Even after 28 years in real estate, I still love niche marketing. In fact, every successful marketing campaign that I’ve ever created focused on a unique angle or specific demographic. If your specialized niche is serving those age 50 or older—one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S.—is it worth getting your Seniors Real Estate Designation Specialist (SRES) certification? Let’s explore the benefits of SRES, how to obtain it, how much it costs, and ultimately, whether the time and money involved will be a boost to your business. 

What’s the SRES Designation?

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation trains real estate agents in the unique opportunities and challenges that come with serving those over 50 years old. SRES designees must complete the required courses and exams, be an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and maintain membership with the SRES Council.

How Much Does the SRES Designation Cost?

The SRES course costs $295, though there are often seasonal discounts. This cost includes the first year’s membership dues to the SRES Council, which are $99 each year thereafter. While not free, it’s certainly a bargain compared to higher-priced designations that can cost thousands of dollars.

How Long Does It Take to Get Your SRES Designation?

You can take the SRES course via 12 hours of self-paced, online, on-demand training or a two-day live, online course. Students who opt for the online, on-demand version will have access to the course for up to 12 months. If you don’t finish the course in one year, you will need to repurchase it and start over.

Why Specialize in the Senior Market?  

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of people over 65 will surpass the population under 18 for the first time in U.S. history in the year 2034. With tens of millions of Americans over the age of 50, this is a huge share of the real estate market. Senior buyers and sellers often need specialized help for their specific real estate needs. Agents who embrace this real estate niche have an excellent opportunity to capitalize on this explosive demographic.

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SRES Council Member Benefits

Real estate designations take time and money, so it’s crucial to find the ones that result in a real return on investment. So what exactly does one get out of a SRES designation beyond education? 

SRES Referrals & Member Directory

Seniors want to work with real estate professionals who understand their unique challenges and pain points, and many specifically seek out agents with the SRES designation. Don’t believe me? We spoke with Stephanie Burrows, a Realtor and SRES designee at Allen Tate Realtors, about the visibility this brings to her business. 

Stephanie Burrows, Allen Tate Realtors

I got my SRES designation in 2009 because I was working with seniors and wanted to raise the level of service that I provided to my clients. It also gives them a better sense of security, knowing that I went through the training. When working with senior communities the first thing they ask me is if I have the SRES designation. Without it I would not be able to be as involved and trusted within these communities.

One easy way consumers find a local agent who’s earned the SRES designation is through the member directory. All SRES designees have a professional profile in this public database, which is searchable by geographic location. This means your information will be easily accessible to both Realtors looking to refer to SRES members and members of your community searching for agents with this specialized training and education. 

Access to SRES Marketing Resources

As an SRES member, you get access to the SRES logos, a brand guide, marketing plan, and other materials that help you promote your business to senior homebuyers and sellers, including:

  • Newsletters
  • Content-rich social media templates via Photofy
  • Postcard, flyer, and brochure templates, as well as discounted printing services
  • 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. As of this writing, it has more than 3,800 members and 56 posts just this month. 

Ongoing SRES Education

SRES Council members receive current news, event invitations, legislative updates, and research that affect their senior clients. As long as you remain an SRES Council member, you will have the opportunity to continue with your professional development through these resources.

How to Get Your SRES Designation

The SRES designation is one of the least difficult designations to achieve, and at only $295, you are sure to recapture the expense on your first referral. To sign up, go to the SRES homepage and log in with your NAR credentials. 

The 12-hour SRES course is available in an online, on-demand format. This allows you to move at your own pace and complete the coursework when it’s convenient for you, as long as you complete it within a year. The two-day live online option allows you to actively interact with the instructor and knock out the course quickly. 

Educational Value

Stephanie Burrows helped us understand how the courses helped her better serve her community: “I learned that to work with seniors requires a lot of empathy and patience. That it is at times a very difficult process for a senior to navigate selling their homes. I learned that a lot of seniors and veterans do not feel they have the respect that they deserve and many are taken advantage of.”

Specifically, here’s a look at what you’ll learn to do:

  • Identify demographic generational groups
  • Gain deeper understanding into older adults’ needs, activities, and interests
  • Consider how economic challenges affect retirement plans and home financing
  • Acquaint clients with desirable communities and home features that facilitate aging in place
  • Understand the age-based homeownership cycle to help clients 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 mortgage would be appropriate
  • Gain an overview of tax issues of concern to seniors
  • Develop marketing methods specifically tailored to the 50-plus market
  • Develop services that win and sustain client relationships and position yourself as a trusted real estate adviser
  • Assemble a team of experts to help you serve 50-plus clients and customers

To maintain your SRES designation, you’ll need to remain a NAR member and pay an annual $99 fee to the council. 

Linda Giannosa: An SRES Member’s Experience

I sat down with my colleague and friend, Linda Giannosa (aka The Baby Boomers’ Realtor), to better understand how the SRES designation has helped her build her business. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation:

Why did you decide to get your SRES designation?

“It harkens back to me feeling well-suited to serve those baby boomers. 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.”

Do you currently work exclusively with seniors?

“I absolutely do not. What has been very joyful for me is that the ‘olders’ 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.”

Would you recommend agents get an 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. That’s the education they should put in their back pocket.”

My Verdict on SRES: Is It Worth It?

Yes. If you want to work with clients who are 50 years old and over, the SRES is a great value. Not only does the course help agents understand the unique challenges involved in working within this demographic, it is a relatively low time commitment and cost. In one weekend, you could get certified and be ready to market your expertise the following Monday. 

When you consider that this demographic is growing at exponential rates, the SRES designation becomes even more appealing. If you can position yourself as the best agent for seniors and their unique challenges, the opportunities are endless. And as the agents that we interviewed point out, the SRES designation not only enables you to better serve this demographic and their specific needs, it also gives seniors and their families confidence in your abilities and faith in your skills. 

SRES Caveats

However, let me caution you that just putting SRES behind your name will not necessarily lead to a massive influx of senior clients and referrals. Like with any designation, the SRES won’t actually make you more money if you don’t market yourself correctly. SRES provides the tools and materials to help, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to put in the time and effort to target this population and market your special qualifications.

Take it from Stephanie: “If an agent wants to work with seniors, I would highly recommend that they get their SRES, but they will also have to continually update themselves on the world of seniors and how to work with them. It’s the side of business that is all about them—they need to be listened to and respected.”  

Bringing It All Together

If you want to specialize in any niche or demographic, you must be loud and proud to share your excitement, knowledge, and experience working with that group. Only then you will see results from your efforts. 

Do you have advice about getting your SRES designation? Please let us know in the comment section!