Dealing With the Elderly Requires More Than Just Patience

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 REB.0759001

Dealing With the Elderly Requires More Than Just Patience


I just completed a transaction that gave me more of an education into dealing with the elderly than I thought was possible. I know I can be patient, but with people that have been in their home for years, and have age, patience is just not all that’s needed.

People do not see the areas of a home that could be issues to a prospective buyer. After living in a home for so many years, they become so accustomed to their surroundings that there is never an issue with being updated.

I cannot count the number of times I heard this client talk about how beautiful she thought her pine paneling was, and yet when a prospective buyer came through the door all they saw was the work needed to clean it up.

Price reductions with the elderly are extremely difficult. They see a price reduction as a loss to their retirement income. They are too old to work and their revenue is fixed so that any reduction to the listing price is a reduction to the amount of money they will have as their funds for life. They know that a new buyer will have a job and a far greater earnings potential that they have and therefore should be able to pay more for the home.

Marketing the Home becomes an issue as well. Print advertising is not as effective as it was at one time, and almost all buyers use the Internet for their home search. There is still a belief with some that their homes should be advertised repeatedly in print, as that was the way they found their home when they bought. When they cannot see their home as a showcase in the Sunday homes section, they do not believe they are being promoted as well as they should be.

Inspection Issues can also present a problem. They believe that if the home is being sold at such a great price, then the buyer should be prepared to fix any items that might come up during the inspection.

Whenever a need to discuss presents itself, it is advisable to request that another family member be present so that there is no misunderstanding of what is being discussed. In addition, everything that is relevant to the transaction should be put down in writing and signed by all present to avoid conflicts after the transaction is completed.

We all work to provide the best service we can t our clients, but there can be a segment of those that we service that need just a bit more time, patience and care to assure the deal runs smoothly.

Dealing With the Elderly Requires More Than Just Patience



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  1. Ellie McIntire 05/02/2012 06:46 PM
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Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Oh boy you are so on track. In our area we see older houses with good (it works) kitchens yet the bueyrs walk in and see horrendous amounts of work. The sellers think the oven works, so what! The buyer thinks they must gut the kitchen to make it livable to them. Ugh. 

May 02, 2012 06:19 PM #32
Ellie McIntire
Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate - Ellicott City, MD
Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville

Well said Ed. We get so caught up with technology that sometimes we forget to appreciate that a senior is in a different place.

May 02, 2012 06:23 PM #33
Judi K Barrett
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma - Idabel, OK
BA, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Ed, I had a caller on Monday leave me a message asking me to call a certain phone number which I did.  No response back so yesterday I called the number he had called me on instead of the number he had left me.  He could not figure out how I had gotten that number. (Caller Id on my cell).  Then he couldn't remember which property he had called about but knew what kind of property he was interested in.  He used being 65 years of age as a reason for not being able to get around on the internet and wanted me to send him links etc... which is fine, that's part of what we do.  BUT what dawned on me is that each one of us decides sometimes at what point we are going to start claiming age as the inhibitor to keeping up with new technology. 

May 02, 2012 06:38 PM #34
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Ed -- Excellent point on putting details into writing and having the client and a family member sign off. Simply accepting that the elderly client will tell his/her son or daughter is not a safe practice. Being a little more diligent upfront will  prevent misunderstandings and subsequent issues later on. Nice post.

May 02, 2012 06:38 PM #35
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise in NE Philadelphia & Bucks County

What did you say Ed ??? I didn't hear you ...

Wonderful post congrats on you star !


May 02, 2012 06:43 PM #36
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. "Said and Done!" - Merrick, NY
Long Island's South Shore Real Estate Agent

Yes, yes, yes and yes. I've written about those exact same things. It can be hard, but also rewarding and if they like you, they are very loyal.

May 02, 2012 06:50 PM #37
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Brian, I just took this class up close and personal all on practical. Thanks for stopping.

Peggy, it takes a lot of conversation and patience to get through the transaction

Kathy, thanks, this client just wasn't getting the nature of the way the system works now.

Sheila, that is sad for the woman that can't grasp the situation and has a family that is in denial

Pamela. dealing with people that might have a problem grasping the entire deal requires an agent with a great deal of moral fiber and integrity so they do not get taken for a ride

Barbara, I do have a couple of 55+ communities that I have been working in and they do require a great deal of patience

May 02, 2012 07:00 PM #38
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Suzanne, I'm earning my SRES the old fashioned way, one transaction at a time

Nancy, after a bit it becomes more a matter of dealing with an elderly family member for the degree of care that is given.

Rich, that is definitely the case. They need help and when you offer to take over they are so appreciative, but getting them to sign that agreement keeps the pressure off.

Ginny, you and me as well, and every day a little closer

Marie, so true, I would tell here occasionally that she was being treated just like a senior aunt might be treated.

