Upmarket downsizers are hiring specialists to sell their treasures -- and drawing very enthusiastic crowds
Eileen Nesbitt, National Post
With so many empty nesters selling their homes and moving into city condos, and more and more long-time singles merging their households and moving in together, a thriving downsizing industry has developed to sell all the excess household bits and pieces that we all accumulate in our journey through life.
"Many of my clients who move from estates in neighbourhoods such as Rosedale, Forest Hill and Lytton Park and others recognize they need to reduce their belongings," says Elli Davis, renowned Toronto real estate agent. "That said, they also determine they may not want the hands-on hassle of having to co-ordinate their own content or estate sales, or may not have the expertise to do so. This is where a professional service is most advantageous."
In 1972, unknowingly prescient, Elli Davis' parents, Myrtle and Murray, established one of Toronto's first companies specializing in selling the contents of fine homes and estates. Today it's operated by husband-and-wife team Marc and Ivy Davis under the name Marc Davis and Associates. "Our childhood home in Forest Hill was the prototype," says Marc Davis, son of the founders. "When my parents sold their home to downsize to a condo, they discovered they needed to conduct a 'house sale' in order to dispose of excessive belongings. Their ultimate success and apparent expertise in valuing and selling fine items led them to start conducting similar sales for friends and acquaintances, who recognized the value of the service my parents provided. The rest is history. Our company has since conducted hundreds of wonderful sales across the GTA."
Another firm, the Contents Connection, established in 1989, offers a different solution to disposing of all, or part of, a home's contents. "We sell goods on consignment, in either the comfort of your own home as an organized content sale or in our own convenient 5,000-square-foot showroom, where the items will be prominently featured," says Wendy Teperman, who's co-owner with her husband, Stuart. "We don't want you to have to lift a finger when you're dealing with scaling back your home's contents. We'll do all the work for you."
Their retail showroom of quality consignment items carries varying styles from antique to modern, from grand pianos to teacups.
"We find that clients sometimes don't have enough actual home content to require a full-out home content sale," Ms. Teperman says. "So to service those people, we bring their individual items into our showroom and feature them with an assortment of other gorgeous pieces. New items arrive every day."
If you're looking to draw an enthusiastic group of content-sale goers to your doorstep for a one-day sale, the Next Move team of professionals might be the answer.
"Some days I issue as many as 500 tickets for a well-marketed public content sale," says company president Michael Liepner. "People are grateful to have us manage and carry out sales at their homes because they're organized, everything is priced, beautifully laid out and families feel they can trust me."
Established in 1995, the Next Move conducts more than 30 content and large estate sales every year in the greater Toronto area, providing a cost-effective, controlled manner in which to dispose of excess home contents.
"Most people feel a great sense of relief at being able to walk away from their home knowing that I'll entirely clear the house for them," Mr. Liepner says. "A clear house means a clear head."
The Next Move frequently posts upcoming public content sales on its Web site. There's also a hotline to find out details about upcoming sales.
And if the mere thought of figuring out how to downsize is overwhelming, there's a new company servicing the greater Toronto area that's prepared to guide clients through the steps involved in the transition. Changing Gears offers a variety of transition services, to help both seniors and their families manage downsizing. "With a positive approach and a compassionate manner, we can provide solid, tangible and practical services ensuring a comfortable and stress-free transition process," says Barbara Kennedy, founder of Changing Gears.
"When I was faced with moving my 86-year-old mother from her family home into a seniors' assisted-living facility, I encountered a lack of centralized information resources that could point me in all the right directions. It was frustrating. By developing Changing Gears, my company now assists people with all the steps involved in a transition, including, of course, downsizing the home."
Ms. Kennedy's team will host yard and estate sales and help with many other services involved in switching from one gear to another.