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NAR’s Seniors Real Estate Specialist® designation draws attention to an aging demographic

As a real estate agent, you may be focused on wrangling in younger clients—millennials making that first big home purchase, or those looking to jump from their starter home to their forever home. But real estate professionals fixated on younger clients alone are missing out on a major demographic that needs attention: seniors.

“Our country’s population of older residents has grown significantly over the past several decades,” says Chris Read, managing broker/owner of CR REALTOR® and CEO of CR Strategies LLC in Woodridge, Ill. Read notes that according to the United States Administration of Aging, the number of residents who are 65 and older will more than double by 2040 to represent 20 percent of the nation’s population.

“To meet the special housing needs of our maturing population, REALTORS® need special knowledge and expertise to appropriately counsel clients with major lifestyle changes associated with seniors,” says Read.

But what exactly are these senior-specific housing needs? Think tax and legal matters, retirement challenges, exploring assisted living options and understanding how to search for properties that allow independent older clients to age in place.

How can real estate professionals work to meet these needs? The answer is the NAR Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation, which provides the knowledge and resources needed for agents to offer a better level of counseling for senior clients.

“The SRES® designation provides the awareness and knowledge of issues facing seniors, in addition to a multitude of resources for client solutions and assistance,” says Read, who was named the 2016 REALTOR® of the Year by the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.

“Knowledge is power,” notes Read. Understanding the issues 21st century seniors face will place you ahead of your competition, draw in more business, and allow you to better serve your senior clients by customizing your services as needed. “Many housing and service organizations will market contact info for the SRES® member. It’s a symbol for competency, awareness and skills in navigating a senior through the process of relocating.”

To earn the SRES® designation, a licensee must be an active member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Following that, you must become an active member of the SRES® Council, and complete the two-day designation course—available online or in a classroom. “I completed the course online within one week, stopping and starting as my schedule permitted,” says Read.

Read is far from the only real estate professional investing in the senior population. The Senior Services activities of both the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® and the Illinois Association of REALTORS® have been making large moves to support seniors in housing. With a membership of 17,000-plus, the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® is the largest local association in Illinois, and its Senior Service committee is comprised of REALTOR® members maintaining the SRES® designation whose business focuses on servicing the senior demographic, explains Read.

The committee’s goal is to provide education, share resources, create tools, promote advocacy and give support to seniors and their communities. In the past, the organization has sponsored senior expos and seminars on powers of attorney, senior housing options, decluttering, senior fraud protection and preparing for the future.

Through these services, the organization not only supports their senior community members, but directly connects them with SRES® designees who can meet their needs, driving business for the agents, and a higher quality of aging for the community’s seniors.

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Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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