Shlomo Arel

Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

A Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) is a realtor who is uniquely qualified to assist seniors in housing sales and purchases.

The SRES® designation is awarded only to REALTORS® who have additional education on how to help seniors and their families with laterin-life real estate transactions. They also draw upon the expertise of a network of senior specialists, such as estate planners, CPAs, and elder law attorneys, and are familiar with local community resources and services. Their mission is to help seniors and their families navigate the maze of financial, legal and emotional issues that accompany the sale of the home.

Selling a senior’s home is different

Many homeowners have previously bought and sold homes. However, selling a senior’s home can be much more complicated, due to the number of unique issues and decisions—and sometimes the number of people involved. Though seniors usually make the decision to sell, it is not uncommon for adult children to help them sort through these questions:

  • Is moving the best alternative? If so, where? Have other options been explored?
  • Are close family members on board with a decision to sell?
  •  What is the best way to downsize a lifetime’s worth of possessions and family heirlooms?
  • What are the tax-related implications of a sale?
  • What effects might a sale have on future income?

The financial, logistical and emotional issues involved in a move can be stressful for a family to navigate. Senior parents and their adult children may feel they are in unfamiliar waters as they deal with these questions.

A real estate professional who has experience in senior’s issues, and who can put you in contact with other similarly-trained professional advisors, can be an invaluable resource at this time. You can count on a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) to help guide you through the process and the special considerations, making the transaction less stressful and more successful.

What is SRES?

What qualities make an SRES® different?

  •  Has knowledge, experience and compassion in dealing with senior issues.
  • Can suggest housing alternatives, including ones that may allow an aging parent to remain in the home instead of selling it.
  • Takes a no-pressure approach to the transaction and has a strong service orientation.
  • Will take the time needed to make a client feel comfortable with the complex selling process.
  • Understands the emotional demands a sale can make on a senior, and tries to minimize them.
  • Tailors the marketing of a home to the needs of an older client.
  • Can interact easily with all generations, including seniors, adult children and caretakers.
  • Is knowledgeable about local senior housing options and elder support services.
  • Has a wide network of other senior-focused professionals who can assist in tax counseling, financial and estate planning, and other aspects of the sale and move

The SRES® professional network

Selling a senior’s most valued and valuable asset, their home, and the subsequent move, often requires unique expertise on a number of different fronts. One compelling reason to choose an SRES® is that you’ll gain access to their network of related service professionals. For seniors, that includes specialists across a wide array of financial, legal, property and personal services, from estate planning, to downsizing. Sometimes an older parent has a trusted attorney and accountant. If they don’t, an SRES® can usually refer them and their adult children to elder law attorneys, estate planners, financial planners, and tax advisors with experience in elder issues. An SRES® maintains a professional network that includes individuals who can help with various steps of the sale and move, offering assistance on these and other matters:

  • The decision to sell: reverse mortgage counselors that can look at ways to use the home’s equity to allow a senior to remain in their home, if preferred
  • Prior to listing: tax specialists and financial planners to examine ways to protect assets
  • Preparing the home for showing: handymen, landscapers and clutter reduction specialists
  • Legal considerations: real estate attorneys to help with estate planning or closing
  • Moving: downsizing experts, senior moving specialists, estate sale planners, and storage facilities.

An SRES® also has ties throughout the local senior community. Many agents actively participate in a variety of senior and community service organizations. They can provide referrals to resources such as Meals on Wheels, public benefit offices, transitional services coaches, grief counselors, and other services, as needed.

Issues to consider before starting the process

It’s a good idea to have a family discussion about the decision to sell, prior to signing commitments. Adult children often have strong emotional stakes in the sale. Some family members may not want to say goodbye to the home. A family talk can help prevent later misunderstandings and avoid delays in the process. If the move involves significant downsizing, this may also be a time to bring up property and possessions issues.

Selling a home can trigger significant taxation. Capital gains taxes may apply in the event the sales proceeds aren’t used to buy another home. Before listing a home, it’s a good idea to consult a tax specialist or professional financial advisor to determine how a sale will affect your finances. If you don’t have an advisor, your SRES® can provide you with a list of referrals to choose from.

In the event an aging parent is ill or incapacitated, another family member will need authority to make legally-binding decisions with regard to the home. If this is the case, a durable power of attorney document must be in place prior to the incapacity, naming an agent who will act on behalf of the senior.

It’s best to have one family member take the lead in communicating with the SRES® and other professionals. Multiple contacts can create confusion and delays

What to expect from your SRES®

 Their decision to become an SRES® is rooted in a desire to help others. It means that your REALTOR® has respect for older individuals; has the ability to listen deeply and ask the right questions; knows how to communicate the old-fashioned way, with a handshake and a visit. Be prepared to sit and chat awhile. They’ll want to take time to get to know you and your family’s situation, as you’ll want to learn more about them.

It’s hard to deal with leaving a home after spending many years in it. Perhaps the parent would actually prefer to go on living there. Your agent wants to understand the challenges you’ll face in this major decision. By doing so, they can present all available options, so that the outcome is one that will suit the family’s needs.

An SRES® is there to help by tailoring meetings to a senior’s needs. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you’d like until you feel comfortable with the steps to the sales process and other potentially-complicated details. An SRES® may suggest taking breaks so you can absorb the information, and may want to break up the prelisting-process over several visits to your home.

It’s best to have one family member take the lead in communicating with the SRES® and other professionals. Multiple contacts can create confusion and delays

Interested in Selling your Home?