Northwest Suburbs Mirror National Senior Homeownership Trends

Ramona Schimka
Updated 5/13/2016 8:17 PM
  • MORe logo

    MORe logo

As the suburban population of senior homeowners grows, it's important for older homeowners and their loved ones to be mindful of best practices that can help ensure that they live safe, healthy and prosperous lives in their homes.

Downers Grove-based Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS (MORe), an organization of 15,000 REALTORS and affiliates in the Northwest, West and South suburbs, has a dedicated committee referred to as the Senior Services Task Force who work toward raising awareness of issues facing older homeowners. With a mission of "service over self," all Senior Services Task Force members have received training on best practices for helping seniors connect with the proper housing solution for their specific need. In many cases this includes aging in place.

According to a recent McGraw-Hill Construction report, the number of people 55 and older who are in the market to buy or sell a home has increased by 50 percent in the last two decades. Supporting this trend, an AARP study on aging in place found that nearly 90 percent of respondents older than 65 said that they want to live in their own home as long as possible.

The appeal of aging in place is undeniable. As the population of older Americans increases and society better accommodates their needs, so too will their desire to live a life of independence.

There are facets of aging in place for which older homeowners may want to consult with experts. For example, questions of how to declutter, what type of home is best and how to avoid scams aimed at seniors will be part of free, annual local forums that MORe is hosting in May. MORe's first free Senior Expo was May 5 in Arlington Heights and the second Senior Expo is happening on Wednesday, May 25, in Downers Grove.

Both forums will feature these speakers and topics:

Jennifer Prell from Cary-based Elderwerks, a senior housing resource, and Paxem, a Cary moving company dedicated to seniors, who will speak about decluttering and aging in place; Berenice Martinez, community outreach liaison from the Illinois attorney general's office, who will provide information on senior fraud protection and prevention; and Pete Furlong, with Stay Renovations of Libertyville, a specialist in senior home modification, who will provide simple steps for aging in place.

A Helping Hand

Prell, founder of Paxem Inc., the senior move-management and relocation company, knows all too well the often intimidating number of considerations about which older homeowners and their family members have to be mindful.

"I hear time and time again from older homeowners that they value the independence of living in their own home, but that they worry that they won't have access to the support they need," said Prell. "What tends to put them at ease -- and their loved ones at ease -- is when they learn about the level of professional assistance that's available to older homeowners."

But knowing that support is available and actually taking advantage of it are two entirely different things, Prell added. For some older homeowners, the independence they seek by continuing to live at home seems incompatible with the idea of asking others for help.

"I think some older homeowners see asking for help as a sign of weakness, which couldn't be further from the truth," said Prell. "Taking advantage of expertise specifically targeted to older Americans, such as Seniors Real Estate Specialists, is crucial."

Seniors Real Estate Specialists are REALTORS certified by the National Association of REALTORS for their advanced level of service to people 50 or older. "Reaching out to experts demonstrates a commitment to finding a home that will let older homeowners age in place for years to come," she said.


Over the years, people accumulate possessions around their homes. Beyond being aesthetically unappealing and taking up space, clutter also can pose serious health risks. Piled items can fall on homeowners; clutter can impede easy access around the home; and, clutter can create a fire hazard.

Prell urges older homeowners to think about which possessions in a home are truly necessary and which are simply clutter.

"Over the years, it's perfectly understandable to accumulate stuff, much of it with no practical value," said Prell. "It's always a good idea to scale back the number of things you have in a home and simplify, especially as you get older."

Preventing Senior Fraud

According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission, in 2013 close to 27 percent of consumer fraud complaints came from people 60 or older. Sobering as that statistic is, many experts say that the number of seniors scammed is probably higher.

"Whether out of embarrassment or of the belief that no one can help them, people of all ages who have been the victims of fraud commonly neglect to inform authorities," said Linda Dressler, of RE/MAX Suburban in Schaumburg and a member of MORe's Senior Services Task Force. "With seniors that's sadly true as well. When we work with older homeowners, we emphasize two things: first, there's no shame in being scammed, and second, a few proactive steps can help guard against many common scams."

Aging in Place

Kevin Casey of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Hinsdale knows the importance of giving older homeowners who want to age in place unique attention. A member of MORe's Senior Services Task Force, Casey often works with older clients who are looking to buy homes.

"It's important for older homeowners and their loved ones to know that a REALTOR is going to do more for them than help them buy or sell a home," said Casey. "They're going to find every homebuyer a home that's uniquely suited to their needs. REALTORS are experts in their community. REALTORS can help senior homebuyers find dependable transportation, help them arrange specialized moving assistance, provide an outlook on the state of the housing market in their community and connect them with other experts."

Aging in place, noted Casey, is about more than continuing to live in your home after a certain age.

"It's important for older homeowners to have the same level of access to their community that people of any other age enjoy," said Casey. "We help seniors gain that access and ensure it is not diminished."

Preventing senior fraud remains a top priority, too. For this reason, Berenice Martinez, Community Outreach Liaison-Latino Affairs, from the Illinois attorney general's office, will speak at MORe's two Senior Expos in May to teach attendees how they can guard themselves against common scams.

For More Details on Senior Housing Expos


Free Senior Expo, featuring seminars that addresses the needs of those age 50 and older and their families

When and Where:

9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25th

6655 Main St.

Downers Grove, IL


Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS' Senior Services Task Force, in honor of Older Americans Month.


Free. Refreshments provided.

Panel Topics:

• Senior Fraud Protection and Prevention

• Decluttering from A to Z

• Simple Steps for Aging in Place

• Real Estate Market Panel

More Info:

(630) 324-8400