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Senior Real Estate Specialists trained to work with mature clients

Pennington For seniors who have lived in the same home for many decades, their house may be the biggest investment, along with holding a big sentimental value. They not only have unique real estate needs, but also require a different approach to building a relationship and trust. Mature consumers who are looking for extra assurances that they are working with a credible and knowledgeable Realtor may want to consider finding someone who has the SRES designation.

The SRES designation means a real estate agent has been screened to meet specific professional criteria and has received specialized training focused on the needs of aging adults. The designation, given by the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council, also means the Senior Real Estate Specialist can advise clients on major lifestyle or financial transitions.

“There are a whole myriad of senior concerns — from leaving their homes and pets and treasures that simply won’t fit in the new place, to feelings of loss of control,” said Susan Clark, SRES, a real estate agent with John L. Scott in Port Orchard. “I think it’s my job as a Realtor to be sensitive to these possibilities for my clients, to empower them where possible and to support and guide them in their journey.”

Clark said she spends more time with the senior clients “tending to their mental and emotional well-being” compared to younger clients.

“I have driven them around to visit various senior centers, taken them to their banks and escrow appointments, met or spoken with their family members and kept them informed of my intentions, cleaned out their refrigerators with them, taken calls from them daily answering a myriad of questions, and cried with them as they signed around a contract knowing they were saying goodbye to a life stage, not just a place to live,” she said. “And to earn their trust and respect and confidence, it can take time and getting to know them more personally than you might a younger client.”

Renate Scisney, SRES, with Reid Real Estate in Bremerton, agrees that working with seniors requires special skill and patience, in addition to knowledge. “You have to be prepared to work with seniors and not make a sale,” said Scisney, who has a counseling background and is retired from the military. “We are concerned about them instead of just selling a house, and seniors are unsure about the process — the house is probably their largest investment.”

Don Pennington, with Windermere Real Estate in Silverdale, is known as the “Dean of Kitsap Real Estate.” He was also the first Realtor in Kitsap County to obtain the SRES designation. He said seniors want to take the time and discuss their situation, their needs and benefits from selling, and often times they like to involve family members. As a senior himself, he can make elderly clients feel more comfortable. “When you get to a certain age, you get a fear of strangers,” said Pennington, who has consistently been one of the county’s top producing Realtors for more than three decades. “I can relate to them and gain their trust.”

Pennington said one of the benefits of the designation from a Realtor’s perspective is marketing. The Senior Advantage Real Estate Council lists all SRES agents on its Web site , and in addition he gets referrals based on his several professional designations. “I work mostly on referrals, and the designation helps with that,” he said.

While the SRES training helps agents understand the needs of aging adults, first they have to enjoy working with seniors and have the right personality for it. Clark said having senior clients is very rewarding, and it’s also a way to give back. “It makes me feel good to help them,” she said.

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