How to choose a seniors real estate agent**Editor’s Note: This older blog article cites the value of the SRES accreditation (American), but we recommend seeking real estate agents certified by the Accredited Senior Agent Program (ASA), a Canadian program.
So you’ve decided that you would like to move and the time has come to sell your family home. One of the first things you need to do is to find the right REALTOR® for you. Like any other home seller, seniors often start their research online and by asking friends and family members for referral recommendations, which are both good places to start.
The following are some thoughts to keep in mind as you go through the selection process.
In real estate, like all professions, there are those who work with certain clients and have the training and expertise to serve specific niche markets. Some REALTORS® choose to work specifically with first time buyers, new Canadians, investors, divorce, or move up buyers.
Agents who specialize in selling seniors' homes
There are also those that are specially designated to service the real estate needs of the mature ‘fifty-plus’ community. Many REALTORS® who choose to work with boomers and more mature clients have received the designation of SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) and may be better qualified to assist this group with buying and selling a home.
As with any particular type of niche, the sale process with seniors has its own unique set of issues that must be addressed. A REALTOR® specially trained to consult and assist the fifty-plus market with their transition often have additional services and systems to make the experience as smooth, comfortable and stress free as possible.
Some of these services and systems may include:
Extra help and guidance. There are many seniors who are widowed and living alone in their family home and just aren’t sure of the next steps. If they don’t have local relatives to help them get started a REALTOR® trained to work with seniors will set up free initial consultations to describe how the process works and will present all the options for the transition. Depending on the circumstances it may require a few consultations to make certain that you are one hundred percent informed and comfortable. And if it is your wish, they can bring a remote relative into the process through phone calls and email.
Slower pace. The home selling experience is complex and many ideas and contracts are presented during the process. A good REALTOR® knows their client and if it is warranted, wanted or beneficial will present everything in a slower paced format. This means the client can relax and feel that at each point they have time to properly sift and digest the information without being pressured or rushed. As a result, everything is thoroughly understood and stress levels are much lower.
Contracts in plain English. Even before a sale occurs, a good REALTOR® will sit down with copies of all the usual contracts, in larger type if requested, written in layman’s terms. This extra consultation will prepare you for all the paperwork that will occur during the transaction and allow you to ask questions or address concerns early so that when an actual offer is made you clearly know what you’re signing, why you’re signing it and what the expectations for the outcomes will be.
Encouragement. Not everyone wants friends and family members to be privy to the details of their real estate transaction, but for those who want others to be involved, be it for support or as a sounding board, the REALTOR® should always welcome and encourage it.
Guidance. The decision to transition to another home is a big one and there are lots of housing choices and options. Depending on your goals, you may be searching for a town home, bungalow or condominium. A good REALTOR® will carefully present all the options, even those that won’t earn them compensation such as retirement communities, assisted living, or long term care.
Special rates for professional fees. There are many REALTORS® who have automatically discounted rates on commission for seniors so there is no need to worry about the stress of negotiating a deal.
Supporting professionals. The home selling process involves many professionals and a good REALTOR® can usually recommend a few that they know who have good reputations and that they have worked successfully with in the past. This may include professionals such as lawyers, inspectors, lenders, stagers, estate planners, insurance and financial advisors.
During the process of selecting an agent you should be aware of some potential warning flags:
Pressure. The agent pressures you to sign a contract with them without giving you ample time to reflect or think about the decision.
Lack of explanation. The agent does not take the time to explain absolutely everything you sign in as much detail as needed for you to completely understand. They may even brush it off.
Failure to provide supporting documentation. The agent suggests a price for the home but does not prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to share with you about the price opinion. Although it is illegal and unethical, it is unfortunate that there are some that will see an opportunity to take advantage of a senior by pricing the home lower than market value, sell it to a buyer that is connected to them and then quickly re-sell it for the actual higher market price to make a profit. Why seniors more often? They have lived in their homes for decades sometimes and even a low price can seem high if they haven’t been keeping tabs on the market over the years.
No references. The agent will not provide references of past clients for you to contact. Past performance is generally an indicator of future performance and they either don’t have good references, or don’t feel it’s important to provide them. Neither is good.
Isolation. The agent discourages you from having friends, family or other support during any part of the transaction. This is an attempt at isolating you and you should ask yourself why they might do that. It should always be cause for concern.
Keeping these points in mind will definitely make your search for the right REALTOR® an easier one. Select carefully as there is so much depending on it. To find an SRES in your area visit seniorsrealestate.com.
**Editor’s Note: We recommend, instead, that you seek real estate agents certified by the Accredited Senior Agent Program (ASA), a Canadian program.
What has your experience been like when selling your home? Did you work with a senior real estate specialist? Share your experience in the Comments below.