We understand. We would like to be your partner managing this overall process which will take some time and have many steps. It takes some patience on your part, but we’ve been through it many times and will be your guide.
The first steps are to assess your situation and come up with a plan. We can get started with a phone call and probably a home visit so we can listen carefully to understand the needs of you and your family. Then we will present you with a proposal tailored for your family’s situation.
Email us at [email protected] or call us at (877) 678 – RELO (7356).
We often work with families with an elderly parent who has either passed away or is seeking to adjust their lifestyle to better enjoy elderhood.
So many of the things that were important when raising a family are now more of a burden than a blessing – the large house, the many possessions. We help right-size for an appropriate end-of-lifestyle.
The typical job involves
- Establishing suitable living arrangements for the elder
- Moving to a new home or upgrading the current home to accommodate elderhood
- Conducting an estate or tag sale
- Removing all the items in the house (a “cleanout”)
- Staging, prepping and selling the house
For many families, the house is its major store of value. If your plan involves selling the house, we want you to get the best price for the house possible by putting it on the market at the most appropriate time in the best possible condition.
We will work with you to get the best value of your possessions, using the most economically appropriate approaches, whether that’s an estate sale, tag sale, garage sale, or online selling. They may have market value, but it’s usually a fraction of their original value. We also help liquidate -- by giving the possessions away to family members or donating them to charities. Be prepared to be a little disappointed, but neither of us will get rich selling your possessions. Keep your eye on the much bigger prize: selling the house for top dollar.
Operation Relo gets the home in its best possible state of marketability for the cost. Our teams of tradespeople can handle any job from cosmetic improvements like painting and carpeting to functional tasks like a new furnace, kitchen or bathroom. Then, when it’s time to market it, we make sure it’s clean, smelling great and staged to make your buyers anxious to give you an attractive offer.
We also work with families to find suitable new facilities for the elders, and we move them as well. This often involves providing a variety of services. We don’t practice medicine, law, psychology, or counseling per se, but we do coach families through these stressful processes. And we have relationships with attorneys, practitioners and counselors who are licensed and accomplished.
It starts with a text or an email that leads to a phone call, where we discuss your situation, the house, and your timeframe. From there, we schedule a walk-through of the house, where we get a better understanding of whether an estate sale will make economic sense. We discuss needed home repair work with you and your realtor if you have one. If not, we can recommend one for you. Then we submit a proposal. Depending on the complexity of the project that proposal may have firm prices, estimates, or requests for more information gathering. The work is often broken down into waves because some tasks we want to get going on immediately and others reveal themselves as the project unfolds.
We plan with your desired completion date in mind, which will be based on your personal goals and considerations of the market. From there, we plan backwards, developing a comprehensive multi-step plan.
Last thought: If we do end up proposing an estate sale, we like to lock in a realistic date quickly because that event will drive the timing of many of the other activities.
First and foremost, we need to connect with the person who has the authority to make decisions. This is most often one of the children of the elder. At times, that person is the elder themselves, which we can accommodate, but it is not the preferred arrangement, because that elder will be under incredible amounts of stress causing the transition to be even more challenging.
Then we would like to connect with the important influencers. This often is a family member or local friend, especially when the person with decision making authority is out of town. In those cases, we often provide local management.
We also like to connect with other people you trust such as a family attorney, accountant, or doctor … maybe even a priest, minister or rabbi. We like to make contact with those people because this is a difficult process emotionally and financially. There are many scary stories and warnings out there in the press, and we want to be watched over by people you trust, especially if they aren’t emotionally involved like family members are. We won’t take up a lot of their (often billable) time, but we would like them involved to give us all better peace of mind.
When your project gets started, we establish ground rules, communication methods, and a way to conveniently access to the property. to make the project go smoothly. We prefer brief, simple, written agreements, but will often work on a handshake if you prefer.
For the majority of families with elders, the largest store of wealth that you can influence is the home itself, when it is owned.
This may be counter-intuitive to how many families think. They remember how Mom or Dad treasured the china, silverware, the old Hummel figurines or other old furnishings. But the new generations have different lifestyles. They don’t hold dinner parties. They don’t dole out eggnog from large, cut-glass, crystal bowls. They don’t want silver (especially plated) that must be polished or delicate paper-thin plates that won’t survive the dishwasher.
Focus on the house, making it attractive to a young buyer. Many 3-bedroom homes owned by elders are perfect fits for young couples looking for a starter home for their first couple of babies. Make the house appeal to someone like that, who has an IKEA mentality – clean, simple, charming.
For most households, the swing in value of properly selling the household possessions goes up or down by +/- several hundred dollars, maybe several thousand dollars at most. The swing on properly preparing a house and selling it at the right time is typically in the +/- tens-of-thousands of dollars.
