Father-Daughter Team Specializes in Senior Market

Above, Susan Walters, left with her father, Edward Young

It takes a special kind of caring and attention to work exclusively with older clients, many of whom are widowed, with family scattered, and little or no experience in navigating contracts or finances on their own.

It’s what attracted retired jeweler Edward Young to a belated career in real estate in 1999 and his daughter, Susan Walters, a year later.

Young lived in Laguna Woods, a Southern California city that began as one of two Leisure World retirement communities in 1962 and has grown into a city of 17,000, still largely populated by seniors.

But while Laguna Woods homes range from low-cost condos, co-ops, and apartments to free-standing homes valued at $1 million or more, strict financial qualifications must be met by every buyer.

“My Dad was aware that many single older people wanted to downsize and relocate to Laguna Woods,” said Walters. “But more than a few had never handled their own finances, much less bought property on their own before, and they had no idea how to begin.”

Young realized he was in a good position to help, Walters said, and the realization spurred him to become licensed and join Century 21 Rainbow Realty in Laguna Woods, where they have earned company awards for production ever since. 

Barbara Pronin: What enticed you to team with your father?

Susan Walters: I was a flight attendant with TWA years ago, so I was accustomed to dealing with the public. I missed that after many years at home raising a family—and in the first year of the business, I knew Dad needed help. He had more work than he could handle. So, I became licensed and joined him.

BP: Is your business mostly in sales?

SW: Yes, but also in property management. We have a lot of rentals and absentee owners.

BP: And your typical client is at retirement age or older?

SW: Generally, 65-plus—and often in their 80s or older. Most are still active though, and want to live independently in a senior community with an abundance of activities at their doorstep—everything from card games, book clubs, music and the arts to horseback riding and golf. But there are several Mutuals, or governing bodies here, each with their own set of rules and amenities, so our first concern is that our clients purchase in the one that’s best suited to their needs.

BP: You mean financially as well as physically?

SW: Yes. In today’s world, many seniors into their 80s or more are quite capable and confident. But some have never handled the family finances and require some help when they are ready to make the move to a senior community. We had one client recently who divorced her husband after 25 years and wanted to buy her own place. But she was totally inexperienced and needed a lot of help and patience to figure out her finances and make sure that Laguna Woods would be a good choice for her. Dad and I literally took her under our wing, made sure she understood what she needed to know, and helped her gain pre-approval to purchase in Laguna Woods Village. We found the perfect home for her, and she is so happy. It warms our hearts to know that her golden years will be spent surrounded by friends in a home she proudly owns on her own.

BP: It sounds like the two of you have chosen a rewarding niche.

SW: Yes, but there’s another side to working with a senor community. It takes a lot of compassion and empathy to help grieving families who want to sell a property after a parent passes away—and we need to be very familiar with trust and probate issues on the sell side.

BP: It sounds like an active market…

SW: Yes, and it’s very competitive. The average sales price is under $400,000, which is lower than the state average, so demand is typically high. It’s not unusual to see multiple offers, and a well-kept and updated space sells quickly.

BP: How do you and your Dad divide the workload?

SW: In the beginning, I think my Dad did 75 percent of the work, and I did 25 percent. Now, after 25 years working together, he mostly handles our back office and admin chores, while I do most of the legwork.

BP:   Are you open to growing your team?

SW: Not at this moment. There are a lot of sales agents in this market, which makes the work very competitive as well. Fortunately, much of our business is by referral. We did 23 transactions last year, and that kept us busy. We’re proud of the personal service we give to our clients. As long as Dad wants to keep working, we feel fortunate to be able to do that together.

Young and Woods Team Listing

Laguna Woods, California

A one-bedroom, one-bath co-op: Original condition cottage built in 1968. Beautiful approach and lovely views of trees, grass and flowers from the patio.


young walters listing

To contact Young email edyoung443@gmail.com and to contact Woods email susanbwalters@yahoo.com.

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