The National Association of Realtors has a designation for those of us who have had extensive training in dealing with the real estate needs of seniors. The term is Senior Real Estate Specialist. I am proud to have been through the program, but I have to say I think the “senior” name is a bit limiting. I prefer to call myself a generational specialist. Perhaps now more than ever before, I find I am often dealing with more than one generation of a family when assisting them with some real estate need. Often if the elders are ill or relocating, I may work with their children. In the case of young, first-time buyers, it is increasingly common for their parents to be involved and occasionally help with the financing. I think the term “sandwich generation” probably says it all. Yes, we are trained to assist the older generation with their changing real estate requirements, but those decisions are seldom made without the input of other family members.
While the primary real estate requirements and financial concerns may have arisen because of the changing needs of the older generation, it goes without saying that ideal strategy would be a plan that provides security and peace of mind for the entire family. Taking a look at the big picture requires a thorough understanding of the needs of all involved, which can only be determined with good communication and close examination. For instance, recently elderly couple I know decided to deed their real property to their children without consulting an expert. The end result is that they created an unfortunate taxable event for their children and could have better accomplished their goals by some better means. A family discussion and a well, thought-out strategy could have prevented this ill-advised mistake.
When representing families I often find that the best service I can offer is that of a sounding board. It is unfortunate, but families frequently fail to communicate well with loved ones when dealing with health and aging issues. Sometimes the role of facilitator is more important than that of real estate broker. It is not as simple as buying and selling. Understanding how to create the needed cash flows and protect assets from unnecessary taxes are very important issues that must be taken into account. In order to develop a sound strategy, most families need a guiding hand. Helping families with these and other issues is just part of the reason that I love what I do.
Jeff Stewart, CCIM Broker Associate
Stanberry & Associates, Realtors