When polling a group of real estate agents recently, I found it surprising that few had considered the need to have a showing policy that addresses the specific needs of older adult clients.
Focused specifically on serving downsizing seniors, our team frequently found it necessary to make special provisions for our older clients for a variety of reasons – safety being number one.
The older generation can sometimes be overly trusting when it comes to opening the door for people. This, coupled with the expectation of people coming to the home for showings, just added a layer of security concerns that we wanted to address in order to avoid possible issues.
Educate and Empower
By educating clients about the way the electronic lockbox systems work, we were able to empower them to make good choices when it came to knowing when and for whom to open their door. As a matter of policy, we instructed our clients to require anyone coming to their door to use the lockbox rather than just letting them in. Sometimes this was challenging because our elders saw this as discourteous. Naturally, with a bit more educating about the built in tracking and security the lockbox system provides, they were typically happy to abide by the guideline.
Leaving vs. Staying
In many cases, older adults prefer to remain home for showings. REALTORS can all agree that this is not usually the best case scenario for the seller or the buyer. Buyers feel uncomfortable when homeowners are present and do not feel that they can fully appreciate what the home has to offer with the seller watching over them. And in some cases, the seller may unintentionally say something to the buyer that decreases their competitive edge in the negotiations of the sale.
The larger challenge with older sellers, however, is not that they won’t leave, but more often they CAN’T leave. Whether it be poor eyesight or night vision, medication related restrictions, or simply they no longer have a vehicle, seniors reaching their later years often rely on others for transportation.
For these clients, real estate agents must make it a point to explore a variety of options to help facilitate the client’s absence during showings. Some agents may choose, as we did, to provide transportation for a client while others may arrange for neighbors or friends to accompany the client for a walk or short drive during the time a showing takes place. If the client is unable to leave, they may be instructed to sit in an inconspicuous area of the home and keep their conversation to a minimum.
Other considerations for inclusion in a showing policy might include pets, scheduling around medical appointments or in-home care, and the handling prescription drugs and valuables.
If you are an agent specializing in seniors real estate and housing and do not currently have a specific showing policy for seniors, please contact Seniors Real Estate Institute and we will supply you with a sample copy.