaction,” he said.
According to Beth Little of Northville, Michigan’s My Total Move, patience and empathy are keys to working with older customers. “Fear of change and the unknown plays a big role in your decision-making process. Therefore, it is important that me and my team are heard and understood so that the process goes smoothly for everyone.”
Little feels that relationship building helps keep everyone on the same page and simplifies the process for agents, senior customers, and their families. It is also important to be aware of the challenges that the move creates.
“These types of customers don’t like being rushed or sold because they sometimes sell when they don’t want to when health or financial circumstances compel them,” Little said. “Tactical empathy and always being open and honest is the best way to work with this demographic.”
Use your network, it’s your fortune
Brokers helping seniors must have access to a trusted team of advisors – financial planners, attorneys, accountants, and others – to meet the specific needs of their senior clients. By providing recommendations, advice, and guidance throughout the buying and selling process, these agents and brokers provide their clients with the extensive attention they need and deserve.
Jaffe emphasizes the importance of working together as the SRES can become part of a team that can include an attorney, financial planner, elderly care manager, caregiver, daily money manager, assisted living manager, specific power of attorney, and others.
According to Henry, the real estate agent plays a role in facilitating housekeeping, which can include people helping organize and clean up clutter, as well as helping with painting, plumbing, and gardening.
His team could be asked to coordinate and manage property improvements, roll out rollouts and provide information as needed to help senior clients with the logistics of downsizing and moving.
“The saying ‘it takes a village’ is vital in building a senior real estate business,” said Little. She takes time to learn about local vendors and tour senior housing facilities so she knows she’s making recommendations to people who care about her customers’ interests.
Negotiate from a win-win perspective
The buying and selling process should be a win-win situation for both the parties and the family members that will help care and advise the senior customer. Focus on solutions and how to overcome hurdles, rather than giving in to the temptation to get into a controversial relationship with the other agent in the transaction.
An SRES must act as an objective guide throughout the sales process, Jaffe said. Transactions for seniors require “respect for conflicting emotions between parents and adult children, spouses, siblings and even extended families”.
Little’s communication style focuses on the individual and their personality type. When working with older adults, she uses techniques such as tactical empathy – recognizing and understanding their feelings – and mirroring. “When a customer feels listened to and understood,” said Little, “they are more open to what I advise them about.”
Strategically plan staging and sales
An SRES must help seniors and their families determine the need for staging by asking the right questions and helping them think through the pros and cons. It is necessary? Do I have the time Do I have the resources?
According to Little, even in a seller’s market, staging, along with professional photos and extensive marketing, is “very important to get the best price for the house.” To make delivery easier for customers working on a budget, Little pays the seller a free delivery to the seller as part of their comprehensive high-end service.
“I want the seller to know that I have a hand in selling their home to help them understand that we are in partnership in selling their most valuable assets,” said Little.
Henry believes the staging is important as it offers a higher return on investment than selling the property as it is. “Buyers want to see how space can be used, and staging brings a space to life,” he said. For older homeowners on a budget, Henry said that many stagers can accept payments from the sales proceeds or use virtual staging as a cheaper alternative.
“All in all, a pig’s lipstick won’t work when a property is seriously derelict with an abundance of delayed maintenance,” Henry said. “Buyers are looking through, so it’s best to only focus on the right group of buyers, usually contractors or pinball machines.”
Adaptation and introduction of new technologies
Make open days and home tours as virtual as possible to keep everyone safe and maximize convenience for senior customers. Do a better job than your competition by showcasing homes for sale and sharing information.
When working with older clients, look for their different technical skills. “Each senior has a different understanding of technology, and I usually estimate what they’re comfortable with during the initial consultation,” said Little.
Little and her team set expectations of the preferred method of communication, be it phone calls, texts or e-mails, and determine whether they should go inside for a personal signature and a short tutorial on electronic signatures. If you take this time in advance, you will “avoid a lot of confusion and stress for everyone.”
According to Jaffe, respect and respect is shown when working with experienced salespeople. “An SRES has the ability to respect an elderly homeowner’s autonomy – perhaps the most stressful loss of aging – by giving that owner the respect, signing documents, receiving updates, reviewing bids, negotiating and participating to be present at personal closings for as long as they are reasonable and willing to do so when others are authorized to enter. “
Christy Murdock Edgar is a real estate agent, freelance writer, coach, and consultant, and owner of Write real estate. She is also the creator of the online course Creating the Property Description: The step-by-step formula for reluctant property writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.