Many real estate agents have dreams of that big deal, a huge property with thousands of square footage, half a dozen bedrooms and a different bathroom for every day of the week. However, if you are following the real estate trends, you may have recognized that the fastest growing population is senior citizens. This demographic is not interested in buying large homes. Instead, they are looking to downsize.
A couple or individual who is downsizing is not like every other real estate transaction, and it would be a mistake to treat them as such. Moving from a family home, perhaps one they have lived in for decades, is more than trading big for small. It often means letting go of precious possessions and dealing with the heavy emotions of stepping into a new and sometimes difficult phase of life.
Do you have what it takes?
Downsizing clients do not always fall into one category. You may handle moves where money is tight and others where money is no object. Some may be looking for luxury apartments with many amenities, and others may want to build a bungalow or buy a duplex. Nevertheless, the downsizing market is a niche area that requires certain skills and insights from a real estate agent. If you are interested in working with this growing population of clients, you may find yourself doing the following:
- Empathizing and gently moving the process forward when a client is struggling with the psychological aspects of downsizing
- Handling the sometimes overbearing input of family members who become involved in their loved one’s downsizing
- Weighing practical matters for an older client, such as stairs, access to health care, distance from family and whether the property will be appropriate for the client as years pass
- Guiding clients through the difficult process of decluttering, purging and packing
- Discussing the options available for financing a move and how to balance the sale of the old home with the purchase of the new
You may even consider extending your real estate credentials by becoming a Certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist, which involves training to work with mature clients and their special concerns. Of course, not everyone who is downsizing is a senior citizen. People from all age groups are seeing the benefits in reducing their footprints and simplifying their lives with smaller homes. This opens up a wide range of potential clients. Setting your sights smaller may reap benefits in a big way.
Whether you have only recently obtained your real estate license or you have been on the job for several years, you may be trying to figure out how to be more successful as an agent. In fact, new real estate agents often wonder how long it will take them to become successful in their chosen career. While the market trends will affect your business, much of your success depends on how much time and effort you are willing to put into the job.
There is no magic formula for obtaining success and no script for the perfect words for closing a sale or gaining new clients. In fact, the key to your success may hinge on recognizing the tools you have and using them to the fullest extent.
Building success throughout your career
Earning your professional license is not the end of your preparation for a career in real estate; it is only the beginning. To be successful in your line of work, you must be willing to continue learning, improving and expanding your skills. Starting with basic answers to the most common questions a buyer may have, you can add to your knowledge—and therefore your appeal as an agent— in the following ways:
- Staying current with market trends in areas beyond your zip code
- Knowing local and national industry news
- Identifying hot spots and popular community topics
- Working with a mentor to obtain hands-on experience
- Attending many home inspections to learn what to expect
- Connecting with an audience through social media
- Making contact with potential clients through open houses
- Seeking positive exposure through local news outlets
- Using your vendors, such as contractors, attorneys, inspectors and others, to send leads your way.
- Learning about any new technology that may help you market your business more effectively
- Breaking past negative stereotypes of real estate agents
You are willing to work tirelessly for your client, but the last thing you want is to seem like the stereotypical pushy real estate agent who is just in it for the commission. Allowing your clients to establish the timing for your interactions or to set a specific date when you will be in touch may relieve them of their suspicion. In fact, you may find it helpful to acknowledge those stereotypes to your clients and reassure them you will work at their pace.
Even if you feel desperate to earn a commission, it is better to win the trust of your client by being a source of information about your industry and your community. That way, you may also reap the rewards of positive referrals and repeat customers.
If you have already gotten your real estate license or you are studying for your exam, you may be thinking about the options available to you with your newly acquired credentials. Maybe you feel you will be happy as a real estate agent for many years, or you plan to work toward your broker’s license. Perhaps you are passionate about the world of real estate, but you don’t see yourself showing houses and closing deals.
You may be happy to learn that there are additional ways you can use your real estate education and your love of the industry in case you want to branch out from being an agent. You may have to obtain some additional certifications or even a college degree, but these will open doors to a variety of exciting opportunities for you.
New career, new opportunities
Your new real estate license will allow you to represent both buyers and sellers of properties. You may choose to find a niche, like working with a certain type of property, a specific location or a particular type of client, such as first-time buyers. You may find yourself drawn to commercial real estate over residential, or even specialize in relocations, downsizing or new constructions. On the other hand, working through the process of real estate transactions may pique your interest in these areas:
- Property inspection, where you examine and test properties for sale and offer your opinion of the condition of the building and its components
- Appraiser, which involves assessing the value of a property and may include work for tax agencies and other government offices as well as mortgage lenders
- Consultant, where you work with real estate investors to help them make profitable decisions
- Property manager, which involves overseeing the operations of rental properties for their investment owners
- Foreclosure specialist, where you may work with anyone involved in the foreclosure process, including homeowners, those looking to buy a home in foreclosure, or lenders
You may also even wish to go more deeply into the aspects of the industry’s laws and pursue a career as a real estate lawyer. These professionals deal with the contract issues in a property transaction as well as handling and legal disputes that can arise between the parties in a real estate deal. As you can see, the industry offers many opportunities for those willing to continue their education and make the most of their real estate experience.