We use the metaphor – the possessions are the tail, and the house is the dog. Don’t let your tail wag the dog. Focus on the house.
Operation Relo will get your house in shape to get the top dollar. Our principle is that for every dollar you spend with us on repairs, you should expect to get $3.00 back, or we won’t recommend it.
Many elders prefer to stay in their homes. The home is a familiar place. They instinctively can find every doorknob, light switch and item in the back of a kitchen drawer. They can walk the house at night and know where every creaky floorboard will make a noise.
But familiarity doesn’t always equate to safety. For example. stairs can be hard to navigate for people using canes. Beds that are more than 30” off the ground are unnecessarily dangerous. Older eyes need brighter lights, and bathrooms need to reduce the likelihood of falls using non-slip surfaces and shower stalls that are easier to access.
If the family decides the elder will stay in their homes, that’s great, but the home should be modified to accommodate the needs of the senior, rather than having the elder struggle with a home designed for a new family getting ready to raise a brood of children. This may involve getting a first-floor bedroom set up as well as installing strategic grab bars and other improvements to lighting and plumbing.
Our team has experience doing work recommended by HHS (Health and Human Services, Administration for Aging) projects including grab bars, ramps, plumbing and lighting improvements and all the things required to make homes safer for seniors.
Let’s go through our comprehensive elder checklist together to make the home a safer place.
“Cleanout” is an industry term for a job that involves removing every item in the house, often with the intent of creating a fresh slate for the next occupant. Many well lived in homes have accumulated huge amounts of stuff, jammed into every nook and cranny of the house. You might be surprised to learn that many older homes contain between over 5 tons of old broken stuff that must be trashed. That’s why this type of job is also called a trash out. As a rule, new owners want all of that stuff removed as a condition of purchase.
Sometimes the children feel it’s their duty to do this on their own. It may be part of the culture of rugged individualism … or maybe it comes from a parochial childhood that bred in a gnawing sense of guilt. Whatever the cause, cleanouts are brutal jobs, especially if you have sentimental value for many of the items in the house.
A typical situation involves a daughter taking charge. She gets a dumpster in the driveway and starts to fill garbage bags with old clothes and letters. The other siblings are often indisposed, or perhaps out of town. It takes her several hours and many tears to just fill a few trash bags, and then she leaves, emotionally and physically exhausted. This may go on for months. Often it goes on for more than a year.
Operation Relo is like a magic wand. Our seasoned crews quickly and efficiently remove the items from the house, in a fraction of the time it will take a family member. We are sympathetic, but dispassionate when family members cannot be.
The first priority is to place items of value – especially those with sentimental value – with family members and close friends. We have trucks and crew who can move them to family.
We also sell the possessions to get the top dollar using a variety of methods. You get some of the proceeds, and your items find a new home. It costs money to conduct a sale and we share those costs together.
We also give items to charity, whether that be your local religious organization or public charities like Habitat for Humanity, Veterans for America, Goodwill or Salvation Army. Unsellable items are disposed of properly -- we do our best to recycle them or place them in landfills run by reputable, licensed companies.
Cleanouts and moves We quote the job price based on the estimated number of hours, tonnage to be moved, and the miles driven. Many times, there are special considerations including exceptionally heavy or fragile items and environmentally sensitive materials which may involve insurance charges. Hoarder homes and homes with known viral exposure carry surcharges.
Estate sales and tag sales are structured with a revenue share and a cost pass-through. We split the revenues for the sale, and in order to ensure our incentives are aligned, we pass through the costs of running the sale. Most of these costs are the labor associated with the sale, advertising, and security costs, if needed. There may also be a charge for homeowner’s insurance if it has not been maintained on the home.
Repairs are quoted for each piece of work.
Our trucks and crews are available for hire with standard day rates.
A range of storage options are available. The rates depend on the how much you are storing, the degree of climate control needed, and level of access you require. On the high end, 24/7 in controlled access is the most expensive. The least expensive alternative involves putting your items on pallets and shrink wrapping them so they can be stored on shelving units. You’ll also need to make an appointment when you want to retrieve your valuables, but you’ll get a much better monthly rate.We’ll work with you to get your best option.
Coaching, Consulting and Management fees. We employ people with a diverse set of talents. Sometimes we’re advising you on lifestyle issues. Other times we’re working through financing options. Still other times, we’re sorting through your family’s items and packing them up for safe transport. We charge an hourly market-based fee for these activities which will be identified in the proposal.
Management fees. In the event that we are managing a large set of activities, especially if financing is involved, we will charge a management fee to cover our time.
