What Characterizes the Perfect Seniors Real Estate and Housing Expert?

Posted by: Nikki Buckelew

I have been spending a lot of time thinking lately. Scary right? Thinking about how to insure that each and EVERY elder homeowner in every market around the U.S., in North America, and eventually around the globe, is served at the highest level possible when they have a real estate related need or question. 

It sometimes feels like a daunting task, but we are up for it. I feel both called and compelled to fulfill this worthy mission — it's as though I have been preparing for it most of my live.  

So, what characteristics are essential in becoming a “qualified” real estate professional who serves downsizing seniors, vulnerable elder homeowners, caregiver families, and aging services organizations?

Having spent the better part of two decades coaching, training, managing, and working alongside real estate agents across the country, I have compiled a list of qualities and qualifications that I feel differentiate "ideal" seniors real estate professionals from the average agent.  

Character Traits

  • High integrity. Clients’ needs come first and doing the right thing is more important than earning a commission. 
  • Respectful and gracious: Shows appreciation and respect for all parties. 
  • Patience and empathy: Has a deep appreciation for late in life challenges and holds a space for clients to work through emotional challenges. 
  • Relational: Sees people as valued and important. Believes that real estate transactions are not about homes, but about individuals and families. 

Skills and Knowledge

  • Successful: The ability to anticipate needs and challenges, create a plan, take action, and accomplish goals.
  • Competent: Knows their market, understands their client, and is able to effectively navigate transactions from beginning to end. 
  • Well-read: Not only understands and knows the real estate market, but is also well-versed in the issues of aging, family dynamics, caregiving, and other late-life issues. 
  • Connected: Surrounds them self with a network of subject matter experts who can be called upon when clients need non-real estate related support or assistance.


  • Action-oriented: Assertive and responsive. Enthusiastically leads and directs when appropriate and necessary to do so.
  • Helpful and supportive: Takes steps to get tasks accomplished — even if it means getting their hands dirty. 
  • Consistent and dedicated: Follows through and completes tasks. 
  • Flexible and innovative: Finds creative ways to insure that client needs are taken care of. 
  • Communicative: Maintains frequent and clear communication in a way that is meaningful and appropriate for the parties involved. 
  • Collaborative: Works well with others both inside and outside the real estate industry. 
  • Team player: Creates reciprocal relationships with senior living communities and other aging services providers to insure seniors are well-served.

Life Experience

  • Legacy Coach: Wants to make a difference through their vocation. Knows that serving seniors provides a way to both earn a living and make a positive difference.
  • Caregiver role: Has first hand experience, either personally or professionally, helping older adults with late-life issues. 
  • Family ties: Maintains fond memories and experiences with elder relatives and mentors who positively impacted their life. 
  • Maturity: Understands that relationships are invaluable and that life is precious.

Albeit not comprehensive, this list will at least help paint a picture of the type of agent our organization and programs typically attract AND with whom we are seeking to connect.  There are lots of seniors out there and millions will need an agent who is sensitive to and knowledgeable about their needs in the coming years.

There are HUNDREDS of agents in the industry who would be PERFECT candidates for serving the senior market - for us, however, finding them is the hard part. 

What do you think?

What other characteristics do you believe are important in working with downsizing seniors and elder home owners? Share them in the comments below or on Facebook! 

Who do you know who fits the above description? Forward or share this post with them!


Nikki Buckelew is the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation. A veteran REALTOR® of over two decades, she holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. As a professional speaker, coach, and trainer, Nikki is committed to empowering, equipping, and educating real estate sales and senior housing professionals seeking to better serve the mature market segment. 

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