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Niche Markets: Serving Seniors
By Barbara Pronin
Elderhostel got rid of the ‘elder’ in its name and became known as Road Scholar. AARP shortened its moniker, which no longer mentions age or retirement. That may well be because, as Harry Moody, director of academic affairs for AARP has noted, “Everyone wants to live longer, but no one wants to be old.”
Yet, whether you refer to them as seniors, the elderly, older adults, or baby boomers, this growing demographic represents the largest and wealthiest group of home buyers and sellers in the country – and as such, presents a worthy market opportunity for compassionate and qualified agents.
The fact is, ‘senior citizens’ – which seems to be the most acceptable term for adults over 55 – are very different from people who are making moves earlier in their lives. Their options and their needs are different. They are often considering life-changing options, from downsizing from the family home to moving in with family or into a retirement home. Whether they ultimately sell or buy and wherever they move, they will surely be debating how they can gracefully age in place – and often they will take their time investigating the options before deciding what their next move will be.
For those reasons, they want and should have patient, understanding, and knowledgeable real estate agents who can help them make sense of the available options and make the most informed decisions. Fast-moving, aggressive, sales-focused agents simply need not apply.
But well-informed, no-pressure agents who are sensitive to the needs of older clients could gain a well-earned reputation and a sizeable, ready clientele – as senior real estate specialists.
For those who see it as a viable specialty niche, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation. Established in 2007, the designation certifies agents as senior specialists once they complete a two-day classroom or online course and earn at least 80 percent on the exam.
SRES designees are familiar with local senior communities and support services. They are well-versed in what it may take to help senior clients age safely in place, from bathroom safety products to transportation options to home delivered meals or telephone reassurance. As members of the SRES Council, they have access to the organization’s ongoing data and support.
Most important, they gain the opportunity to use their skills as specialized and trusted real estate advisors in ways that expand and diversify their own career growth as they aid a growing senior population.
Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.

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