how to choose realtor SRES

If you are shopping around for a Realtor, you may notice that agents will frequently list acronyms after their names.  Typically these acronyms indicate special designations that have been earned through the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  The “SRES” designation is shorthand for “Senior Real Estate Specialist.”

What is an SRES?

Licensed real estate salespersons who carry the SRES designation have completed specialized training to better serve the needs of older people.  The training includes a deep dive into topics that may affect seniors, including:

  • Housing choices for people over 50.
  • Ways a home can be adapted for safety and comfort so the owner can stay in their home.
  • Common financial instruments that may be appropriate.
  • Recognize common pitfalls when working with extended family.
  • Recognize common scams that target older people.
  • Compliance with federal laws that protect older people.

In addition to completing the course and passing an exam, Realtors with the SRES designation participate in continuing education and collaboration with other Senior Real Estate Specialists nationwide.

If you’re downsizing and/or selling a well-loved home, a qualified and skilled Realtor can make the process go smoothly and help you get top dollar for your property.  

While hiring a Realtor with the SRES designation does not guarantee success, it can be an excellent indicator of how familiar they are with older people in transition.

What should I look for in an SRES?

The biggest reason to look for agents with the SRES designation is that they have announced to the world that they want to work with seniors.  And if they are active, successful agents, they probably have helped a lot of people over 50.

Some SRES agents have gone “all-in” on helping seniors, and they can often guide you through all of the steps that will be necessary to sort, pack, move, make repairs, and market your property.  If they are “all-in,” then they will be able to introduce you to resources in your area that will be available to help with any need that may arise.

Many times, agents who obtain the SRES designation have other career or personal experience that dovetails with the needs of seniors, and may even be seniors themselves!   Whether they are part of your demographic or not, they will almost certainly have ties to the senior community in your area and know popular options for seniors in your area.

Moving after age 50

Top moving motivators for people over 50 include freedom from property upkeep, a new space better suited to their health needs, and financial reasons.  

A move at this age can be overwhelming for lots of reasons. Some people have trouble leaving their homes because of the wonderful memories they have there.  For others, the task of taking on repairs and updates that may be necessary to make their property ready for market is daunting. Others worry that their adult children may resent them for selling their childhome home.  

An experienced Senior Real Estate Specialist is well-versed in these concerns and will be sensitive to the emotional and practical aspects of selling a well-loved home. 

What an SRES Does

Guidance for Downsizing

The majority of over-50 moves will require downsizing.  There will be many decisions to be made about what to keep and how much of it will fit.  After a lifetime of accumulating treasured pieces, it can be challenging to curate belongings into smaller collections. 

Then, there is the issue of what to do with what remains. An SRES may have a general sense of what items may have value, but more importantly, will have a strong network of experts that can advise on appraisals and the best markets to sell the items that won’t be moved to the new space.


An SRES will also have numerous contacts to tackle repairs and maintenance that may be necessary to sell the property quickly and in accordance with the seller’s goals.  An SRES has a handle on the multiple logistics to be considered, such as coordinating movers as well as junk removal, donation pick-ups.  They will also know the local legal processes for disposing of hazardous materials such as expired medicines, gardening chemicals, paint, etc.


Senior Real Estate Specialists often have experience working with the adult children of their older clients. An SRES understands the sometimes significant influence of family dynamics, and recognizes that each one is unique. A critical skill of an SRES is to keep the focus on their client’s wishes and the end goal of selling the home for top dollar.

What an SRES Doesn’t Do

While an SRES does many things, there are a few things they do not do.

  • They don’t negotiate on behalf of any person or company other than YOU, their client.
  • While they can offer you referrals to movers, appraisers, estate planners, repair experts and other move-related service providers, you actually make the decision about with whom to contract for such services.
  • SRES professionals do not provide any legal or financial advice, including evaluation/sale of your assets. 

The Value of Experienced Senior Real Estate Specialists

An SRES should be focused on the entire “senior move experience,” not just getting the listing. An SRES designation indicates that the Realtor is flexible, a capable project manager that can oversee multiple tasks simultaneously, and comfortable navigating a variety of family dynamics.

Senior Real Estate Specialists should also be well able to provide you with local experts such as Senior Move Managers, auction houses, downsizing services, etc. The SRES should be able to provide you with a list of at least three qualified vendors in each category you request. But YOU still have the responsibility and decision power to select which ones you want to use. When vetting an SRES to help you with your move look for:

  • A demonstrated a strong track record of selling homes!
  • Recent, positive reviews from verified clients.
  • Experience in your local area.
  • And if they have earned the SRES designation, even better!

Whatever you do, avoid Realtors who promote themselves as downsizing experts, but don’t actually have a team in place to provide the services. Don’t be afraid to ask about these resources upfront, before you sign a listing agreement.

And if you’re ever in doubt, call us first!  We can introduce you to vetted, qualified help for your downsizing project, senior move or home transition.

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