Definition of "Empty Nester"

Mayra Connolly real estate agent

Written by

Mayra Connollyelite badge icon

William Raveis Real Estate - Duxbury

When you hear a real estate agent talking about a client that's an empty nester, it means said client suffers from empty nest syndrome.

But what is Empty nest syndrome?

Empty nest syndrome is how it’s popularly called the feeling of grief a parent feels when their offspring finally move out to “fly solo” and set up a “nest” of their own. Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical condition, but a memetic concept forged by associating birds and their nest, made to protect their eggs, which, when hatched, is abandoned by the baby birds.

After a lifelong of actively caring and nurturing the growth of their kids, people with empty nest syndrome (or empty nesters) – especially full-time mothers or fathers - find themselves feeling that a big part of their identity got stripped away. With a lot of free time on their hands, empty nesters might get depressed or feel in need of radically changing their lifestyle and finding hobbies to keep them occupied. In a larger sense, by seeing their sons and daughters leaving them, empty nesters tap into their own mortality, projecting a future where they will leave or be left in definitive.

So, in real estate, an empty nester can be someone who decides to downsize because their house became too big and too lonely or someone who decides to get a house as big but less “family oriented” so they can finally enjoy their hobbies without having to worry about their kids. Empty nesters can even be someone who decides to double down and call a real estate agent for help buying a second home where they could meet their kids halfway for some vacation time and profit off of it for the rest of the year. Just know that, when referring to a client as an empty nester, their motivation towards buying a house or selling a house are all related to the fact their children have just moved out to live by themselves, and they’ve been “left behind” suddenly discovering themselves “free” to do things differently and shake up their lives a little bit. Beware of the empty nesters moment and be empathetic to it. Empty nesters make great clients because they are generally willing to spend but it’s not their first rodeo either, so they’re not eager to close anything and will let real estate agents do their job.


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