Working within a senior-focused real estate landscape can be both rewarding and profitable. It can also be stressful for seniors and their families. Clients can become emotional as they transition into the next stage of their life, even when the change is a money-saver and a move in a more positive direction.

  • To deal with attachment and hesitation issues on your client's behalf, I feel it is important that one remain in good communication with all involved.
  • Seek out the family member with the best relationship with your client, and make him or her a part of the process.
  • If the client can afford it, I will bring in a coordinator/estate sale expert to assign value to certain belongings, give unbiased feedback on what isn't worth keeping and to help clear out a family home before or after a sale depending on specific circumstances.

Working within a senior-focused real estate landscape can be both rewarding and profitable. It can also be stressful for seniors and their families. Clients can become emotional as they transition into the next stage of their life, even when the change is a money-saver and a move in a more positive direction.

Family members often start to have internal conflicts, which can pour over into broker-client or agent-client meetings.  I have learned, over time, that these uncomfortable situations for brokers and agents are almost always avoidable.

So, how do you help your client downsize, turn a profit and generate a referral?  Well, there are some basic practices that I have embedded into my day-to-day business that I will share.

When helping seniors downsize, consider these tips:

1. Understand attachment issues have nothing to do with wanting to sell the home

Attachment issues are usually at the core of any hesitation when it comes to downsizing a home. Years of living in a home not only creates tons of equity for a senior, but it also naturally starts to bring up the issue of a life in transition. Refrain from taking any hesitation personally or trying to rush the process for the client.

2. Know that most attachment issues can be alleviated with great communication      

To deal with attachment and hesitation issues on your client’s (or their family’s) behalf, I feel it is important that one remain in good communication with all involved.

kazoka / Shutterstock.com

kazoka / Shutterstock.com

3. Seek out the family member with the best relationship with your client, and make him or her a part of the process

Senior downsizing deals are a different dynamic when it comes to selling and buying. Most agents and brokers want a clean and concise deal without a lot of back-and-forth.

Inviting a family member, even the adult children of your client, will help keep all transactions transparent, and it helps family members adjust to the thought of the family home being sold.

4. Create a plan of action

By creating a plan and timeline, you will help the client to see progress when it comes to their downsizing deal. The plan also eliminates a lot of needless phone calls, emails and general worrying.

5. Note the positive

For us agents and brokers, a deal is a deal. For seniors, downsizing can be an exciting and scary time. I like to note possibilities that come with change every time I meet with my client.

For example, many new condo developers are catering to a senior demographic by offering amenities such as walk-in bathtubs versus upgraded flooring. I always try to mention something positive about the road ahead during every step of a downsizing deal.

6. Offer an estate sale expert

If the client can afford it, I will bring in a coordinator/estate sale expert to assign value to certain belongings, give unbiased feedback on what isn’t worth keeping and to help clear out a family home before or after a sale depending on specific circumstances.

Many seniors do not know this service is even available to them. They often hesitate about moving because they become overwhelmed with the question of what happens to all their stuff. This service helps with attachment issues and to move deals along.

7. Remember that referrals come from kindness

You are not owed anything past your commission. Being kind and patient is the best way to help a downsizing sale go smoothly and also to generate referrals.

It seems simple, but it today’s stressful and busy world — it’s easy to become jaded, which can lead to unintentionally treating clients like file numbers.

These are some helpful maneuvers that I’ve learned through my experience. I hope they help you too.

Sam Benson, SRES, is a real estate broker in the greater Walnut Creek, California, area. You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Email Sam Benson.

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