Moving, Downsizing, and Estate Sales – An Interview with Rex Norris of Caring Transitions
Today we are sharing an interview between Dr. Brad Stewart, Owner and Audiologist at ClearLife Hearing Care, and Rex Norris, owner of Caring Transitions in Denton and Collin County.
The changes in life that come with aging can be stressful and confusing, both for the senior and their family. This is the first installment in an interview series where talk with local experts in senior care services, answering many of the most challenging questions that seniors and their families have to deal with.
Brad: All right, Rex. Well, thank you for joining us today and hopefully we get a lot of good information for the folks. First of all, you’re with Caring Transitions. Tell me a little bit about what it is you guys do.
Rex: Well, Caring Transitions is actually the nation’s largest senior relocation, downsize and estate sale company. We have 160 offices nationwide and what makes us unique is that breadth of how many offices we have. But when we get down to the local level, each of us own our own office.
Rex: So it is more of the personal touch on a national scale. So what we do, we help seniors when they’re looking to move on with the next stage of their life, either downsize to a smaller house, assisted living, independent living, or memory care. We actually go in and pack the senior. We will get them moved. We load the truck. We get them moved and we unpack the senior. When we say unpack, everything is put away, the boxes, the trash is out of the apartment or the house, we hang their pictures, their drapes and their TVs.
Then we follow up with – what they can’t move with them, we liquidate and we do that through an estate sale or a moving sale, whatever we decide to call it. But when we’re done, their house is totally empty and they’re in their new home.
Brad: That’s great. So if a family is looking for that type of service, what are the questions that they should be asking?
Rex: Well, first question is, “Do they offer the full service from start to finish?” There are estate sale companies, there are senior move companies, but Caring Transitions is the only one that offers the full gamut of everything that it offers.
The next one is, especially if they’re looking only for a move manager, do they use their own employees? Are they W-2 employees or are they just day laborers, contract employees? The next question is, “What are the hidden costs?” What makes us different is that we offer clients a flat rate. The rate never goes up but it can go down. But when we leave a client with a proposal, they know exactly how much it’s going to cost.
There are no hidden fees. Our rates include all packing materials and everything that goes with our service. So they need to find out if they offer a flat rate. If they don’t, what their hourly costs are and what are the hidden costs, the additional cost at the end. That’s important when you have somebody move.
Are they used to working with seniors? That’s a key because as you know and I know, it takes a different person to work with a senior, meaning that you have to have time to allocate to them. You have to be understanding and it’s just very important that – a lot of move companies go in, load the truck, dump it off and you’re done.
Well, a good move manager or senior move manager doesn’t do that. They hold the senior’s hand all the way through the process or the family. It could be the family that’s moving. But we make sure from start to finish they work with the same manager and the same move team. We don’t change up people. So they’re familiar with the people.
So for a move company, it’s, “Are you insured? Do you have liability insurance, commercial insurance, workman’s comp insurance on your folks? Then are there any hidden fees?” The price that you’re quoting me, is that all I have to pay you? Because I’ve heard a lot – even our own competitors that turn around and say, “Well, we didn’t account for this. So there’s another fee on top.”
That’s important. At the end, they may think they’re getting a good deal upfront. But when they get you moving, they hold yourself hostage because they want more money. Then it’s a different game.
Brad: OK. I imagine that a lot of times when people are using this type of service, it might be because they recently had a fall or change in health and they’re needing to make a transition, possibly kind of quickly. What’s the turnaround time for the entire process for a move normally look like with you guys?
Rex: Let’s say that they have fallen and they’re going into assisted living. I just need actually a few days to get them on the schedule. We will come in and pack them in the morning, bring the truck in the same morning and have them all fully settled in one day.
For a full pack, if the senior wants us to pack them, move them, resettle them, and have a sale, I need two weeks and three days to get it all accomplished and be done. So moves are the easiest part. We normally – unless it’s two bedrooms, we normally can get them packed and moved all in the same day and get them resettled, so they’re living in their new apartment.
