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Rethinking the 55+ Market

Rethinking the 55+ Market

We are excited to have Nikki Buckelew back as our guest blogger for today. Nikki  is considered a leading authority on seniors real estate and housing. – The KCM Crew

Mature Couple at ParkSomeone said to me recently, “Sixty-five is the new forty-five.” We chuckled, but the more I thought about it, the more I found myself in full agreement.

With more and more people working beyond traditional retirement age and the advances in modern medicine, the lines between middle and late adulthood are becoming a bit blurred.

What makes this relevant in the world of real estate?

As our population ages, we will see more and more organizations dedicating their marketing efforts toward the “senior” demographic. You have read previous KCM blogs about the various designations agents can earn for this specific purpose, and undoubtedly you have already seen real estate professionals in your market professing to “specialize”.

Reality check — not all seniors are the same.

Just as with using any label, we run the risk of putting people into a category when they may or may not actually belong there. This is especially true of the senior segment.

Despite the label of “senior,” there are 3 distinct types of moves you may encounter as a real estate professional —  all three involve seniors, but they aren’t based necessarily on age. You see, age is not a good predictor of relocation. Instead, people generally make changes in residence based on life circumstances.

Listed below are the three primary types of moves made by those labeled as seniors:

Move #1: Amenity-based

These individuals and/or couples are seeking a certain type of lifestyle and their home is only one component of a much larger picture. When looking to sell, they are usually transferring their equity from one home to the next and can usually either pay cash or put a significant down payment towards their purchase. Depending upon employment status, they may be moving across the country for more appealing climates or seeking a place near an airport making it easier to commute. Some are moving closer to kids and grandkids, while others are moving to destination locations where the family can enjoy visiting.

Social engagement, including quality family and friend connectedness, are key decision-making elements.

Move #2:  Anticipatory / Planning

As people age, they may begin to experience changes in personal health status or become the caregiver of a spouse requiring additional care. When this occurs, people may find their current home unmanageable or no longer suited for their current situation. Moving means simplifying and making preparations for future care needs and support. With this type of move, seniors are typically looking to either buy or lease a property with minimal maintenance, accessibility features, and in close proximity to quality healthcare. Family members and adult children may be called upon at this stage to assist, and will often have some influence in the relocation process.

Access to formal and informal support, as well as low maintenance and accessibility features, are primary decision-making factors. 

Move #3: Needs-based

While most people intend to live independently until they die, unfortunately, this reality isn’t always possible. As health declines to the point where more support is needed than can be provided for within the person’s home and community, relocation is necessary. This move may involve selling the personal residence and relocating to a senior living community or into the home of a family member. In many cases, needs-based moves involve caregivers and/or family members as additional decision makers. Late-life moves involving frail elderly or those experiencing illnesses or disease processes can be highly emotionally charged and necessitate a level of empathy in addition to real estate competency.

Timing, health status, and caregiver support are keys to decision-making.

As you can see from these various different types of moves, not all seniors share the same housing needs and goals. And while specializing in the 55+ housing market appeals to many, there are actually many sub-niche opportunities within the senior segment worth exploring.

Regardless of whether you choose to make working with mature home buyers and sellers a part of your overall business plan, with at least 1 in 4 home sellers over the age of 65, there is little doubt you will work with older adults in the course of your general real estate practice.  When encountering these opportunities, it will serve you well to consider the three types of moves listed here and evaluate your value proposition accordingly, so that you can be the very best agent possible for your mature clients.

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5 replies
  1. Carin Arrigo
    Carin Arrigo says:

    Nikki, I completely agree! Working with seniors several years now, I’m JUST beginning to recognize my own sub-niche and where my strengths are – that being Move #3 – Needs-based. From my own personal experience coping with a family member with dementia and all that entailed with his living environment, this contributes to my heartfelt empathy for families who are going through similar experiences.

    Very insightful post and much appreciated!

    • Nikki Buckelew
      Nikki Buckelew says:

      You are very welcome! Sounds like we share the same attraction for serving the older of the senior segments.

      In our courses we teach extensively how to serve this older adult segment because when doing so, you not only benefit the homeowner, but also their families and caregivers. This truly differentiates agents in the marketplace (those like you who have a heart for seniors).


    Yes, the graying of America is in the offing!!-After 35 years in the REal Estate Industry,I have become more cognizant of the needs of our Senior Ciizens. Your article further enhances the fact that the SEnior demographics are changing at a faster speed than one would have expected—–only few years ago. Merci Beaucoup Madamoiselle for keeping us abreast!—–I am seriously thinking of transitioning to the “Senior Market.–after all, now, i am becoming a part and parcel of the said group!

  3. debbie@ronanddebbie.net
    [email protected] says:

    I fully agree with this article – I am becoming 65 this year and don’t feel a day over 35! I am an active real estate agent (since 2002) and currently with Keller Williams in Port St Lucie 34986 and am getting my SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) designation. You see, it takes one to know one! Don’t ya think? Debbie


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