How to Work With Senior Real Estate Clients

By Ann Heinz, JD, CDEI
Mar 22, 2022
Working with Seniors in Real Estate

For real estate professionals, the senior real estate market can be very rewarding, both financially and personally. This is especially true for those real estate professionals who are passionate about helping their clients with some of the most important decisions of their lives.

Learning more about the senior real estate market and senior clients is an excellent form of professional development for real estate professionals. As with any market segment, real estate professionals who take the time to understand the general characteristics, values, needs, and concerns of the senior market will be able to better serve their older clients.

Characteristics of the Senior Real Estate Market

Every client is different, and the senior market (traditionally defined as those age 65 and older) is represented by a unique and diverse group of individuals. There are important differences between working with senior clients (such as “baby boomers” or the “traditionalist” generation), as opposed to younger clients like millennials and first-time homebuyers.

An estimated 10,000 baby boomers reach age 65 every day, and by the year 2030, all baby boomers will have reached or passed age 65. Consider these additional facts about the senior real estate market:

  • Senior citizens have a net worth that is three times greater than that of younger generations.
  • Seniors own 65% of the aggregate net worth of all U.S. households.

Consumers over age 65 are also more likely than any other age group to own their homes. Nearly 79% of households headed by those over age 65 own their own homes.

Some real estate professionals may shy away from the senior market because they think the market is too small, while actually the market is rapidly growing. Professionals who take the time to learn about the senior market will find that they can do more than simply help a client to sell or relocate — they can help a client thrive in their retirement years.

Helping Senior Clients with Housing Decisions

There are numerous reasons why senior clients may choose to buy or sell a home. Some senior clients may wish to retire to condominiums located in mild climates, but it’s a myth to presume that such a scenario represents the ideal retirement for everyone!

Understanding the client’s motivation for change is the first step in identifying how you can best help your senior real estate client. The best way to learn your senior client’s reason for purchasing or selling a home is to simply ask them and then really listen to their answers.

Housing changes can sometimes be extremely difficult for senior clients, including financially, physically, and emotionally. Some clients are facing a housing change due to circumstance beyond their control and fear that the change may not be right for them. Even clients who are relocating to fulfill their retirement dreams may be somewhat reluctant to make the change—particularly when it means leaving behind a home and community where they raised a family or spent most of their adult life.

Your role as a real estate professional is not to act as a counselor or social worker for the client. However, there are ways you can assist the client in embracing change and gaining a more positive view of relocation. Again, really listening to clients’ wants and needs will help you advise your clients in how to make their changes a reality without creating undue stress.

How Can Real Estate Professionals Help Senior Clients?

You may not be able to alleviate all of your client’s fears about moving, but it is possible to make it easier by continuing to focus on the positive aspects of relocation and to reinforce that the decision to relocate, while difficult, is the right decision.

How can you, as a real estate professional, support your senior clients? The following is a short list of ways you can help your senior clients:

  • Work with family members to help them understand that the client’s fears are normal.
  • Be patient with the client. You may receive numerous phone calls (even daily) asking some of the same questions over and over. If this happens, treat every phone call as important as the first and take the time to listen and completely answer all questions.
  • Ask the client to assess their current living situation to help them embrace the change. For example, a senior client who is worried about costly maintenance of their current home can be reminded that they won’t have that concern at the new home.
  • Take the client to visit their new home. For example, if a client is planning to move to an assisted living apartment, it may help to visit several times before move-in.
  • Suggest that senior clients talk to those they trust about their decision to relocate, such as their attorney or clergy or a good friend who has had the experience of relocating and is enjoying the results.
  • Ask positive questions about the move. (What do you like about your new home? How do you plan to decorate your home? Will you enjoy cooking, gardening, etc.? Are you excited to be near your grandchildren?)
  • Plan to support your client through every step of the process. For example, be sure to accompany your client to closing if they want you there so that you can explain the process and purpose of the paperwork to your client, and plan a post-move visit to your client’s new home.

Most importantly, don’t discount your client’s fears—imagine how traumatic it can be to leave one’s home behind and move to a new and unfamiliar place. You can instead help your client to keep looking forward to the ways in which the move will improve the quality of their life.

Learn More About Working With Senior Real Estate Clients

WebCE’s new real estate CE course, Working with Senior Clients in Real Estate, is designed to help real estate agents and real estate brokers better understand how to successfully work with their senior clients. Real estate professionals who complete this course will be able to (among other things):

  • explain general characteristics of the senior demographic
  • list the various reasons why senior clients may choose to, or may need to, move from their homes, or look for new homes
  • describe the types of housing commonly available for senior clients and how certain options may best align with the client’s needs and expectations
  • recognize the service expectations of senior clients as well as effective ways to communicate with senior clients
  • explain how to work with family members and recognize situations when family members need to be involved while still maintaining the privacy of client information
  • explain special marketing considerations when working with senior clients and how marketing to seniors may differ compared to other demographics

To order this course and more, visit the WebCE Real Estate CE Catalog or use the buttons below!

Real Estate CE Catalog