Let me start out by saying that after 25 years in real estate, I still love niche marketing. Every successful marketing campaign that I’ve ever created was based on a unique angle or specific demographic. In fact, niche marketing is what allowed me to consistently close over 100 sales each year. The SRES designation claims to prepare you for the niche of one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S.—senior citizens. The question is, is it worth it?
Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2034 the population over 65 will surpass the population under 18 for the first time in U.S. history. With over 77 million people over 65 years of age, this means that tens of millions of senior buyers and sellers will seek help for their specific real estate needs.
So it’s clear that agents who choose to embrace this change will have a better chance of taking a larger share of the senior market. The question I’m going to answer today is: Will the SRES designation actually help you seize this opportunity? To answer it, I’ll go through what it takes to get your Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation, interview a SRES designee, and give you my take on whether the SRES is worth it in 2020.
What’s the SRES Designation?
The Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation trains real estate agents on the unique opportunities and challenges that come with serving the senior citizen market. SRES designees must complete the necessary SRES courses and exams, be a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and maintain an annual membership with the SRES Council.
How Much Does the SRES Designation Cost?
The cost of the 12-hour SRES course is $295. This includes the first year’s membership and dues to the SRES Council. Annual membership dues are $99 each year thereafter. This looks like a bargain compared to the cost of other higher-cost designations.
How Long Does It Take to Get Your SRES Designation?
The SRES course is 12 hours of self-paced, online, on-demand training or a 2-day live, online course. For the online, on-demand course, students will have access to the course for up to 12 months. If you don’t finish the course in 12 months, you will need to repurchase the course and start over.
I like the idea of being able to receive a designation in just 12 hours online or a 2-day live, online training. However, making the decision on what designations to invest in isn’t limited to just the investment of time and money. You must also consider what other long-term perks come with being associated with the group. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of getting your SRES along with my take on the value of those benefits.
SRES Council Member Benefits
Selecting the best designations to invest in can be a challenge. Most designations, including the SRES, require you to maintain an annual paid membership in order to continue to use the designation. Therefore, may I suggest that before parting from your hard-earned commission dollars, ask yourself, “What else do I get for the money I’m spending?”
Along with the obvious gains of educating yourself on the demands of baby boomers, SRES Council members also receive the following member benefits:
Access to SRES Members Directory
The benefits of being a member of SRES include an online members directory where you will add your professional profile to attract homebuyers and sellers looking for an SRES-designated agent, as well as other SRES Council members looking to refer to another SRES member.
Access to the SRES Marketing Resources
As an SRES member, you also have access to marketing materials to promote yourself to senior homebuyers and sellers with professionally designed and customizable marketing materials, including:
- SRES logos
- Digital banner ads
- SRES marketing plan
- Social media resources
- Brand style guide
- Postcards, flyers, and brochures
- PowerPoint presentations
- Promotional videos
SRES Council Members Community
SRES Council members have access to a private SRES Facebook Group for networking, referral opportunities, and the latest SRES member updates.
Ongoing SRES Education
You will receive current news, events, legislative updates, and trends that affect your senior clients. As long as you remain an SRES Council member, you will have the opportunity to keep learning with webinars, articles, newsletters, and infographics.
Membership has its privileges, and I am nearly 100% confident that for $99 a year, you could return tens of thousands if you utilized the tools included with your SRES Council membership. But, what are the steps to get your designation?
How to Get Your SRES Designation—It’s Easier Than You Think
Many agents don’t get designations because of the time and cost, but obtaining an SRES designation is neither costly nor time consuming. The SRES designation is one of the least difficult to achieve and at only $295, you are sure to recapture the expense on your next 50+ sale.
1. Register for the SRES Course
Begin by logging into NAR.org and registering for the online course. You will need the email and password associated with your NAR account as well as your NRDS number to register for the class. If you are not a member of NAR, you must join first in order to register for the SRES courses.
Currently, the SRES Designation Course is offered online on-demand as well as live-online through your local Association of Realtors.
2. Complete the SRES Course
The 12-hour SRES Designation Course is available in an online, on-demand format. This allows you to move at your own pace and do the course when it is convenient for you. The 2-day live-online allows you to actively participate with the instructor and complete the course quickly.
