Senior Citizens Downsize as Real Estate Market Soars

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United Country Real Estate Agents Offer Advice to Serve Growing Demographic

I deal with a lot of widows that are lost. As an agent, you have to have compassion.

Baby Boomers are getting older and as the senior citizen population continues to rise, real estate agents scramble to keep up with the demand for downsizing, home and personal property auctions, relocation and other needs.

In 2010, senior citizens 65-years-old and older made up just over 10 percent of the population. That number is projected to rise to nearly 21 percent by 2050. Whether they are recently widowed, aren’t able to physically maintain their property or are empty nesters who don’t need the extra space, seniors across the country are looking for a more convenient and comfortable way of living. However, Bradley Arnold, owner and broker of United Country – Southern Lifestyle Properties in Milan, Tenn., said getting them there can be a long process.

“Amenities are really what our seniors are looking for,” said Arnold. “They want a quiet, one-level home for mobility with close access to grocery stores and community attractions. The problem is, getting them to that point can be a process. Getting their home ready to sell is difficult because they accumulate more over the years and tend to have more personalized décor.”

In Northern California, broker and agent Don Wilkins said his passion for seniors and retirees moved him to dig deeper in some of the issues seniors are facing. Although there are services that provide assistance, he watches many seniors get left behind or forgotten by friends and family members.

“Hopefully, they have family they can trust, but a lot of times they don’t,” said Wilkins. “I deal with a lot of widows that are lost. As an agent, you really have to have compassion.”

The good news is, after the economy hit a recession in the mid 2000’s, the market has rebounded enough for those needing to sell to equity out of their home.

“Many of these people got hit by the market with their 401K’s. It took this long to see some light so now they are choosing to downsize from their larger homes,” added Wilkins. “It’s a long and hard process and they need to be exposed to a plan B. They won’t leave plan A until you show them plan B – whether that’s a new home, a retirement facility or moving in with a loved one.”

In light of helping seniors as their population continues to grow, Wilkins, Arnold and United Country agent Jason Roske of United Country – Kansas City Auction Company, offer some advice to seniors and their families who are looking to get to the next step.

  • For seniors - have an open conversation with your family about your wishes with your home, personal property and any other assets.
  • Evaluate and make a plan. Who is involved? Who has legal authority? Are you realistic about your expectations?
  • Make things manageable. Make sure trusts are in order. The more manageable, the faster the house can be put on the market. “The longer the house sits, the less money they will have in the end and that money could be for their loved ones’ care,” added Wilkins.
  • Be open to making changes. Sometimes older homes have outdated décor. Being open to the idea of staging the home with newer furniture and décor could make the home sell faster.
  • Don’t forget about personal property. Have someone look at all of the contents of the estate. “Sometimes auctions work better because they sell both home and personal property. There are even instances where the contents are worth more than the home. Speak with a professional and see what’s needed for the family,” said Roske.
  • Look for a real estate agent that has worked with seniors and retirees.

One of the biggest attributes to look for in a real estate agent besides experience is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation. The designation, provided by the National Association of Realtors®, is designed to install knowledge and understanding of clients and customers of real estate who are 50+. By earning the SRES® designation, agents demonstrate the knowledge and experience to counsel clients through major financial and lifestyle transitions in relocation, refinancing or selling the family home.

“The SRES® designation breaks down the different avenues for selling,” said Arnold, a SRES® designation holder. “Dealing with older sellers, there’s more of a process of getting a home ready for market. Different generations also have different ways to communicate. You learn a lot about the generational gaps and norms.”

“You’ve really have to have patience,” added Wilkins, who is also a SRES® designation holder. “These are old school folk. It’s about communicating with them face-to-face. Old farmers aren’t going to go close to a computer. We are there to help them.”

To find a SRES® designee in your area, visit

United Country Real Estate is the leading land seller in the United States, marketing ranches, farms, recreational and vacation properties nationally. It is the leading, fully integrated network of real estate professionals with nearly 500 offices and 4,000 agents, brokers and auctioneers nationwide specializing in lifestyle real estate.

For more information about United Country Real Estate, call 800-444-5044 or visit

About United Country Real Estate

United Country Real Estate –is the leading, fully integrated network of conventional and auction real estate professionals. The company has been an innovator in lifestyle and country real estate marketing since 1925. United Country supports nearly 500 offices and 5,000 real estate professionals across four continents, with a unique, comprehensive marketing program. The exclusive program includes the highest ranked and largest portfolios of specialty property marketing websites, unequaled national print advertising, the largest internal real estate advertising agency, an extensive buyer database of more than 650,000 opt-in buyers and additional proprietary programs to advertise local properties more broadly.

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Angela Smith
United Country Real Estate
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