All real estate is not created equal, and people’s housing needs change drastically in the course of their lives. That’s especially relevant for retirees, whose lifestyles and needs for amenities are likely very different from when they were younger and raising families.
In fact, those needs are distinct enough that some Realtors have earned a designation as “Seniors Real Estate Specialist.” That SRES designation is important, first, because Americans are living longer and seniors are becoming an increasing proportion of the housing market. Also, our area is a very popular retirement destination, so these national trends are especially visible here.
Typically, seniors who are downsizing or buying a retirement house will look for such amenities as:
- Smaller yards with less ambitious landscaping, which require less work to maintain.
- Single-story houses, to minimize stair climbing and simplify exterior maintenance.
- Often a smaller floor plan than houses that can accommodate many children.
- Condominium and similar ownership arrangements by which exterior maintenance is done by others.
- Security and communication features, such as intercoms.
- Wide doors to ensure maximum mobility and accessibility.
- Convenience to amenities. These include not just shopping, but also community centers, recreation opportunities such as golf, tennis or swimming, and entertainment including theater and concerts. That’s important because retirees have a strong interest in and time for leisure and cultural pursuits.
Older homeowners also often have very specific financial concerns. These are quite different from those they faced when building careers and raising families.
Realtors with the SRES designation are qualified to address the needs of home buyers and sellers age 55 and above. They understand the financial and emotional challenges senior clients face when selling a long-held family home. SRES designees help their clients explore housing options to ensure that their next home best serves both their current and future needs.
These are some of the important things an SRES expert understands:
- “Universal Design” or “Barrier Free Living” is about addressing the abilities of all groups and ages, making homes more livable for everyone. Specific features may include no-slip floors and tubs, lever door handles to help people with arthritis or who are juggling an arm-full of groceries, and no-step entries. Good design helps people to “age in place” comfortably.
- Reverse mortgages let owners convert home equity to dollars. Some who have held on to a home for many years find themselves with substantial equity, yet may feel house-rich and cash-poor. Especially for those over the age of 62, balancing the costs of home maintenance, medical expenses, hobbies and vacations can be challenging. A reverse mortgage can produce a much-needed income source.
- Managing capital gains and the tax implications of owning real estate.
- The uses of pensions, 401(k) accounts and IRAs in real estate transactions.
- How Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security affect real estate decisions for senior citizens.
Anyone considering buying or selling, and for whom any of these issues are relevant, should consider choosing a Realtor with an SRES Designation. This indicates that an agent has completed a very specific training and qualification process.
Michelle Clark is a broker with Intracoastal Realty, based at the Wrightsville Beach office. She is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist, ALHS, Seniors Real Estate Specialist, and also a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource. Whether you are buying, selling, or investing, know that Michelle and her team will go the extra mile for you. To learn more about Michelle and Intracoastal, go to www.intracoastalrealty.com. You may contact Michelle at [email protected] or 910-367-9767. Like Michelle’s team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleClarkTeam.