Why Senior Living Communities Resist REALTORS

Published on January 24, 2012

In visiting with senior community representatives across the country, they express some common frustrations when it comes to dealing with the REALTOR community. You may not be guilty of any of the infractions listed below, but you may have to overcome the negative impressions left by agents who have come before you.

Here are 5 of the 10 most common challenges 55+ communities have with local real estate agents:

1. Asking for business before building rapport (a relationship).

Marketing and sales representatives at retirement communities report that agents often come in and give their “pitch” expecting them to refer their residents to them. “REALTORS seem to think that we will just give their name or business card out to our residents after just meeting them. They come in once and drop of a handful of cards and then we never see them again. The cards go in the trash.”

2. Overpricing homes.

When seniors are ready to make a move to a community, they often have a window of time where they can move in. There may be a specific unit that they have chosen that can only be held for a certain time or more importantly, they qualify based on health as long as nothing significant changes (stroke, broken hip, other medical diagnosis) before the move in date. If the home is overpriced and sits on the market too long, they may miss the window of opportunity and be forced to choose a less favorable option. “The client most often accepts the advice of their agent and prices the home according to their recommendations.”

3. Not understanding the emotional move.

Seniors make two moves: a physical move AND an emotional move. REALTORS handle the physical move very well, but sometimes they miss the signs that a senior may be challenged emotionally with their transition. The signs show up in a variety of ways from resisting showings to wanting to overprice the home. They may seem needy or particularly moody. These signs are often just ways of “buying time” to think through whether or not the move is something they want or possibly to grieve the perceived loss of their family home. “When shared with the community representative, family members, and addressed directly with the client, most seniors will resolve their concerns and move forward. When left to deal with it on their own, they may experience undo stress, anxiety, depression, and often a change of heart about moving altogether.”

4. Saying the wrong thing.

When an older adult decides to make a move to a senior community, it doesn’t happen overnight. They have often spent a significant period of time considering their move. When safety or health concerns are involved, the family is frequently involved in the decision making and have lovingly encouraged the move as well. What the client needs during the transition is support and affirmation that they are making the right decision. “I had a REALTOR once who said to a client, ‘Why are you moving to that old folks home when you are so young?’ and that was all that was needed for the resident to say, ‘no way. I’m not old and I am not moving to an old folks home.’” The agent meant no harm and was probably attempting a compliment, however, without knowing it and in one comment, totally reversed the work that had been done.

5. Taking without giving.

When agents call on senior communities they often expect to receive referrals from the marketing and sales representatives without having offered anything in return. “REALTORS are always asking us for referrals, but they never seem to refer anyone to us.” Senior communities have the same challenges as everyone in real estate...generating new leads.


Tips for building strong Senior Community relationships:

  1. Practice the law of reciprocity. Give something of value without expectation of something in return.
  2. Understand the senior adult homeowner and their most common challenges.
  3. Communicate with the community frequently and work as a team.
  4. Price homes to sell by learning to communicate pricing effectively to senior homeowners.
  5. Always affirm and support the client for making a tough decision. Empower them to do what they believe is in their best interest.


What are you doing to equip yourself to better serve seniors in 2012?

For more information about training courses for REALTORS who choose to serve the senior client, visit our website. Our next 7 week course begins February 13th and the class size is limited. This live tele-course covers tools and strategies for working with senior communities, senior clients, and growing a successful senior's division of your real estate business.



For nearly two decades Nikki Buckelew has dedicated herself to bringing together her heart for seniors, her education in counseling psychology and gerontology, and her real estate sales expertise to train, educate, and empower senior adults, caregivers, and senior care professionals in effectively navigating the moving process. Using her own real estate business as a laboratory for over 5 years, Nikki created one of the country's first and most successful senior focused real estate models for mature moves. Having managed over 600 senior related real estate transactions and a team of senior move managers and sales professionals, Nikki now coaches and trains real estate agents, senior professionals, caregivers, and seniors themselves on what it takes to navigate a successful late-in-life move. Full bio...

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