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We’re often approached by people who’ve been tasked with helping their aging and elderly relatives find a real estate agent to help sell the family home or downsize. As our loved ones age, the need to downsize or move to a home that better suits their needs can trigger all sorts of anxieties and stress. Having the right real estate agent along for the journey can go a long way to ensuring a smooth and comfortable  transition.

Assessing Their Needs

It’s likely that your parents or relative haven’t bought or sold a home in a long time, so start by thoroughly assessing their needs and what’s important to them in a REALTOR. 

  • What are their goals and ideal timing?
  • What do they need a realtor for? Will the realtor be assisting them in finding their next home or just helping them sell their current home?
  • Where will they be moving to? Will they be buying another property, renting or moving to assisted living or nursing home?
  • Do they have any specific language needs? Can you provide translation help if needed? 
  • How involved do they want to be in the process? If they’re planning to be involved with most aspects of the sale, you’ll want to make sure to find a REALTOR who’s a great personality match for them. Alternatively, If you’ll be the person leading the sale, you’ll want to focus on the traits that are important to you. 
  • How do they prefer to be communicated with? In person, by phone, by email or by text? 
  • How tech-savvy are they? Will they want to sign paperwork in ink or will they be comfortable with electronic signatures? 

Answering these questions will help you and your loved one narrow down the list of potential realtors and find the best fit.

Things to Consider When Hiring An Agent

When choosing a real estate agent for your aging relative, there are some unique factors to consider:

  • Experience Working with Seniors – Look for an agent who has experience working with seniors and is knowledgeable about their unique needs and concerns. 
  • Included Services – If you’re like most people who are helping their aging relatives buy or sell a home, the more help you can get, the better. Look for an agent who provides professional cleaning, staging services, referrals to home professionals, seniors advisors, etc. 
  • Communication Style – It’s important to consider your loved one’s preferred communication style and how comfortable they are with phone, email and text messaging communication 
  • Personal Traits – Look for an agent who is patient, kind, and understanding, and who takes the time to explain the process and answer any questions.
  • Do you need two agents? If you relative is selling in one community and buying in another, you’ll likely need to hire two REALTORS. There’s nothing more local than real estate. 
  • Professional Reputation – Like in every profession, there are some questionable characters with real estate licenses. Check with RECO to make sure the agent is professionally licensed and doesn’t have a history of ethics or negligence complaints. Read online reviews. Talk to your friends and family for recommendations. 
  • Verify Their Sales Record – Ask for a list of their past sales – they can print a report for you directly from the MLS. Make sure you understand who the agent was representing in the transaction. 
  • Availability – When assessing agents, consider their availability and flexibility to work around yours and your loved one’s schedules and needs.
  • Marketing Reach – While you might be looking for an old-school approach to service and communication, you’ll want to hire someone who is on top of the latest marketing tools and techniques. While digital and social media marketing reach might not be of importance to your loved one, it’s critical to getting top dollar for their home.  
  • Special Needs – You’ll want to hire an agent who understands the emotional and logistical challenges that seniors may face during the home buying or selling process.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a REALTOR

When interview REALTORS to help your aging relatives, you want to ask more than the standard questions. Make sure to specifically ask:

  1. How many senior clients have you worked with before?
  2. What services and inclusions do you provide for clients? How do you help with home preparation and staging?
  3. Have you taken any courses or advanced classes in helping seniors? Do you have the Senior Real Estate Specialist designation? 
  4. What is your experience advising seniors on how to downsize and declutter?
  5. What strategies do you use to help seniors through the home buying or selling process?
  6. How do you communicate with your clients, and how often can we expect updates?
  7. How do you involve the immediate and/or extended family in the decision-making? 
  8. What partnerships, team or brokerage support do you have that will benefit us? 
  9. Can you provide references from past senior clients who have similar needs or concerns?
  10.  How do you ensure confidentiality and privacy during the home buying or selling process? 
  11. How do you handle unexpected events or issues that may arise during the process?
  12. How do you handle mobility, safety and accessibility features and modifications that may be necessary for seniors?
  13. How do you ensure a smooth and stress-free transition for seniors during the home buying or selling process?
  14. What makes you the best agent to work with for seniors, and why should we choose you?

Choosing the right real estate agent for your aging relatives is an important decision that requires careful consideration and research. Hire the wrong one – and you might all find the process a lot more stressful and expensive than it needs to be. 

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