There is no demographics that is less understood in this day than age than senior buyers and sellers. With such a broad scope of backgrounds and ages between them, people from the Baby Boomer generation and The Silent Generation are hard to lump into one category when it comes to marketing needs. However, there are a lot of things that older buyers and sellers have in common.
The need for housing doesn’t go away, no matter a person’s age. The type of housing does shift and the way that people shop for that housing will vary depending on person’s life experience. Understanding those intricacies is paramount to truly ensuring your senior clients get exactly what they want from a real estate transaction.
What are their specific real estate needs?
Just like any other client, the needs of older buyers and sellers will greatly depend on the individual. But often you will find a few common themes with seniors when it comes to buying – empty nesters looking for a retirement home, buying a home to leave to the future generation, or investors looking to fund their retirement. As for sellers, seniors often will leave larger homes for smaller ones and smaller towns for bigger towns with more accessibility. Regardless of the age of your client, getting to know who your client is and why they are in search of real estate services is important so that you can better tailor your services to their specific needs.
Direct mail campaigns
While it is common for agents to immediately turn to Facebook and digital marketing campaigns for most advertising, this approach may not be as effective with seniors. Some older buyers and sellers are tech savvy but most prefer a personal touch. Real estate is less about instant gratification for these shoppers and more about substance. An agent that comes across as fast-talking and flashy may find themselves poorly matched with older clients. Direct mail campaigns with high quality images and limited industry lingo make a big impact. Also consider adjusting the size of your font a bit larger. If you normally print size 12, consider going up to 16 for senior clients. The larger size will make your mailers easier to read and less likely to get thrown away with the junk mail.
As agents, we have become dependent on communicating with text and emails almost exclusively. For those generations that did not grow up with that technology readily available, a personal phone call is appreciated and often preferred. That is not to imply that older clients do not text and email just as much as Millennials, but when communicating important information such as real estate transaction details, a human interaction is more polite. Speaking directly leaves room for your older clients to ask questions rather than fill in the blanks for themselves.
Although senior home shoppers are often not the first to jump onto the technological advances in real estate industry, video tours are the exception. Some older shoppers have limitations in mobility and having a way to help to narrow the field of viewing options prior to leaving one’s home is preferable. Video tours will never be a substitute for viewing a home in person but it can greatly save time and effort on the part of your client if they are able to eliminate some homes that are not a good fit.
Do not make the mistake of writing off senior clients as non-users of the internet. With the prevalence of social media and email, most older clients have at the very least a basic understanding of how to communicate online with their family. Some are much more savvy when it comes to online content. To ensure that your online message is absorbed by the widest audience, make sure it is easily digestible. Keep your email newsletters easy to read and similar to a print layout style. The more traditional the style, the easier it can be absorbed by a mass audience.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to senior clients is that they are going through all the same stresses as younger clients when it comes to buying or selling their homes. But often senior clients have family members or caregivers that feel the need to intervene into your transaction. Unless you have been instructed to interact with someone other than your client by them directly, all of your communication should go directly to through your client. A well-meaning son or daughter might want to help alleviate some of the stress of buying a new home from their parents by being your point of contact but ultimately, you are not working for them.
Every client comes with their own set of challenges. With senior clients, it’s important to ensure that you respect their time and their specific needs. Do not assume that you know how they want to communicate or what they are looking for in a property simply due to their age. It is best to simply ask what they want and meet their individual needs by being as accommodating as possible.