Working with Seniors
The number of Canadian seniors (defined as people over the age of 65) is expected to increase by 68% by the year 2037! This equates to approximately 10.2 million people. Furthermore, in Alberta the number of seniors aged 75 and older is estimated to grow by 2.8 times by then (4th most aggressive growth rate of all the provinces and territories with Nunavut having the highest at 5.7 times)*. That’s a lot of potential real estate customers wanting high quality service.
As my real estate career has evolved over the past 29 years, so has the client base that I typically deal with. I have found that there are several keys factors when helping seniors buy and sell their homes effectively. Please keep in mind that these are based on my experiences and observations and are in no particular order.
Plan on spending a little more time with the client. Face to face meeting and communication is typically better than texting and emailing when working with seniors, and although face to face takes a lot more time it is a lot more effective. In addition to working through the potential emotional attachment to a property that comes with decades of memories , it may have been quite a while since the last time they bought or sold a home. In fact quite often I deal with sellers that have been in their home for 20, 30 or 40 + years. So by taking extra care in explaining what is happening throughout every step of the way, you will lower anxiety and increase positivity. Not to mention that the contents of your message will have a higher retention rate and level of understanding via an in-person conversation.
At the same time do not assume that every senior is not tech savvy. In fact, many senior clients are very comfortable and well versed with today’s online and digital platforms as a means for staying connected with friends and family who may be spread out over big distances. It’s a matter of recognizing and appreciating what the client’s comfort zone and preferences are when it comes to technology. But as mentioned above, the “big stuff” is usually handled best in person and face to face.
Present a clear and accurate real estate strategy. Pleasantries are fine of course, but at this point in their lives your senior clients don’t have time to mess around. More importantly they want to deal with someone who gives them “the straight goods”. You are being hired to help them liquidate of one of the biggest assets that they own, possibly acquiring another one, and guiding them through a complex process. Senior clients are very aware of their financial situation, and many are very financially astute. Therefore making sure that the realities of the market are understood and openly discussed is vital to successfully accomplishing the client’s real estate endeavor.
Another great point is to be prepared to have suggestions ready in terms of qualified service providers the clients may need when they are making a move. The list of course should include the usual possible lawyers, lenders, and home inspectors but another important contact could be a professional home downsizing/moving company. Whether or not a senior client has friends and family to help them pack and shed years of items, the thought of deciding what needs to stay or go can be overwhelming. Moving from a sizeable house to a 2 bedroom apartment for example is going to come with some growing/downsizing pains so being able to provide an option to assist the client in this stop will be invaluable.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping the client informed with what’s going on during the real estate transaction. This, of course, is true for all clients but is especially vital when working with the senior clientele. From the simple things like when the for sale sign is going up, what the process of showings will be, and how electronic lockboxes work; to the more important items such explaining the terms and terminology of the offer to purchase contract that they are considering, when deposits are received, or what the role of the lawyer will be when it comes time to close the deal…explaining the tasks and timelines from start to finish will ensure a high level of confidence for your senior client.
Although this is not the “be all and end all” senior’s guide to real estate service, the highlights that I’ve talked about will go a long ways to equip you to successfully help senior clients buy and sell their homes. Bringing a level of patience and empathy to the table is a must, as this may very well be the last time your client makes a move. But make no bones about it, you’ve been called in to get a job done. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either. Remember, you’ll be dealing with someone with decades of life experiences and anecdotes!
Keith Pushor has been a licensed Realtor since 1994 servicing the Lethbridge and area market. He publishes a semi-regular BLOG about adventures in his real estate practice, cycling, and our outdoor environments in general. The information presented in this BLOG, while being reliable, is ultimately only the perspectives and opinions of Keith Pushor, may or may have been assisted by ChatGPT Technology, and do not necessarily reflect those of LDAR or Royal LePage South Country.
*Statistics taken from the Canadian Institute for Health Information