Retirement agents cater for a niche market

Retirement agents cater for a niche market

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer

When it comes to buyers who are in the market for retirement homes, agents need to have endless stores of patience and empathy, as well as a good understanding of the different kinds of retirement home options available.

Estate agents with the necessary knowledge and experience in the retirement market can go a long way towards making the move from family home to retirement home a pleasant experience for retirees - instead of one fraught with anxiety.


The percentage of older people in the population is increasing because South Africans are healthier and so are living longer. However, the country has some way to go towards satisfying the need for retirement villages and complexes.

Also, many retired people are finding that moving into a retirement facility may not be possible. Most of the popular retirement complexes in South Africa already have long waiting lists, with those for the more sought-after developments often extending to 15 or 20 years. This means that older people may be obliged to stay in their existing homes or downsize to a smaller home in a complex that accommodates people of all ages.

Deciding which option is best isn’t always easy, especially if you are elderly and perhaps not in the best of health. Very often, children are also involved in the decision making process, which can create further pressure. A knowledgeable estate agent can be invaluable in helping families work through all the options to find the most suitable home for retirement.

What retirees look for

Whereas younger buyers generally look for homes in areas with good schools and shopping and entertainment facilities, the key attractions for retirees tend to be:

• Care centres and medical services provided by specialist healthcare providers.

• Facilities such as housekeeping, laundry, cleaning and gardening services.

• Social amenities such as a clubhouse with a restaurant or a coffee shop, a library, a private TV room, indoor and outdoor socialising areas and a gym.

• Transport for residents.

They also need advice on the various retirement home ownership options. Agents need to be able to explain the differences between life right and sectional title ownership, and to help older buyers decide which is best suited to their needs.

They also need to be able to point out the advantages and disadvantages of other options for retirement living. These include:

• Modifying an existing home to cater for infirmities. Installing a ramp at the front door or a stair lift to reach the upper level may be all the modifications needed to make an existing home suitable for retirement. Other possible aids could include a bath hoist or a built-in shower stool.

• Selling the family home and renting instead of buying. In this scenario, the clients would use the capital from the sale of their home to fund their rent and other expenses. The downside of this option is that they could run out of money before they die.

Big decision

Deciding between various home buying options can be stressful at any age, but at retirement age the decision can seem like an enormous hurdle to overcome. Agents who deal with older buyers making the move from large family homes to smaller retirement homes need to be able to empathise with their anxieties. They also need to be endlessly patient with hesitant clients who may seem to change their minds from one day to the next.

A skilled retirement specialist agent can help empower retired people to actualise whatever their preferred future might be – whether this entails moving to a retirement village, modifying their existing home to cater for infirmities or selling their family home and renting. But it takes a special kind of agent to be prepared to give elderly clients the personal attention they need to make the right choices.

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