REALTORS® Help Keep Older Americans in their Homes

Senior couple meeting with agent

With a recovery in home prices and strong market conditions the housing market is beginning to show steady signs of improvement. Despite these positive signs many homeowners continue to struggle and face foreclosure. According to a recent AARP report, 1.5 million Americans over the age of 50 have lost their homes to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011, with older African Americans and Hispanics hit the hardest.

AARP also reported that millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than 3 million are at risk of losing their home. Older minorities are facing foreclosure rates that are almost double those faced by white borrowers in the same age group.

“REALTORS® care as much about keeping families in their homes as they do about helping them find the home of their dreams,” said Joanne Zettl, chair-elect of the Cleveland Area Board of REALTORS® (CABOR). “When someone loses their home to foreclosure, families, our communities, the housing market and our economy all suffer. REALTORS® are working hard to keep more people, especially older Americans in their homes.”

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has long urged lenders to take more aggressive steps to modify loans and keep struggling families in their homes.

“Significantly reducing monthly mortgage payments will help more families remain current on their mortgage and allow them to remain in their home, reducing the impact of foreclosures on families and local home prices,” said Zettl. “Loan modifications limit the losses incurred by homeowners, lenders, the federal government and taxpayers, which is good for everyone. The housing market has still not fully recovered and many more Americans will face foreclosure. We must do all we can keep homeowners in their homes.”

When staying in a home is not possible, a REALTOR® can help sellers navigate complicated real estate transactions, whether completing a short sale or finding a new home. According to CABOR, REALTORS® have access to advanced educational opportunities and training in real estate specialties, specifically short sales and foreclosures, as well as the senior market.

REALTORS® who have earned the Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification have advanced training in managing the complexities of transactions that involve foreclosed homes and short sales. The SFR certification is the only one of its kind that focuses on both the buyer and seller sides of distressed property transactions.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation educates REALTORS® on how to best serve the real estate needs of Americans over the age of 50 – the fastest growing market in real estate. Seniors are buying and selling for a variety of reasons that include being closer to family, living out post-retirement dreams and addressing health concerns.

“Understanding the life circumstances and motivating factors for why seniors move and having the ability to counsel these clients on their options is a distinction that sets a REALTOR® apart from the pack,” said Zettl. “Buying and selling a home can be an emotional process, and REALTORS® can be trusted to stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues that are most important to their clients.”

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