Whether you’re selling or buying a home, figuring out the next steps can be very difficult. What exactly comes after reaching the decision? For most people, there are two answers: First, you find a realtor. Realtors are professionals who help you navigate the (very) complicated world of a real estate transaction. But second, you may look for a specialist realtor. This is someone who is certified in specializing their work on the real estate market for those aged 50+. You can also work with a financial advisor to make sure your decisions are helping your overall financial profile.
What Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist Realtor?
An SRES Realtor is a designation handed out by the National Association of Realtors. To receive it, you must be an active and licensed realtor. You must also have completed the NAR’s Seniors Real Estate Specialist course and passed its licensing exam.
Now, it’s important to note that the SRES is simply a credential, not a license. A realtor doesn’t need this certification to represent clients over the age of 50. Instead, it means that they have specifically studied the needs and market for this demographic. Ideally, an SRES realtor is better suited to represent older clients because they have more knowledge relevant to older clients.
It’s also important to consider that the National Association of Realtors charges for this credential. Realtors must pay for the course and are responsible for annual membership fees in the SRES Council. Depending on who you work with as a consumer, this might mean higher prices if the realtor chooses to pass those costs along to you.
What Value Do Senior Real Estate Specialist Realtors Bring?
According to the NAR’s website, a Senior Real Estate Specialist learns about the market for clients over the age of 50. This gives them insight into the personal, legal and financial issues particular to this age group. Among other things, SRES Realtors specifically study:
- The housing needs and markets for older clients
- The personal needs of this demographic, including personal and family changes and the emotional concerns attached to potentially selling long-term homes
- The physical needs of aging clients, including how a home can be built for safety and comfort as someone ages
- Reverse mortgages as an option and a risk
- How to integrate retirement plans into real estate decisions
- The risks and issues with securing a mortgage for consumers over the age of 50
- Predatory lending and scams that specifically target older homebuyers and homeowners
- Legal issues such as estate planning and age discrimination
- Housing options popular, and sometimes even specific, among older clients
The idea behind this credential is that older clients have specific circumstances. They may be looking to move into a retirement community, for example, which is a section of the market that most realtors don’t usually work with. Or they may be selling a long-held family home, a transaction that can involve significant personal and emotional issues. Getting a mortgage can be more difficult if you are living on a retirement account rather than an income and your physical needs will change as you age.
A realtor who holds an SRES credential will have specifically studied these issues and may be in a good position to answer relevant questions as you look to sell or buy a home.
Should You Work With an SRES?
For clients over the age of 50, then, does this credential matter? Should you work with a Senior Real Estate Specialist? As usual with financial matters, it depends. The market for older clients really is different. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, your needs have likely changed since your 30s. Although the SRES designation discusses the needs of people aged 50 and older, this is really about working with clients who are in or near retirement.
At that age, new financial issues arise, from reverse mortgages to financing on a retirement portfolio and new personal issues arise, such as downsizing from a family home. This is all far more likely at 68 than 58. This is particularly true since, increasingly, Americans can’t afford a first home until their late 30’s and early 40s. By age 50 that long-held family home may be one you only bought seven years ago.
All of this is to say that someone with an SRES designation really might be well-informed about issues that are important to you. You do want someone who can discuss financing and transaction issues for someone who lives on a retirement account rather than an income. You want someone who can sell the family home with respect or who can scout out a home you can enjoy through your 80s and 90s. This can have enormous value.
But it’s also important to remember that the SRES designation is just that, a designation. This shows that the realtor has specifically studied the housing market for older clients. Other realtors may be experts in this market without having gotten the SRES designation. Realtors that do hold the SRES credential may have forgotten everything they learned.
So, treat the SRES credential as a starting point. For older clients, this can be a good reason to take a meeting with a potential realtor, but once you sit down with someone it’s still important to ask tough questions. Make sure that this realtor really can help you meet your needs.
A Seniors Real Estate Specialist is a designation handed out by the National Association of Realtors. It is given to realtors who have studied the specific needs and issues surrounding clients over the age of 50. It could be a great way to find a partner in your search that understands your unique needs and knows where you might fit into the market or community the best.
Real Estate Tips
- A financial advisor can help you build a comprehensive retirement plan. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- You’ve decided to sell your house, congratulations! But, now what? What are the first steps you need to take if you’ve decided to sell your home?
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