Older adult couple standing outside a home

Older adults need to make crucial decisions for their retirement years, such as if and when they want to move out of their homes. From downsizing to moving closer to family to finding a retirement oasis, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist can help make the best decision. Discover what a Seniors Real Estate Specialist does and how older adults can benefit from working with one.

What is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?

A Seniors Real Estate Specialist (or SRES designee) is a certified realtor with training and experience in senior real estate. SRES designees understand the unique financial and lifestyle needs of adults over 50, whether they’re considering retiring, downsizing, or joining an active adult community.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist certification has been a part of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) family of designations since 2007. Realtors must complete in-depth training on senior housing options, reverse mortgages, downsizing, and rightsizing to earn the SRES designation. They also train to use pensions, 401(k) accounts, and IRAs in real estate transactions.

Real estate agent vs. Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Real estate agents are licensed professionals who handle general real estate transactions. Real estate agents may specialize in commercial or residential real estate but don’t have specializations beyond that. Real estate agents may also be a member of NAR. Real estate agents may help first-time buyers and families buy, sell, and rent space.

Seniors Real Estate Specialists are already NAR realtors and specialize in working with older adult clients. The SRES designation indicates their specialization in understanding the real estate challenges and needs of adults aged 50 and over, making them an excellent option for older adults who want to work with a real estate professional.

How does a realtor become a Senior Real Estate Specialist?

Realtors with the SRES designation can help older adults sell, buy, refinance residential or investment properties, or relocate to a new area. SRES designees work exclusively with adults over 50, so older adults can benefit from their expertise.

To earn the SRES Certification, qualified NAR realtors must meet multiple criteria. These qualifications set Seniors Real Estate Specialists apart from other real estate agents in the industry. They have demonstrated that they can deliver tailored guidance to older adults through their education, training, and professional affiliation. 

  • Education. U.S. and International realtors must complete a two-day online or in-person course at a local classroom.
  • Examination. U.S. realtors must receive an 80% or higher score on the online exam; that score is not required for international or U.S. realtors taking the in-person course.
  • Professional affiliation. To receive the SRES designation internationally, the student must be in good standing in a cooperating association outside the U.S. NAR realtors who are in the U.S. must be members in good standing with NAR or a cooperating association and the SRES Council.
  • Application. Realtors must apply for and receive approval of the certification.

What are the benefits of working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?

SRES-designated agents do more than sell homes. Benefits of working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist include having an advisor who

  • Understands the emotional side of moving. SRES training includes building empathy and learning to communicate, so the realtor fully understands their clients’ unique situations. They can counsel older adults through selling a family home, help them process the emotions that come with downsizing and offer advice on what to do next.
  • Can navigate senior-specific housing challenges and issues. SRES designees have specific training in financial and real estate requirements for retirees. They also educate themselves on the benefits and drawbacks of senior living communities to ensure they can advise clients on the best move based on their specific desires and resources.
  • Help with financial, retirement, and estate planning. An SRES can offer insights into the senior real estate market and help with potential decisions their clients want to make regarding their financial future.

How to find a Seniors Real Estate Specialist

If you are looking for an agent with an SRES designation, Elder Life Financial can help you find an experienced local agent. Elder Life Financial can also ease older adults’ transitions by providing expert assistance in finding the right senior living community and financing options for paying to move, like the ElderLife Bridge Loan.