Debb, I didn't take psychology classes in college so I need to wing it.

Tammie, for them it's always, But I think it looks so nice, why wouldn't they like it?



May 02, 2012 07:13 PM #39
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Anna, the family member is important provided they don't become more of a hindrance

Andy, and maybe explain it twice at least

Sandy, thanks, it does take patience

Betty, having the papers signed was important as the lawyers would have nothing to say especially if there were money involved

Donald, this kitchen was at least 60 years old

MC, I have dealt with a few 'grown-ups' recently and they do take extra care.

Carla, the scenario is very similar and it has been harsh for a lot of people

May 02, 2012 07:24 PM #40
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Barb, it requires taking a viewpoint that this could be one of our own family members

William, thanks and thanks for stopping

Cheryl, my guess is that it is a long way off and there will be someone there for you

Beth, I did get some insight on life 70 years ago

Bryan, once they understand that you are trying to help them they become more receptive.

Julia, some things just go easier once all have read and signed

May 02, 2012 07:32 PM #41
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Juli, at 95 this was the oldest client I have had to date

Reba, having someone around that can help is good, but it isn't always the case.

Teral, having someone else to hear the details prevents problems.

Karen, thanks, and yes the elderly do need extra attention

Thanks A & P, sometimes they just write themselves for the way the story develops

Erica, that's when it gets difficult as the seller has already made a concession for the work needed but the buyers want the sellers to subsidize it as well.

May 02, 2012 07:41 PM #42
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Ellie, for the elderly the way we need to do business is an alien method that they have difficulty understanding.

Judi, for some things I am already there with the age excuse. We do have to second guess as well.

Barbara, the minute we believe that something is not being understood, is when it should be put in writing, regardless of age.

Hannah, I'll put it in writing for you, but bigger font

OK Jill, I take it you agree

May 02, 2012 07:48 PM #43
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Ed -- You have written a very compelling post and you have hit on some very important aspects of working with an elderly seller.  I think it is great advice to have other family members involved.

May 02, 2012 08:01 PM #44
The Friendly Home Team
Realty Pro Oregon, LLC - Beaverton, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

You have to have patience and understanding. I love working with all people, but the love I get back from older people is amazing. (It maybe because I love to listen to their stories) Unfortunately today, I had the downside and had to attend the funeral of one of my clients.


May 02, 2012 10:43 PM #45
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Love your comment about earning your SRES the old fashioned way, one transaction at a time!

May 03, 2012 05:27 AM #46
Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

Excellent post. Sometimes they mention their "new roof" even though it was put on brand new 18 years ago. Same goes for other big ticket items like furnace or the kitchen they remodeled in 1975. It's hard to tell them that their pride and joy is actually now a problem item.


Always, always, treat the elderly with utmost respect. They accomplished much in their life.

May 03, 2012 07:01 AM #47
Kevin A. Guttman Reverse Mortgage Planner-Working By Referral
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. NMLS#384936 - Colorado Springs, CO

There is probably some deferred maint. on homes owned by the elderly I would think.


May 03, 2012 02:15 PM #48
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * - Albuquerque, NM, Albuquerque Homes Realty
Good evening Ed Dropping by to say hello and say you should come to Albuquerque for the big Cinco de Mayo parties! John
May 03, 2012 06:16 PM #49
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin
PK Real Estate Utah South, St. George, UT 84770 - Saint George, UT
Your Preferred St. George Area Real Estate Agent.

Ed, Your post hit a few emotional chords with me as I have always had older people as good friends and sometimes their lives move much slower than ours and because they exist in yesterdays. Congrats on the well deserved feature!

May 03, 2012 07:03 PM #50
Brian Park
Danville, CA

Apparently, you didn't learn much at all, the elderly may have physical problems they didn't have before, and may be a little slower in processing things as fast as they once did, but most are just the same as any other group, you are the one adding on features you need not add, things are not always how they seem. They may have problems but they are not exclusive to the elderly.

I am one of the elderly, and the past few years have spent a lot of time serving the so called elderly by choice and for free. Elderly, a term I hate because of the prejudices that go along it and with the general perceptions. Elderly was intended as a medical term, not a classification of a society. As a broker I can out perform you any day of the week but to a younger person just being informed of my services and knowing my age they seem to think I am supposed to be in some senior day care center drooling over my self instead of producing. I can jump to their age group in a minute, which is a reminder of the old George Burns song that went I know what it is to be young being sung to a young person but you don't know what it's like to be old. Yes, I know, who is George Burns.

Generally when it comes to housing problems they have the same problems any other age group can have. My clientele in 2012 generally has the same basic problems as my clientele did in 1955.

May 05, 2012 01:28 PM #51
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Ed Silva

Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

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