What's the difference between a senior real estate specialist and a garden-variety real estate agent?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I'm looking for a real estate agent to sell my parents' home. I keep running into references to "senior real estate specialists" and "senior-specialized agents." What does that mean, exactly? How are these different from a garden-variety real estate agent?

Expert Answer

The most important distinction is that senior real estate specialists and senior-specialized agents (the terms are used interchangeably) focus on the niche market of seniors selling their homes. Because of this, they may be better at handling the emotional tumult that often surrounds the sale of an older person's home. A good senior-specialized agent will be tuned in to the fact that selling and moving is an especially disruptive and anxious time for older people. She'll be patient with your parents and will listen to what they're willing, and not willing, to do to the home before the sale. She'll be sensitive to the fact that your parents have likely been in their home for decades, and she'll know that things like inspections, negotiations, staging, and renovating the home may be upsetting or even insulting.

A senior-trained agent may also be involved with the moving process, and she may be able to help your parents find useful social services and businesses near their new home. Such an agent makes a longer-term, more involved commitment. Despite this, senior specialists don't typically charge a higher rate than other realtors -- they've just made the decision to work with a clientele that tends to require more TLC.

Whether you decide to work with a senior-specialized agent or not, be sure to look for someone who will support your parents through the process.