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4 ways to ease seniors’ housing transition

Working with seniors who are downsizing requires empathy and clear communication. If you’re a real estate professional who has a special interest in serving seniors, you get that. When working with seniors, it’s vital that you support your customers through the downsizing process. It’s what differentiates you from those who focus mainly on the sale.

The thing is many of the customers you’re trying to attract may not fully understand that. They may think that real estate agents are all the same. They may hold off on finding an agent because they assume an agent’s only role is to sell their current home — and find a new one.

So, how do you overcome this barrier? Here are four ways to ease the transitions seniors make from the home they raised their children in to an assisted living or smaller home.

Take an educational approach

Part of the solution is to make sure your marketing material raises their awareness. Until you do that, they’ll have a difficult time understanding why they should turn to you for help.

One approach is to offer helpful advice on downsizing. When picking topics, think about questions your senior downsizing customers ask you or issues that typically trip people up, such as what do they do with all the family heirlooms they’ve collected over the years.

Talk about the problem from their perspective

Once you’ve picked a topic, start by talking about the problem as your target audience likely sees it now, not how you intend to solve it for them. Avoid touting your credentials or services at this point.

Don’t be afraid to tap into the emotions they’re likely feeling. It will show you understand what they’re going through. For instance, if your topic is thinning out your belongings, your opening might sound something like this:

The thing you may dread the most about downsizing is the prospect of thinning out your belongings, especially if you’ve been living in your current home a long time. Sorting through room after room of stuff. Trying to decide what to do with the long list of things you can’t take with you.

It’s a huge task that feels like it could go on forever.

Then, offer them a solution or easy way to accomplish the task.

Gently shift their thinking

If you want to make them aware that specialist real estate agents like you exist, you could continue on like this:

It’s a huge task that feels like it could go on forever. Which is why you may have hesitated lining up a real estate agent. No point listing your home for sale until you’re ready.

But here’s something you may not know. There are real estate agents who specialize in downsizing. They don’t just list your home for sale. They’ll help you get it ready. The sooner you get them involved; the better.

Some can tap into downsizing experts in their network so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own, including deciding what to do with your belongings.

Notice how this passage reflects their current assumptions about realtors and then gently sets them straight?

You’re making your audience aware there are agents like you who can make downsizing easier. You’re still educating – not promoting yourself just yet.

End with a call to action

You could wrap up by asking people to give you a call, but you likely won’t get much of a response, not unless they already know you. That’s because most people worry that a phone conversation could easily turn into a sales pitch. Instead, you could offer another significant piece of free information in exchange for their contact information.

Creating educational material that’s specific to downsizing is more likely to get you business from seniors than simply relying on the same marketing material you use with everyone else.

Paul Cavanagh specializes in real estate marketing for seniors.