Navigating the world of real estate as a senior can be daunting. With terms like "downsizing" and "reverse mortgages" frequently thrown around, it's essential to have a trusted guide by your side.
For many senior homeowners, that trusted guide is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), also commonly known as an Accredited Senior Agent. But is a realtor with the SRES designation the right choice for you? Let's dive in.
What is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)?
A Seniors Real Estate Specialist is a realtor who has completed a 2 day training course to understand the unique needs and challenges faced by homeowners over the age of 50.
The designation was created by the National Association of Realtors and realtors can take the course online or in class from various providers, such as the Real Estate Institute of Canada. After the 2 day course, the realtors must write a written exam and score over 80% in order to qualify as a real estate agent with the SRES designation.
What Does a Senior Real Estate Specialist Learn?
Over 12 hours, real estate agents learn about the following topics:
Understanding the 50+ Market:
Recognizing trends and characteristics unique to this senior demographic.
Housing Options for Seniors:
Grasping the range of housing choices available, from downsizing and retirement communities to aging in place.
Developing outreach methods and counseling techniques tailored for the 50+ buyer and seller.
Financial Options for Seniors:
An introduction to reverse mortgages, pensions, RRSP, and RRIF accounts. Recognizing potential financial scams targeting seniors.
Home Modifications for Seniors:
Learning how homes can be modified for safety, comfort, and aging in place.
Assisting clients in integrating real property dispositions into their estate plans.
Pros of Working with an Seniors Realtor
Tailored Expertise for Seniors
A real estate agent with the SRES title understands the intricacies of "seniors real estate". They're sensitive to the emotional and logistical challenges seniors face, whether considering downsizing or transitioning to a different living arrangement, such as a retirement home.
The world of real estate financing can be complicated, especially when considering the implications of selling a long-time family home. An accredited senior agent has the knowledge to identify issues for seniors and help them work through the maze of senior-specific financial planning issues.
Emotional and Psychological Support
Selling a family home isn't just a financial decision; it's an emotional one. An agent trained as an SRES can support seniors through this journey, ensuring they feel understood and respected every step of the way.
Estate Planning Knowledge
Estate planning is a crucial aspect of seniors' real estate. An accredited senior agent can connect seniors with legal experts specializing in estate planning, ensuring a smooth transition for families.
Network of Related Professionals
From painters and handymen to financial planners, an accredited senior agent trained as an SRES has a network of professionals ready to assist in various stages of the real estate process. An accredited senior agent can also help homeowners get the home ready for selling by decluttering the home or by donating or disposing of unwanted items.
Cons of Working with an Seniors Realtor
Potentially Higher Costs
Specialized services can sometimes come at a premium. Some SRES realtors might charge more for their expertise. Be sure to clearly ask how the agent will be paid for their services and make sure to compare their charges with other realtors in the area.
Overemphasis on Downsizing
It’s safe to assume that a realtor will lean towards selling your home. However, downsizing is not always the best option for everyone. Aging in place can be a downsizing alternative and is becoming very popular with elderly homeowners.
By aging in place, seniors can stay in their cherished homes and familiar surroundings. Aging in place might also be a way to save money since downsizing can be very expensive for seniors and their families.
Learn more: Pros & Cons of Downsizing
How to Find a Seniors Realtor
If you're convinced that an SRES might be the right fit for your real estate needs, you're probably wondering how to find one. Here are some ways to find an accredited senior realtor with the SRES designation in your area:
Online SRES Directory:
The National Association of Realtors® provides an online directory where you can search for qualified real estate agents by location. A quick note: you do not have to provide your personal information to see the results even though the form requests your personal contact information!
Referrals from Friends and Family:
Word of mouth remains one of the most reliable ways to find an agent who specializes in working with seniors. Ask around; perhaps someone in your circle has had a positive experience with an SRES and can provide a recommendation.
Keep an eye on local online platforms and newspaper advertisements. Many SRES realtors actively promote their services in community publications, catering specifically to the senior demographic.
Remember, while checking the realtor’s certifications and recommendations is important, it's just as important to find a realtor with whom you feel comfortable and trust. Take the time to meet with potential realtors, ask questions, and ensure they line up with your specific needs and goals.
While a Seniors Real Estate Specialist offers valuable expertise for seniors navigating the real estate market, it's essential to consider all options before making the decision to sell your home.
At RetireBetter, we believe in the benefits of reverse mortgages and aging in place. Before making any decisions, weigh the pros and cons of downsizing, and always consult with legal and financial experts in the field.
- What are alternatives to seniors selling their home and downsizing?
Seniors can get loans if they don’t want to sell their home. The more popular loan options include home equity lines of credit, home equity loans, reverse mortgages.
Learn more: Mortgage Options for Seniors
- How much does it cost to use an accredited seniors agent?
Accredited seniors agents will typically charge 1%-5% of the selling price as a commission for their services. Additional expenses for de-cluttering, repairs, painting, etc. can sometimes be included in the agents’ commission but are usually extra costs paid by the owner.
- Do real estate agents have to take courses to keep the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation?
In order to maintain their Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation, accredited seniors agents need to pay a fee annually. There are no other course requirements to maintain the SRES designation.