Becoming a 55+ Real Estate Agent

Older couple chatting with Realtor
A good 55+ real estate agent understands the unique needs of senior clients.

Are you considering adding a real estate designation to your list of accomplishments? How about becoming a 55+ real estate agent?

There are 74.9 million Baby Boomers (51-69) and between 21.2 million and 28.4 million members of the Silent Generation (75-92). That means there are lots of older Americans who can use help searching for their new home — and being a 55+ agent can put you at an advantage over other agents with no such designation.

When you work with 55+ homebuyers, it’s important to understand your client’s needs at this stage in life and to understand the needs of buyers at the younger and older sides of this age segment. And, it’s important to understand how new-construction homes fit into the picture: According to the 2017 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, “new home purchased increased with age, 15 percent for buyers 37 to 51 years and 21 percent for those 71 to 91 years.”

“Our buyers know exactly what they want at this stage in their life,” says BreAnn Hake, sales manager and designated broker with Shea Homes in Washington state. “Typically, buyers are downsizing, so the amount of storage and garage space is less critical than really functional and comfortable living spaces.”

What to Know About Working with 55+ Homebuyers

“When I work with 55 to 65, they are more comfortable with email and still feel they need space for family gatherings,” says Ann Willets, a Realtor with Keller Williams Shore Properties in Toms River, N.J. “When I work with buyers in their 80s, they prefer to sign things the old-fashioned way. (This group) tends to look for ranch homes with no stairs and often look at communities with graduate care (independent living, assisted living, nursing care).”

Willets says she gained added insight into the special needs of older homebuyers by earning a Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation from the National Association of Realtors.

Being a 55+ agent means knowing what types of housing these buyers want and needs. For example, knowing the difference between an age-restricted community and an age-targeted community is important for buyers who might want to live in a community that has both older and younger families. You should also know the differences between assisted living facilities and extended care facilities for buyers who might have a disabled spouse. Knowing which new-home communities and which builders in your area cater to this demographic will help you better serve your 55+ clients.

“There are many 55+ communities these days, so learn the differences, as each have varying features,” says Kim Dawson, a broker and immediate past-president of the North Carolina Realtors association. “The 55+ buyer wants a home they can age into: minimal stairs, a main-level master, possibly lawn care.”

Multigenerational Homes as a 55+ Housing Solution

A multigenerational home is built to house more than one generation comfortably. Often, the home has a private suite such as an in-law suite, casita or guest house that is connected to the home, but has a separate entrance for privacy. The private suite can include a dinette and small living room or can simply be a second main suite.

According to the NAR report, older adults make up the majority of homebuyers who purchase a multigenerational home: 11 percent of buyers bought a multigenerational home to care for aging parents, to save money or because they had adult children who were returning to the home.

Ask clients about their family situation to see if a multigenerational home would suit them. Be sure you know which builders in your area offer these specific types of homes.

“Think The Golden Girls! Another option that is gaining traction is the idea of home-sharing, whether it means a senior sharing their current home with a younger person who can help with daily chores or purchasing a home with other seniors and sharing the costs of living — and of aging in place,” says Dorothy Mazeau, a sales representative for Royal LePage RCR Realty, Brokerage in Bolton, Ontario.

“If seniors choose this option while they are still in good health, there is the potential for strong friendships to develop among the group, which can lead naturally to helping each other deal with the exigencies that life throws their way,” says Mazeau.

About the author 

Patricia Garcia

Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist and former content manager for NewHomeSource. She graduated from New Mexico State University in 2003 with a major in Journalism and Mass Communications. Garcia has worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press and several daily newspapers in New Mexico, covering a variety of topics including breaking news, arts and entertainment and home and garden/lifestyle features and was associate editor of the Texas Bar Journal. She has won three awards in the National Association of Real Estate Editors' annual competition.

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