Brad: OK. Now as far as the estate sale and liquidation, that side of things, why would somebody choose to use a company like yours as opposed to just doing something on their own?
Rex: Boy, that’s pretty simple. If you want it done right, you go with the professional. When we do estate sales, I myself have 850 estate sale followers. Those are people that own consignment shops and they come in and buy from us because we offer good prices.
So advertising is huge. We advertise on six different estate sale websites. We have to pay to do that. Most people don’t do that. Most people think, “Well, I put an ad in a newspaper for a garage sale.” That’s what you get. You get an ad in the paper for a garage sale. Our sales usually bring a higher price because we’re used to pricing items for people to buy. The difference is we don’t negotiate. We get the customers coming through, and the price is the price.
So if you try to do all those things on your own, usually you run out of time. In a week, we can be ready for a sale on a full three-bedroom, two-bath house.
Then what I guarantee is that the house is empty with no additional costs. So if you try to do it yourself, you will have to know the pricing and that way you get a higher dollar value on your items. You also have to figure out, “OK, if it doesn’t sell, what do I do with them?”
We staff it with professional people. They’re uniformed. We use regular retail labels. So people are willing to come in to an environment where you have professionals run it, pay a little more than what you would do if you ran it yourself.
There’s a lot less negotiating going on at our sales. There is none. So they pay the price on the item.
Brad: A much more streamlined process it sounds like.
Rex: It is. Again, if I have five to eight days I can have your sale, have your house totally empty, and there’s nothing left for you to do.
Brad: OK. So how involved do you guys go – I’m sure you run into situations where there are family heirlooms and there may be things that are sentimental to some people in the family and there might be some conflicts or dispute there. I’m sure that there’s anxiety surrounding that when people get to this point and they’re making these decisions.
Brad: Where do you guys come into play there?
Rex: We’re actually a third party that has no vested interest in any of it. I’ve actually run into some situations in which the family was arguing over items. We resolved it. But because I’m not part of the family and I’m just a third party sounding board, I’m there to make the most money for the clients.
So I just defer – OK, we can do it this way. For instance, for the family that did not get along in a way and they were fighting. We went through and actually priced everything and the family members came in and bought it at that price.
Brad: Got you.
Rex: We had a special family sale and the family could come in. If there was an argument over a particular piece, which that happened too, we let them bid on it, see how much they wanted it. So that helps keep it down to a manageable thing. It doesn’t happen often, most families for the most part get along pretty well.
But it can happen. But we’re just a mediator. We’re there to satisfy everybody. What’s the best way to do this? Just to listen and say, “OK, this is what I’m hearing you guys say. These are options we can do, what works best for both of you?”
So there’s no more conflict because the one was worried that the other one wasn’t paying enough for a piece and so forth. So we say, OK, let’s get everything priced. We will have a special family sale. You guys can come in and buy what you want.
Brad: Well, thank you so much for sharing this. How can people find out more about you and your business and get connected with you online and possibly set up a consultation?
Rex: Yeah. We have a website and it is www.CaringTransitionsDCC.com or of course they can call on my phone and the number is 469-275-4875.
We offer free consults. We will go in and see what the family has. I get a lot of calls from families, a parent has passed away. The family has come in taking what they wanted and they want to have a sale. What I do is make sure they have enough for a sale because we’re not here to take their money. We’re here to help them through that time period that they’re grieving and they just need to get an empty house.
So that free consult says, OK, you have enough for a sale. This is what I recommend and these are your costs. If they don’t have a sale, like you, we network. We know people that will come in, charities that will pick it up and donate it and so forth. So that consult is important because we make sure they have something to sell and make sure they’re OK with it. So it’s important, integrity is high for us.
Brad: That’s great.
Rex: We treat them well.
Brad: Well thank you so much for sharing with us and I’m sure folks will be reaching out and asking you more questions.
Rex: Well, thank you for your time.