Here’s how to plan ahead and incorporate marketing and outreach strategies when targeting the growing ranks of aging American homeowners.
Zillow just released a new report that predicts that over the next 20 years, 27.4 percent of the nation’s owner-occupied homes will come on the market as current owners die or otherwise vacate their homes. Are you prepared to capitalize on this growing trend?
According to Zillow, 33.9 percent of the owner-occupied homes in the U.S. are owned by residents age 60 or older and 55.2 percent by residents aged 50 or over. This could represent upwards of 20 million homes hitting the market through the mid 2030s.
Ignoring the over-50 niche limits you to only 45 percent of the potential listing inventory. The question is how to capitalize on the coming Silver Tsunami not only in 2020, but throughout the next decade. Here’s what to do.
1. Don’t downsize — right size!
When you speak to seniors about selling the big house where they raised their children or moving from their two-story property into a one-story home, avoid using the word “downsizing.” The reason? Downsizing implies giving something up. This is especially true for those who are forced to sell their home due to the death of a spouse, health reasons, or no longer being able to afford their current property.
According to Right-Sizing.com, rightsizing is the opposite of downsizing. It is the concept of working with what you have by making better use of existing space. The promise is that you can live more fully in your home if you right-size.
To help someone who is right-sizing let go of cherished memories of items such as their children’s trophies or the cute projects their kids made in elementary school, have them take photos of them. Rather than having piles of boxes, they can easily enjoy the photos from their computer, phone, or tablet.
If the dining room in the new property doesn’t accommodate their large family table and chairs, have them search for a smaller table and keep the number of chairs that does fit.
2. Pack up the bags, lock and leave!
An increasing number of 55+ communities offer properties that are “lock and leave.” The homeowners assocation takes care of the landscaping for both the overall subdivision and for each house as well. Many seniors, especially those who have family in colder climates, love being able to head back to their former hometown during the spring and summer, and then return to a lock and leave property during the winter in a warmer client.
3. Ouch! No more stairs!
As the seniors age, many of them will develop back, hip, and knee problems that make climbing stairs difficult. This means there will be a greater demand for one-story homes, condominiums with elevators and valet services, or homes where the master bedroom is on the first floor.
Because many seniors are reluctant to sell unless they know where they are moving, having a list of properties that meet these criteria will help you to get their current property listed and motivate them to move forward with a purchase as well.
4. Yikes! My mother-in-law is coming to live with us!
Another major demographic trend is seniors caring for their elderly parents. Since both seniors and their parents normally want as much privacy as possible, a great way to serve this niche is to specialize in housing with a “granny-flat,” “maids quarters,” guesthouse, or homes that have at least one bedroom downstairs.
5. Forget commuting — I telecommute!
Unfortunately, many companies lay off their senior employees and finding a replacement job can be challenging. Even those who work for large companies often end up working from home. Let’s face it — why bother driving to work to sit in a cubicle when you can have a gorgeous home office and work in your shorts or pajamas?
To take advantage of this major trend, become an expert on the best properties to convert to home offices. Line up a team of professionals who can help seniors who work at home transform the extra bedroom into the perfect home office they want and need.
6. Let’s help the kids
One thing that doesn’t change about real estate is parents helping their children buy their first home. Many of the Baby Boomers (and Gen Xers) have already inherited billions of dollars in real estate and other assets their parents accumulated.
Many of them will use at least part of their inheritance to provide down payments for their children’s first home. By marketing to the seniors, you increase the probability of representing their children and even their grandchildren when they purchase as well.
7. What do you mean I have to go to court to sell my folks’ home?
The 50+ crowd is not only having to confront their parent’s mortality, many of them are already losing their spouses and friends who are the same age they are. A substantial majority have yet to set up a will or a trust. As a consequence, they will face serious challenges when it comes to probating their inherited property.
Breaking into the probate niche requires a strong knowledge of probate law, a high level of professionalism, as well as the ability to keep a cool head when disputes arise between family members.
8. I can’t believe I’m old enough to join AARP
If you are over 50, become the “real estate expert” for your local AARP chapter. Even if you’re under 50, this is still a great way to access the over 50 crowd. You may not only get Grandpa and Grandma as your clients, you may get their Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z children and grandchildren as well.
9. Seniors make referrals
Many older people have no grasp of the real estate business and could truly benefit from working with an honest, professional agent, who places their client’s best interest at heart. The seniors tend to form tightly knit communities.
They travel together, they meet for lunch regularly, and most of all, they talk to each other all the time. If you gain a reputation as being their resource for real estate related issues, you’ll have plenty of business until you decide to retire and join them.
If you haven’t added working with seniors as a niche for your business in 2020, it would be a very smart move to do so!
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.