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NAR’s SRES® Designation prepares real estate professionals for the future of real estate

Earlier this year, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) focused its attention on updating its in-classroom Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) Designation course and called on Jupiter, Fla.-based REALTOR® Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), for assistance.

In fact, it was Berger who reached out to NAR and advised the association that there was no LGBT content in the SRES® course and offered his help to provide such content.

“They immediately liked the idea and said their course was due for a refresh, and we began working together within a matter of months,” says Berger. “The U.S. population is aging, and it’s important to raise awareness to concerns of the LGBT community.”

Berger pulled in personal contacts and resources from SAGE (Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders) and AARP, and was instrumental in helping NAR revive the course, especially as it related to information and guidance regarding LGBT seniors, sans QIA+. “Q typically means ‘queer’ or ‘questioning,’ and our goal is to keep it simple, therefore, we say LGBT,” explains Berger.

“LGBT seniors grew up in an era that witnessed the LGBT rights movement, an era when LGBTs became more visible, many married, and more and more are out as their true selves at work,” says Berger. “LGBT seniors are less likely to have children than their younger peers, resulting in higher rates of isolation than non-LGBTs. And there’s also concern for adequate family and social support.”

According to NAGLREP’s 2018-19 LGBT Real Estate Report, 38 percent of REALTOR® member clients are ages 45 and over with 13 percent 55 or older.

“Our goal as real estate professionals is to serve our clients the best we can, and we continue to provide education to members and REALTORS® at large to teach the needs of the growing LGBT senior community,” says Berger. “In 2018, we partnered with AARP, and there’s much insight to be learned from their recent research, ‘Maintaining Dignity, Understanding and Responding to the Challenges Facing Older LGBT Americans.’ Concerns of isolation, lack of family support and discrimination are key findings affecting LGBT seniors.”

The revised SRES® course now has LGBT cultural competency as a key point, with the course material explaining the cultural nuances of the LGBT community, such as best practices in working with LGBT buyers and sellers.

“For example, the terms ‘sexual preference’ or ‘alternative lifestyle’ are often used to describe the LGBT community. These terms should be avoided, as they both imply that sexual orientation or gender identity are a choice or can be changed,” says Berger. “Also of note is the fact that in a recent NAGLREP survey, 78 percent of respondents said that being LGBT-friendly is more important than a real estate professional’s years of experience.”

NAR recently recognized two SRES® designees for its 2018 Outstanding Service Award (OSA), which honored those who showed exemplary performance and leadership in their local senior markets.

One of those honored was Peter Crouch, a broker with McEnearney Associates in Alexandria, Va., who began specializing in working with seniors after helping his parents with a real estate transaction.

“I realized that there were a lot of people who were in need of a little more than a traditional real estate person offers in terms of helping them digest what’s going on and what options there are for housing, decluttering, donating, etc.,” he says. “What that led me to do was volunteer for a couple of our local senior villages.”

Over the last five years, Crouch has helped oversee some construction work and made sure seniors weren’t being taken advantage of. He’s also helped people age in place. And while that might seem odd for someone who makes a living selling homes, he says it builds up trust, which may eventually add to business down the line.

“If I can offer some value-added stuff, as well as a trusted person in a time when it’s stressful for many, it gives real estate a much higher purpose in my mind, which is why I do it,” says Crouch. “Having the SRES® Designation adds credence to me and all of NAR.”

Lisa Stover, managing broker/owner of Presto Real Estate Services in Marietta, Ga., was the other 2018 OSA winner.

“I’ve been in real estate for 14 years and in 2011, I moved my mom and realized that this is a big deal,” says Stover. “There are so many moving pieces when working with seniors, starting with someone who doesn’t want to leave their home after so many years, and it dawned on me that I couldn’t be the only one who needs help with this.”

That’s why Stover launched into working with seniors, and the SRES® Designation was a big part of that.

“The key to working with seniors is patience,” she says. “It just takes time. They don’t like change and they can’t make decisions quickly. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, like a health issue or some cognitive decline that forces us to involve other people. You want to make sure there’s a total awareness of what’s going on.”

While Stover notes that there’s still much to learn about the senior demographic, she recommends that others who obtain the SRES® Designation better embrace the population.

“We need more agents to get involved and champion that senior client because it’s bigger than just the money we can make or the homes we can sell; this is a population of people who need so much help and understanding,” she says. “The designation shows the end-user that we do take an interest in their age group and their needs.”

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Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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