Perhaps you were looking for a single number, and we can’t really provide that without understanding your circumstances. We’re sorry if that frustrates you.
We know that so many people these days don’t want to talk on the phone, but it really is the best way to give you the answers you need.
Call us:(877) 678 – 7356 (RELO)
Email us to set up a call: [email protected]
Text us to set up a call: (216) 250 – 4900
Fax us: (216) 250 - 4999
We will develop – for free – an estimate of what it will cost for a plan within your budget.
Most of life’s transitions – whether they be births, graduations, weddings, or moves –carry one-time costs that are higher than most of us spend in a normal month. We recognize that and will work with you.
Our credit policy is to break up the payments in pieces. We ask for a a portion of the project cost upon acceptance of the proposal, another payment as we begin the work and the final payment when the work is completed. We accept cash, certified checks and credit cards..
That’s not always an option for every family. Sometimes there is equity in the house, but not much in the bank account. Other times, the family members just don’t want to be the ones who has to start writing checks. Still other times, the estate is facing foreclosure. We’ve had experience with each of these situations and will work resourcefully with you to put together a plan to get you through these situations.
Many of our clients do some of the downsizing themselves. Usually this starts by sorting through old boxes, removing jewelry, or emptying attics. Often, they invite friends and family to retrieve or buy items. This is a great start, but usually just the very tip of the project’s iceberg.
DIY folks can do their own garage sales. They can also pack and move the elders. They can clean out the house using rented trucks or pickups from friends. They can make multiple dump runs. They can spackle and paint the walls, buff the floors, repair the trim, replace the plumbing fixtures, and tame the landscaping. They can recruit free help from church groups, family, friends and neighbors. If you can’t get them to work for free, you can also advertise on Craigslist.
Managing it all yourself will be somewhat less expensive, especially if you don’t assign value to your time or that of your family members. But will take months or more. We will take weeks or less.
As a rule of thumb, possessions are worth what a willing buyer will pay you for them within the timeframe that you want to sell them. The term for this is “market value.”
Many people think their possessions are worth more than what the market is willing to offer them for it. They are possibly confusing market value with:
- The original purchase price. This is a nice reference point, but almost everything depreciates in value over time. For example, it’s commonly reported that the minute a new car is driven off a dealer’s lot, its market value drops by 20%, and it goes down from there.
- Replacement value. Next consider, if you had to buy a brand new one how much would it cost? In today’s economy, very often technology advances and global manufacturing have made it possible to buy new versions of an item for far less than you paid for it, and usually, it works better! For example, today’s flat screen televisions are larger, cheaper and better than those made only 5 years ago.
- Sentimental value. With rare exceptions, the market doesn’t value the memories associated with anyone’s possessions. In general, if you think it’s worth more than what the market will pay for it, then keep it or store it.
Willing buyers come and go from the market every minute. It’s like the stock market. One minute, IBM stock is worth $100, the next it may be worth $80 or then $120. There is no set fixed price on market value for any given asset, but there are ways to estimate the ranges you may be expected to get.
- Comparable Sales. How much has a similar item sold for in your area within the last few months? Note this is not the price that a similar item was listed for on a popular site like eBay. Many items listed for sale online eventually sell end up selling for 30% less than list.
- Family. Ask your children (or grandchildren), if they want the item. Hypothetically, how much would they give you for it? They will likely place a higher value on the item than the market since they impute some sentimental value to it that the market does not. But if they don’t want it, that can give you a read on what the broader market will tell you.
- Current Market Alternatives. If you were to buy a new version of this, how much would it cost? Then ask, does that new version work better than your item does? That old 52” plasma TV that cost you $2,000 in 2007 can now be replaced by a much lighter LED 60“ LED with a sharper picture for $350.
- Condition of the Asset. Certain furniture items and collectibles do attract the interest of collectors who may pay top dollar, but since there are so many items in the market, they usually will only buy items in mint condition. Honestly assess the condition of your item. If it was ever broken – even if repaired – it has much less appeal, and they will know.
- Does it work? If the riding mower has been in the garage for over five years, you need to consider the cost of getting the asset back in working condition. Many people collected clocks -- grandfather clocks were particularly popular a while back, but many of them don’t chime anymore. There is some market for clocks that don’t work, but collectors usually want them in working condition, and there aren’t many people who can keep old clocks running anymore.
This is a difficult job to do across the many items that you have in your home. There are usually a handful that you most want to watch. It’s a good idea to identify them up front.
Almost always, yes you do. When we are conducting tag sales on your property, your homeowner’s insurance must be maintained. If that’s not possible, we can secure some for you.
We carry insurance for property in our possession (including storage), collision, comprehensive and liability with a well-recognized insurance company.
