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SRES Designation Indicates A Realtor's Dedication to Serving Seniors

Today's real estate market is full of first-time home buyers, those who are moving up, and those who are moving away. But the segment of the market occupied by seniors is finally starting to catch a toe-hold in the South Valley by a little known specialist designation that's emerging among real estate agents.

Known as Seniors Real Estate Specialists (SRES), real estate agents who belong to the National Association of Realtors are taking coursework to obtain the NAR's designation that sets them apart from the rest of agents as having been trained to work with seniors who are selling their homes.

Although the SRES designation has existed since 2007, today there are a mere seven agents in the South Valley currently holding the certification, six of them in Visalia and one in Kingsburg.

In a prepared statement, the NAR said, "Our vision was (and is) to create a community of realtors and related professionals dedicated to serving the real estate needs of senior consumers." But clearly for the local agents, there is a passion behind the hours of coursework and training that is required to become an SRES.

"The training taught me how to be compassionate and understanding of the process (of working with seniors)," said Yolanda Faubel, a realtor with Century 21 Jordan Link in Visalia. "Without the training, I wouldn't know how to talk with them."

Bob Patel, who is also with Century 21 Jordan-Link & Company, agreed.

"Agents with the designation get involved with the senior community, since they have to know what a senior is going through when they decide to sell their home" he said, referencing not only the mixed emotions homeowners have when selling a home where they raised a family, but also where they will be moving to if they are downsizing or moving to an independent or assisted living facility.

And then there are the adult children of the homeowner, who may be placing their mom or dad someplace because they don't have an option.

"The kicker is the agent will know what the senior is going through and have a network they can contact to get special information a family might need," he said.

Nellie Pena is also an SRES certified agent with Jordan Link and is 73 years old. She added her concern for the vulnerability of seniors.

"I (became an SRES agent) because I know seniors that have been taken advantage of," she said. "We help them to sell their home, we help them to move to their new location. We do things for them that a typical broker won't."

Patel said such things might include helping seniors with holding an estate sale, packing and marking moving boxes, and working closely with the senior and their family to develop a trusting relationship.

Agents earn an SRES certification by completing a course that covers far more than the sale of a house. Course topics include generational characteristics of demographic groupings in the 50 plus market; housing options, including active-adult communities, aging in place and assisted living; and developing a team of experts and service providers for clients ages 50 plus.

With nearly 200,000 residents of Kings, Tulare and southern Fresno counties over the age of 50, why aren't there more SRES certified agents? While the NAR stated it is actively recruiting agents to the SRES designation, both Pena and Faubel agreed there is a need to understand this exploding market.

"I don't understand why there aren't more," said Pena. "I'm just glad I'm one."

Faubel, who will turn 50 soon, said she sees the shortage as a problem. "Agents come and go and aren't willing to take time to learn how to work with seniors," she said.

To find an SRES agent, visit


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