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Practical advice and tips for working with senior homeowners

Realtors often encounter senior-aged clients looking to downsize or transition to a new living arrangement. 

So, whether you’re an agent, mortgage broker, sales rep, administrator, or any other professional in the industry, you know that every age demographic has different behaviours and preferences when it comes to home-buying. Understanding these differences is the key to working effectively with every age category. 


Considerations when working with seniors


The senior age group, typically defined as those over the age of 65, is an increasingly important market for the real estate industry. 

Additionally, Canada’s working population is nearing retirement at an all-time high, with 1 in 5 people in the Canadian workforce being between the ages of 55 and 64. 

Specifically, in terms of the housing market, this represents a massive opportunity for real estate professionals. You dramatically open your potential customer base by specializing in and increasing your skills working with baby boomers. 


Safety concerns


As real estate professionals, we know that senior homeowners may have specific needs and concerns, such as accessibility and safety, when buying, selling, or maintaining a home. 

Your safety concerns at 20 are very different from those later in life. Senior homeowners and buyers are likely more focused on safety and accessibility than the other populations you may work with. 

As they age, they may require certain features in their home to ensure that they can move around easily and safely. 


Financial considerations


Many seniors on a fixed income may experience more difficulties when making mortgage payments, paying property taxes, or covering other home-related expenses. 

Knowing the options available to seniors can help you as you frame your work with this population. For example, things like reverse mortgages and other home-equity-based loans can assist homeowners with accessing the equity they’ve built in their homes. 

There are also options like OAS, CPP, and RRSPs available. Though these may not intersect directly with your work, senior clients may ask for your recommendations and lean on your knowledge. 

How you communicate with each population group is different and should have different considerations, especially when working with seniors. 


Communicate clearly and patiently


It is essential for real estate professionals to communicate clearly and patiently with senior homeowners and buyers because this group may have sensitive needs and may process information differently than younger individuals. 

They may also have hearing or vision impairments that can make it difficult for them to understand if you do not customize your communication modes. 

Additionally, many senior homeowners and buyers may be dealing with health issues, emotional stress, or other challenges affecting their ability to communicate with you. 

It’s important to ensure they fully understand the information you provide and can make informed decisions. Another way to keep communication transparent is by looping in additional family members from the beginning of the process so that everyone is on the same page. 

In addition, ask the senior you are working with if they have any family members they would like to be included in the communication, which can assist even more with clarity in your communication. 

Finally, communicating clearly and patiently with senior homeowners and buyers can help build trust and establish a positive working relationship with them, which will benefit both parties and lead to a much more successful transaction. 


Show respect and empathy


No matter where you are in the real estate process, every individual you work with needs to be treated with respect and empathy. 

Empathy is essential for senior homeowners because many have lived in their homes for years and may have sentimental attachments to them. Therefore, it can be challenging for them to approach the selling process.

The same goes for senior homebuyers who are purchasing their forever homes, which can impact their emotions throughout the process. Remember that this can be excessively stressful, so take time to listen effectively and tailor your communication to suit your clients best.

Working with senior homeowners and buyers can present specific challenges. However, by understanding this clientele’s unique needs and concerns and adjusting processes to suit them, real estate professionals can effectively help them make informed decisions about buying or selling a home.