This is a complicated, emotional, frequently changing process. Experience has shown paying attention to four key factors will smooth the process considerably.
- Protecting the seniors. Ideally, they are relocated to a safe place early in the process. If not, they will need help to deal with all that’s happening. If they’re still in the home, it can be dangerous for them, as they are living in a work zone with their home possessions rearranged in an unfamiliar way. During the day heavy objects are being moving around by strangers, albeit friendly strangers. They also significantly slow down the process, especially if they have hoarder tendencies. We recommend employing one of our Empaths. See Elder Services & Coaching.
- Family coordination. Family dynamics can be challenging, and it helps to have one accessible leader. Sometimes various members try to be overly helpful; other times they move in diametrically opposed directions. We’ve had family members come to the house mid-project removing items after hours. We’ve also received multiple conflicting orders from different family members. This makes things difficult to sort out.
- Clear communication. As much as possible we try to get things in writing, but that’s usually not possible given the thousands of decisions being made constantly. Verbal orders under stress are often mis-remembered after the fact. Ensure items being sorted are properly tagged. Err on the side of over-communication. Email records also help.
- Realistic timelines. We have been put in situations where a house must be cleared more quickly than is reasonable. When you try to put 10 pounds of work into a 5-pound bag, that bag will split. That applies to all parts of the project: items being sold will get lower prices; items in home are more often mis-labeled and sent to the wrong location; working during the dark hours can cause accidents. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, and we strive to do whatever it takes, our credo, but if you’re asking for the impossible, expect a few bumps along the way.
Yes. We have a business services bond covering our employees with a well-recognized insurance company.
We’ve lived through this ourselves, which inspired our motto -- Whatever It Takes. But of course, there are practical limits.
- We will not do anything illegal. There are a complex set of laws and ethical guidelines designed to protect the elders and their families. We applaud the spirit of those guidelines, but they can actually hurt those they are trying to protect. We provide our sincere best efforts to help families get through these transitions intact.
- We will use our best judgement in support of public health -- including guidance on quarantines and social distancing – while also working to efficiently resolve your situation. There are a lot of gray areas out there.
- We will try not to violate any ethical standards of social workers or medical organizations. Many of the groups we coordinate with have their own ethical guidelines, including advocacy and legal codes that can be confusing to well-intentioned family members. We aren’t bound by any one organization’s edicts or standards. We do our best to transparently navigate the various guidelines toward the best outcome possible for the family unit. We consider our “client” to be the family, not necessary the elders or the children or one of the children.
- We can’t work for free. We have families of our own to feed. So, while we will turn every stone to find innovative ways to help you fund projects, we need to be paid. That wouldn’t be fair to our families.
Lastly, we recognize families are under enormous stress and pressure during these transitions – and they often are not at their best. We will attempt to defuse antagonistic behavior as quickly as possible, especially when it threatens a family’s successful transition.
Occasionally an important person involved in the transition may become nasty, even threatening, unruly and obstinate. Unfortunately, we’ve seen it all. We will try to address and change that uncooperative behavior, but if that’s not possible, we will walk away, as much as we dislike doing that to any client.
Yes. If you are the kind of person who wants to ease the burden on your family members after you’ve passed, we have plans to reduce the stressful impact by gradually addressing all of the strains that will need to be addressed. Just like you can pre-pay for funerals, you can pre-pay for settling your estate.
It’s a lot easier when you have more time if you contact us before it’s an emergency situation.
Different people reach out at different times.
- Very often a spouse or parent has passed. These are urgent projects.
- Other times, the elder has had a health scare – perhaps a fall – and the family realizes it’s no longer safe for her to live alone.
- Perhaps a friend or co-worker has recently described their experience to you, and it gets you thinking about your own situation.
- Occasionally a doctor will suggest you start looking.
Many of our clients tell us they came to the conclusion at a family gathering … Thanksgiving, a wedding or maybe a summer barbeque. The kids and cousins are all enjoying each other’s company, and they get to talking.
- “I’m worried. Mom is getting old. How many more of these get-togethers are we going to have with all of us together like this?”
- “How the heck are we going to deal with all this stuff when the inevitable happens?”
- “Agreed. This house is packed with stuff, and I don’t want any of it. Maybe just that antique chess set, but nothing else.”
The rule of thumb is that the more time you have to plan and make the transition, the easier it will be on everybody.
We can work with you to develop a plan that reflects the wishes of the family. It may involve a move, or it may keep the elder in place until it’s no longer safe to do so. The goal is to make everything copacetic, so you can continue to enjoy all those precious moments.
We’re here to talk today at [email protected] or call us at (877) 678- RELO (7356).