If you don’t know about Certified Senior Housing Professionals (CSHPs), you should! I didn’t know they existed until I met CSHP Freda Hamlett over the summer at a caregiver conference.

CSHPs are real estate agents who, like other realtors, earn their money when a house sells. What makes them special is their breath of knowledge about seniors and the experts who can help them when it’s time to move. CSHPs assess a senior’s immediate and long-term housing needs. They then bring in help, including (though certainly not limited to):

  • financial planning
  • assessment of health issues
  • home health options
  • placement in appropriate senior housing (assisted living, memory care, etc.)
  • packing or disposing of everything in the house
  • repairing, staging, and selling the house and
  • moving

Hamlett, a Cary, NC-based CSHP, earned her certification through the Senior Real Estate Institute (SREI). The certification provides CSHPs with “core competencies” necessary to work effectively with “older adults, senior living communities, and an array of service providers involved in late-life relocations,” according to the SREI. The training is rigorous and includes not only classroom work but also visiting senior housing facilities and meeting with home health companies, senior move managers, occupational therapists, and others.

One thing I found particularly striking is that Hamlett will not put a client’s house on the market until the client has a housing action plan. A house can sell the same day it goes on the market and that’s not good when the senior homeowner doesn’t know where she’s going next or is still on a waiting list to get into a facility.

There are only about 150 CSHPs in the United States. The SREI certification is relatively new can take a year to obtain. That’s why the Senior Real Estate Specialist designation — obtained through the National Association of Realtors — is a “diluted version” of the CSHP certification, Hamlett told me.

To find a CSHP in your area, visit the Senior Real Estate Institute website.