The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


March 15, 2014

Realtors adapt to changing senior market

JOHNSTOWN — If there’s one steadfast rule to helping those ages 50 and up find their next home in the region, it’s that many at or near retirement age aren’t looking for the same options that might have been coveted decades ago, said Sue Lease, co-owner of RE/Max Power Associates, 1748 Lyter Drive.

In an area when more than four out of 10 residents of Cambria and Somerset counties are 50 years or older, it’s a reason her office’s move to acquire Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation this year is a vital one, she said.

“One thing the classes taught us was not to stereotype,” Lease said, noting perceptions may be that a small, ranch-style home is the best fit for older area residents. “But in reality, there all different needs and desires.”

These days, extended family members are regular guests in homes that might have been occupied by empty-nesters years ago.

“Grandparents are now taking care of children while children of the grandparents work,” she said, adding that in some cases folks near retirement age are now caring for their own parents.

“Bill and I are 59 years old,” Lease said, referring to her husband and office co-owner. “Even though we’ve dealt with hundreds of over-50 clients, we both learned many things that helped us have an even better insight into how to help these people.

Originally developed by the Senior

Advantage Real Estate Council in 1997, the National Association of Realtors-recognized SRES designation touches on counseling strategies to help sellers and buyers plan head for life transitions, a National Association of Realtors website,, shows.

Realtors are taught to help those ages 50 and up on the ins and outs of reverse mortgages, key differences in housing options – such as age-in-place locations and assisted living – and how they can properly use pensions and 401(k) plans in real estate transactions, the site shows.

“As our clients mature, they have different goals and needs from those of younger consumers,” said Pat V. Combs, a Michigan-based real estate executive and former NAR president, in an Realtors association press release.

“Maybe (people) don’t have to move,” she said, noting that for some, options might be available to stay in their own homes, or at least “better fit” options in the same neighborhood.

Lease said their entire Lyter Drive office staff of agents, themselves included, have obtained the designation, including Tim and Shannon Louder and Erin Gavin.

Approximately 16,000 real estate professionals in North America have earned the designation, the National Association of Realtors’ SRES website shows.

In Cambria County, that also includes Re/Max Team Realtors owner Suzette Colvin and Patricia Hanley as well as Linda Howard from Howard Hanna Heritage Real Estate, a listing shows.

In Somerset County, Deborah Boyer of RE/MAX Premier Realtors and Rita Halverson of Northwood Realty Services have also obtained the SRES designation.

David Hurst is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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