As we age, our needs change, and seniors are no different. However, in terms of real estate business, beyond changing housing requirements, a senior has one additional attribute that you may not be thinking of. Not only are their needs changing, but the responsibility for that change may be handed down to your database. Because most of the clients in your database will have a senior parent (or two), in-laws, aunts or uncles, you have a potential wellspring of business sitting in an Excel or Word file on your computer (hopefully in a CRM program).
The potential within your existing client base to cater to the specific needs of aging Canadians is immense, and tapping into it can be both rewarding and lucrative.
Canada’s senior population is growing
Canada’s demographic landscape is evolving. The aging baby boomer generation represents a significant segment of the population. By 2030, the share of Canadians over 65 is expected to nearly double, according to Deloitte Canada.
As these individuals transition into the aging stages of their lives, their real estate needs change. Those needs are very different from those of first-time buyers or families moving up the real estate ladder.
Many seniors contemplate downsizing to a more manageable space, relocating closer to family, or transitioning to assisted living or retirement communities. These are not just mere property transactions; they represent pivotal life changes which require a realtor’s sensitivity, understanding, and specialized expertise.
Your existing database: A potential gold mine
Think of all the clients you’ve assisted over the years. Many of them, whether in their 30s, 40s, or 50s, have aging parents who may soon be considering a downsizing transition. Furthermore, these past clients themselves might be eyeing their own future needs. Once the kids leave the house, couples begin to consider the options.
Here’s where the magic happens. Your past clients already trust you. They’ve built a relationship with you, and they know the quality of your work. If you can extend your services, knowledge, and expertise to help them navigate the unique challenges and opportunities associated with seniors real estate, you’re unlocking a massive opportunity.
Connecting with past clients: The approach
Approaching past clients isn’t about sending out a mass email, cold-calling or taking a billboard that says, “Thinking about Buying or Selling? Call Paul.” It’s about genuine connection, empathy, understanding and accessing supportive services and programs.
Here’s a strategy to unlock your database’s potential:
- Segment your database: Begin by categorizing your past clients based on age and potential life changes they might be going through. For instance, clients who purchased family homes 10 to 15 years ago might have aging parents or may be thinking about downsizing themselves. A client who was 40 years old 10 to 15 years ago is a prime potential source of business — both for themselves and their parents.
- Educate and inform: Get educated — learn all you can about not only seniors in general but housing options within your area. Host informational sessions or webinars on the intricacies of moving or relocating as a senior. Do a deep dive into topics like reverse mortgages, the benefits of downsizing, and the various living options available for seniors. By offering value, you position yourself as a trusted expert.
- Personalize your outreach: When you reach out, be personal. Ask about their family and how they’re doing, and express genuine interest in their well-being. Transition the conversation by mentioning the services you now offer for seniors and how it might be beneficial for them or their loved ones.
- Develop partnerships: Connect with local retirement communities, senior service providers, and eldercare specialists. Such alliances can provide you with insights, and they can also be an excellent referral source.
- Continuous learning: Remember it isn’t just about selling properties. It involves understanding the emotional, financial and logistical challenges seniors and their adult children face. Consider undergoing specialized training or certifications to serve this demographic better.
- Consider relatable experiences: Working face to face is a very powerful tool, and being able to share your experience or those of your past clients also offers a very powerful tool to build on empathy, empowerment and success of transitions.
Working with seniors is not cut and dry, nor is it typically considered a quick deal. Even an estate sale could be thought of as simple — after all, the owner is gone, and all you are doing is selling their home, but it could potentially be a very drawn-out, complicated process, so it is not for everyone. This is part of what makes this a niche.
Most realtors will choose to pass on the business of senior clients if they perceive them as out of their comfort zone or see it as a drawn-out process. However, those who choose to include working with seniors as part of or as exclusive to their business are positioning themselves to receive ongoing business derived from their existing database.