Jim Voegele, ElderAction
As a real estate agent for seniors, a major part of your job is to help shepherd them through the homebuying process. Many seniors have not purchased a home in decades, and some may be confused about the process, including their financing options, how to handle moving, and what to do about their current homes.
Make sure they understand their own reasons for moving.
The reasons why a senior is choosing to leave his or her current home and purchase a new home should play a huge part in how he or she looks for a new home and what the senior should value in a new property. Seniors move for many reasons, but one of the most common is the desire to downsize. As seniors age, disabilities, mobility issues, and a decline in steady income make the prospect of keeping up with their longtime family homes more and more of a burden.
If this is the reason for the move, it makes sense that accessibility and manageability become the primary focus of the house hunt.
Help them understand their financing options.
“Buying a home as an older adult can impact a senior’s financial situation in numerous ways, from money invested, to estate and trust planning, to Medicaid or Medicare considerations. Some seniors have assets available to use for down payments, while others will be looking for assistance in qualifying and purchasing with low or no regular income,” notes one realty service.
You also must consider the situation with the senior’s current home, such as whether he or she plans to sell it outright; rent the property for income; transfer the property via Quitclaim Deed or some other transfer process; etc. This could affect which financing options are available for the new home.
Explaining the possible issues with a traditional mortgage—especially if the senior does not have a steady source of income, a lot of assets, or liquid investment funds—is crucial. If downsizing, there’s a good chance the senior will be able to use the proceeds from the sale of his or her current home to finance the new home—but only if the senior is selling, of course. Explain to the client the benefits and drawbacks of using a reverse mortgage for purchase if a traditional mortgage isn’t a good option.
Offer advice on how to make the move go as smoothly as possible.
If you truly want to help a senior through the homebuying process, you must also discuss things that are ancillary to the actual buying/ selling process. One of the most important things you can do is offer advice concerning the actual move from place to place.
Help the client understand what downsizing is all about in relation to the size and amenities of the new home. As an agent, you know the new home better than anybody. Advise the senior on exactly how much room will be available for his or her possessions in both active and storage space. Offer advice on hiring movers to do the heavy lifting and how the client can avoid falling victim to predatory companies that prey on seniors who are moving (for more on that, check here).
As an agent selling a home to a senior, you have a responsibility to make sure the client makes the best choices when it comes to the actual home bought, how it is financed, and how to make the actual move a stress-free process.