Preparing for the booming seniors’ market.

The baby boom generation forms a demographic bulge that has reshaped society as it passed through. This group is making a huge impact on the real estate market and redefining what it means to be a senior. More than 9.7 million Canadians are now between the ages of 48 and 66, part of a birth rate that peaked between1946 and 1964.
This group can’t be ignored. In sheer numbers, boomers have had a huge impact on society and we’ve watched the changes they’ve made as they progressed through it.
Understanding the needs of boomer and senior clients can help you provide the service they need. Some boomers are still working while others are retirees who zip between home and vacation spots. Some have elderly parents while others have college kids, young children, or all of the above.
Many boomers today comprise the middle layer of the “sandwich” generation, supporting young people and aging parents. This is a heady responsibility for those who will soon be seniors themselves. And unlike previous generations, these clients sometimes make real estate decisions with multiple generations of their family in tow.
For instance, a couple in their sixties that has lived in a big multi-level house for three decades may say they want a quiet, one-level condo. But if the husband spends hours puttering in the garage workshop and the wife gardens all day, they may be bored stiff in a condo. Early on in the process I ask how they plan to replace those activities. A residence with a community garden and lots of clubs and activities may be a better option.
A client-focused approach means REALTORS® should make the time for thorough discussions with older clients, ask follow-up questions, and provide a range of options so people can make informed decisions.
Realtors treat a senior client like they would their own mom or dad. These individuals have worked all their lives and contributed to the economy, and we should help make this transition as smooth as possible for them.
Emotional ties to a house are much stronger with older clients. Selling a home you’ve lived in for 40 years is quite different from other real estate transactions. Some people don’t want to move but their bodies are telling them they must change their lifestyle. They can no longer handle the stairs, shovel snow or do yard work.
The Accredited Seniors Agent (ASA) designation and the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation are two programs that provide lessons and strategies for working with this demographic. Those who have taken the courses report enhanced confidence and expertise in dealing with clients over the age of 55.
Both programs provide an enhanced level of understanding of this market. The lessons address the practical and emotional concerns of senior clients while teaching you how to earn their trust as a professional.
When we work with seniors, we don’t just list their home – we’re dealing with contents and helping figure out their next home. It can also mean working with other professionals and multiple generations of a family, which makes for a longer process.
Many seniors move due to circumstance rather than choice. They’re dealing with health issues, financial troubles, or estate issues after a death. At this stage, you’re not selling them a home – you’re selling a lifestyle, or sometimes a change of lifestyle.
Financial planners, trust and estate tax specialists, hospital critical care teams and retirement community intake teams all have a role to play in meeting seniors’ real estate needs. Many of our senior clients need these resources yesterday and sometimes it takes a village to bring a listing together.
The SRES program was adapted to Canada from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) in the U.S. The Canadian version launched in 2007. It was built from the American model and now boasts full Canadian content. And because NAR® is the world’s largest professional real estate organization, the program has gained popularity in Canada.
Fewer than 10 per cent of retirees live in nursing homes. It’s the choice of last resort. Most people want to age in place and they need real estate professionals who understand what’s involved.
There are many available resources such as grants for physical improvements that enable elderly people to stay in their homes through the addition of features like safety grab bars, nonslip flooring and raised counters. Contact your SRES Realtor for more information.

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About John Lamberton-Broker, SRES- Coldwell Banker First Ottawa Realty

Residential and Commercial Real Estate Sales
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