By John E. Baer, SRES, SRS
Older Americans can recall a time when gas stations provided full service, with window washers and gas attendants to pump your fuel.
They recall a time of service with a smile—and you don’t find much of that in today’s mobile-dominated environment, where text messages pass for conversation and e-signatures have replaced the ballpoint pen.
That’s why service providers who understand the needs of the older generation are important to these consumers.
Seniors Real Estate Specialists are REALTORS who have additional training to work with older clients. If we compare a real estate license to a bachelor’s degree, the SRES designation is the agent’s major. And, nationally, fewer than 2% of real estate agents have the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation.
SRES candidates must successfully complete additional coursework to understand such topics as reverse mortgages and the federal Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) as well as how the Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act impact real estate decisions.
They also are educated to create a customized approach to each situation: older homeowners planning life after retirement, transitioning from retirement with a companion, to life alone or contemplating selling the family home.
They are the center of a network of specialists like estate planners, elder-care attorneys and CPAs who can offer invaluable guidance to seniors deciding how best to manage this stage in their life.
An SRES is not just a REALTOR; an SRES is a trusted adviser to older Americans and to their adult children.
Those age 50 and older now represent 45% of the U.S. population, according to AARP. That demographic shift means the real estate industry must adapt to the needs of those who intend to remain in their homes as they age and those who want other options. SRES agents understand the importance of identifying and sharing senior oriented resources that can benefit their clients and other family members. They are trained to listen to their needs and to offering potential solutions. This distinguishes them from other real estate agents and makes them a valued asset to their clients.
During this phase of life, real estate should be handled with a holistic approach. Senior clients often come with other generations of family members to consider. SRES agents are trained to navigate the delicate dynamics of adult children caring for older parents, for instance, while also allowing the elder parent to maintain their dignity.
If you are over age 50 and considering a new home purchase, selling your family residence, or transitioning into a care-based facility, here are four ways an SRES can help:
• For seniors opting to age in place, an SRES can refer a specialist who can evaluate your home, find problem areas and suggest home modifications. The aging-in-place remodeling market is valued at about $25 billion annually, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Having someone to help you navigate appropriate repairs could save you money.
• An SRES may be able to direct you to community, government and private programs designed to provide additional financial assistance. Many seniors may qualify for programs that can help them save money, but they do not apply because they don’t know the program exists. SRES agents are trained to save you time and point you in the right direction.
• An SRES may be able to refer you to a local geriatric care manager, senior groups and agencies within the community that provide in-home assisted living services.
• An SRES is trained to be patient with their senior clients. They can refer clients to de-clutter specialists to prepare the home prior to listing. They can also refer to tax specialists who can prepare the estate prior to selling.
When it comes to caring for seniors, REALTORS who have earned the SRES designation are the real estate industry’s answer to the question, “Where do we start?” Start with an SRES.
John E. Baer, SRES, SRS is a NYS licensed real estate salesperson associated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Westchester Properties of Scarsdale and Larchmont. He can be reached for questions at 914/600-6086 or at 914/844-2059. His website is www.WestchesterHomes.info.