A hand down: The business of downsizing

The prospect of downsizing can be a monumental task and unless it’s a decision you’re making of your own volition, can be an exercise in futility says Caroline Maurice of Estate Concierge in Burlington.

“What we see quite often is elderly people having their kids come in and get rid of their stuff. If they’re not actually downsizing it’s not really helping,” says the accomplished life coach and personal organizer. In these cases, Maurice recommends doing some clearing of clutter and organizing to bring favoured items to the forefront so they can be enjoyed.

“It’s easier when it’s not a family member” doing the tasks she goes on to say.

Maurice, who grew her Estate Concierge business with her husband, Mike, from their house cleaning business, Maid of all Work, says that she’s the first point of contact for those wishing to downsize their home, or family members who are assisting with the process.

That process starts with a meeting in which Maurice spends time with the client evaluating the situation at hand and gathering information about the homeowner. “What sets us apart is that we are customizing the service to what will be most beneficial for a client. Everyone is different,” she says, so whether it’s speed of completion, the care her team is taking, or whether the homeowner wants a lot or very little control, Maurice learns all about her client to adjust her services to meet their needs.

Once that understanding is established, Maurice prepares and proposes a plan. “Those are usually accepted,” she admits, but is happy to adjust the course of action and come up with other options as required. “This is where we startseeing where the stumbling blocks may be.”

From cleaning to handy work, sorting through papers to painting and staging, Maurice’s team can complete the entire process of downsizing, or just bits and pieces, depending on the client’s needs and wants. What she does advise, however, is for her clients to not spend time doing what she calls the “busy work” of cleaning and tidying. “Most people don’t have the perspective, information or experience to do this, so just call and find out what’s available to you.”

After years in the industry, Estate Concierge has amassed a network of complementary businesses that enables clients to access the most reputable services. Estate Concierge will take care of selling items of value, divesting to other family members, shipping contents within or outside of the country, or disposing using the most environmentally friendly process. Where possible, Estate Concierge provides a benefit to the community. This is achieved by donating directly to those in need.

The Maurices’ desire to help their clients is evident in everything they do. “We’re personally invested and always help our clients make the best choices for them,” she explains.

Unfortunately, “we see these cases when it’s almost too late,” Maurice begins, “because this generation is not seeking help. They’re quiet, they don’t share and they still hold on to the philosophy of things that are ‘not for children’s ears’.” As such, downsizing really can be the monumental task that many make it out to be. “They don’t move because it’s too daunting and they’re afraid of their family ransacking their estate. So they don’t bring up the change they want to happen. They’re afraid to give up control and of what they will lose. But it doesn’t have to be a difficult thing. It can be a happy thing.”

“People don’t take the steps to downsize because they see it as a loss,” Maurice says, “But I show them it’s not a loss, but rather a gain.” She understands it’s too much to do on your own and that’s where her help and guiding hand comes in. “I’m not someone who’s just getting rid of your stuff, that’s too emotionally charging.” She focuses instead on the positives of downsizing and the benefi ts it can have for a person. “It’s money well spent.”