The SRES Designation Course Will Teach You How to:
- Identify demographic generational groups based on age.
- Challenge stereotypes about older adults’ activities and interests.
- Consider how economic challenges affect retirement plans.
- Acquaint clients and customers with desirable community and home features for aging in place.
- Apply knowledge of age-based homeownership cycle in order to help clients and customers find homes that fit their preferences, life stage, and needs.
- Distinguish between types of elder housing options that offer assistive services.
- Identify situations in which a home equity conversion (HECM) mortgage would be helpful and appropriate.
- Gain an overview of tax issues of concern for 50+ clients and customers.
- Avoid inappropriate involvement in family matters and maintain focus on the real estate transaction.
- Develop business building outreach methods for gaining and communicating with the 50+ market.
- Develop services that win and sustain client and customer relationships and position you as a trusted real estate adviser.
- Assemble a team of experts to help you serve 50+ clients and customers.
Continuing Education (CE) Credits
3. Maintain Active Membership in the SRES Council
The SRES Council provides continuing education to Realtors, delivers valuable information and resources to both members and customers, and attempts to connect senior homebuyers and sellers with qualified SRES designees.
You receive one year of membership to the SRES Council with your SRES designation course fees. Annual fees are $99 each year thereafter to remain a SRES Council member.
The SRES Council membership benefits sound fantastic, but I wanted to hear it for myself from an active SRES designee.
Linda Giannosa: An SRES Member’s Take on if the SRES Designation Is Valuable in 2020
While reviewing the SRES designation, I felt the need to interview an actual SRES designee. I wanted honest answers about what the course was like and if the designation has been valuable. Past colleague and friend, Linda Giannosa, The Baby Boomers’ Realtor, was happy to oblige. Here is the abbreviated version of our conversation:
Do you currently specialize exclusively with seniors?
“I absolutely do not. What has been very joyful for me is that the ‘olders’ (a term Linda prefers over seniors) that I do work with often refer me to their children and grandchildren. Whether it’s their first home or not, I really enjoy working with all the ages that I’m privileged to work with.”
Why did you decide to get your SRES designation?
“Well, it harkens back to me feeling well-suited to serve those baby boomers. By the way, I tag myself as the ‘Baby Boomers’ Realtor.’ Getting the SRES designation was another badge for me to have. Not to market myself per se, but as an education for myself. Any designation or additional education that I have gotten has always been to improve my service.”
Has the SRES designation impacted your real estate business?
“Yes. I probably can say yes because right now I have a client who sought me out through our eXp network, and she caught me because of my tagline ‘The Baby Boomer’s Realtor,’ but I am pretty sure she checked to see if I had my SRES also. Have I had people go to look for an agent who has their SRES through the database and then find me? I don’t think so.”
Would you recommend someone get their SRES designation?
“I believe that anyone of any age, who wants to work or thinks they may work with people who are aging in our society, will be well-served by learning more about what the differences are in the different age groups. So, I believe that anybody that serves people that are a little older should have it because that’s the education they should put in their back pocket.”
My Take on SRES: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Now that you know a little more about the designation itself, here’s my take on whether or not it’s worth it in 2020.
Homebuyers and home sellers are aging and their needs are different than what most of us deal with day to day. If you want to work with more aging clients and you want to increase your knowledge, then the SRES is the best bet.
With the SRES, you can do the course work in less than a week and it isn’t too expensive. Additionally, I like that it is a designation recognized by NAR.
Besides, don’t you want some of the extra letters behind your name to impress your friends?
Online-only classes can be boring. I learn better when I have the ability to ask the instructor questions. The live-online classes are very limited throughout the country. If you are like me, this may be a factor you want to consider before signing up.
If you are hoping that getting the SRES will lead to tons of senior clients and referrals simply because you have the designation, then you will be greatly disappointed. Just like any designation, the SRES won’t actually make you any additional money if you don’t market yourself correctly. SRES does provide tools and materials to help, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you. Do you want to put in the time and effort to target this niche with your marketing?
If you want to specialize in any niche or demographic, you must be LOUD and PROUD to share your excitement, knowledge, and experience of working with that group. Then you will see results from your efforts.
Over to You
Do you have advice about getting your SRES designation? Please let us know in the comments, or if you’re an active agent, join our Facebook Mastermind Group here.