5 Steps to Tapping into the Senior Real Estate Niche

Published on June 3, 2011

With one in every eight people in the United States currently 65 years old or older, it is no surprise that REALTORS are finding themselves working with more and more senior clients.

Senior adult downsizingNot everyone gets excited about senior clients like I do.

What is interesting is that I decided to work with the senior demographic first and then realized later all the advantages that came with such a niche.

1. I rarely work weekends nor do I find myself on listing appointments after 4pm.

2. Almost all my clients own their home free and clear... no short sales and rarely so much as a discussion around pricing. Statistics currently show that about 65% of senior homeowners have no mortgage on their property. Compared to the millions who are upside down in their homes right now, this is a nice change of pace.

3. They appreciate our services. They truly see value in what we were doing to help them and it makes us want to go out of our way even more to serve them at the highest level by offering various forms of assistance throughout the transaction.

If you are an agent who is passionate about working with seniors and would like to incorporate your passion into your real estate practice, here are 5 key steps to consider as you move forward.


5  Steps for Tapping into the Senior Market


Number 1: It’s all about becoming a specialist

It’s about being the "GO-TO" REALTOR for all things related to seniors and real estate in your area. It’s about no longer being a generalist... it’s about standing out from the crowd and having skills, knowledge, resources, and results that no one else in your area can compete with. Differentiation is the key...it truly is the number one thing that has to happen.

You have to be ALL IN!

When we first announced to the world that we were specialists in senior real estate by putting it on our signs, our cards, all our print material, our website, and our vehicle wrap, you can be sure that we took a deep breath and prayed we had might the right decision. We questioned whether we would alienate our younger clientele or if we would somehow lose market share by being so narrowly focused. Our sales at the time were hovering around 80 closings per year and after specializing, we gained more and more transactions annually, both senior and non-senior related. 


Number 2: Become the EXPERT - Know your stuff

Unfortunately, too many agents rely on a weekend seminar or an online class for certification to teach them what they need to know about senior real estate. The reality is that there is SO MUCH to know about the senior industry that it takes time, effort, and focus to learn all there is to know and be able to articulate it to a client. A class or designation is just the beginning.

They say that to master something, it takes 10,000 hours of doing it.


Number 3: Add Value. Create a resource network of professionals.

It’s not enough to just say, “I specialize in helping seniors.”

You have to show it. Senior moves, especially in the older demographic, involve a more complex set of variables that require the agent to be highly skilled at managing and juggling people and situations.

Your resource team is invaluable. Having people in my world that I can count on in a pinch and who save the day when crises occur (and they do) many is critical. You can’t assume that all title reps, lenders, movers, inspectors, roofers, and other vendors are skilled or knowledgeable about working with senior adults. Having a title rep that is willing to go to a nursing home or hospital to get closing docs signed on a Saturday afternoon is a must. Home repair contractors who are honest, priced fairly, and who have a great bedside manner are critical as are movers, roofers, and carpet installers.


Step 4: Create high level client service practices

As I am out teaching and coaching agents, I am always surprised at how few agents do a “needs analysis,” deliver a pre-listing package, or follow a specific structure for meeting with clients. So often they are just “winging it” with a yellow pad and pen.

When working with seniors (really with all clients, but especially seniors), there are key motivators related to their move that are critical in helping them make decisions in their favor. It means as an agent listening and ask great questions.

You’ve heard the common statement about what sellers want. They want “to get the most amount of money in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle.” Well, with seniors, it’s not always about “more money” ... in fact, it can often be about “least hassle.”


Step 5: Maintain a High-Touch follow up and lead generation strategy.

Give before you receive

Working with seniors is truly all about building rapport and creating relationships. This includes with your service providers, retirement community reps, organizations, leads (especially leads), and your database overall. Just mailing and emailing isn’t enough.

This niche requires face time.

Some of the best ways to get face time are to sponsor events, teach classes, host seminars and panel discussions, hold focus groups, and doing daily “pop by’s” (made famous by Brian Buffini).


Naturally, under each of these 5 steps there are multiple layers and a bazillion ways of creating a successful senior niche. That is why I decided to help more agents across the country “get their niche on” and build a successful business serving seniors. I love serving seniors and I also love surrounding myself with others who feel the same.

For more information on programs for agents new to the senior niche check out The Seniors Real Estate Institute.



Nikki Buckelew is the Co-Founder and President of NikkiandChris.com Coaching and Training, a coaching and training company specializing in real estate, leadership, and life coaching for Realtors, brokers, and leaders with SoulFire. Buckelew is also the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute, a coaching and training company specializing in senior real estate and housing and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation.



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