On the House: Agent helps seniors who are moving to downsize

Posted: February 24, 2013

Every time I complain to my 98-year-old aunt that, at 62-plus, I'm getting old, she replies, "You don't know what old is."

She's right. You're only as old as you feel. After chatting with 52-years-married John and Barbara Robbins, I no longer fear aging. It will be just fine.

About two years ago, after spending 47 of those 52 years in a house in the Far Northeast (near Franklin Mills), where they had reared a son and a daughter, the Robbinses decided it was time for a change.

They discovered quickly that real estate has changed mightily since 1962, and, what was even more critical, that the market in which they were planning to put their house up for sale was not one known for quick sales and good prices.

The couple already had decided on moving to an apartment at Ann's Choice in Warminster, one of 18 seniors communities in the country owned by Erickson Living.

Being on the community's "priority list" of residents, some of whom may be a few years away from moving there, gave the Robbinses access to a variety of services to get them up and running.

"They had a vendors' event for things we might need to move," John Robbins said. And they chose a real estate agent, Bob Misner of ReMax Properties Ltd. in Newtown, Bucks County, and a stager, Colleen Rosica, "to show us what we needed to do."

Rosica, an agent with Class-Harlan Real Estate in Doylestown, is Ann's Choice's personal moving consultant and shows clients how to downsize.

"We have these [vendors'] expos usually once but sometimes twice a year," Rosica said. On the list of preferred vendors are real estate agents, movers, painters, plumbers, and others with a proven record of working with seniors.

For instance, Rosica said, "real estate agents in our network are those who price it accurately from Day One" - rather than those who say, "Let's see what we can get."

Before a house even goes on the market, Rosica visits "to get her foot in the door," offering free advice on how to price it right and going room by room, asking questions and seeing what needs to be done to get the house ready for sale.

She measures the space in the sellers' new apartment at Ann's Choice as well as where they currently live, makes note of all the furniture, and - this impressed the Robbinses the most - crafts a floor plan on a magnetic board to show what they might have to let go.

"It takes a lot of the stress out of the move," said Rosica, although some people are attached to especially antique pieces, so she encourages them to rent storage bins, to allow after-moving-day decisions on what to do.

Barbara Robbins said it wasn't difficult to make choices since "we wanted some new things."

John, she said, had a hard time giving up his workshop, even though he says Ann's Choice has a very nice one.

"We gave his tools to my son and son-in-law," she said. "They only live in Warrington, so he can borrow them when he needs to."

On the House: Town by Town

In the Sunday Business section, Alan J. Heavens takes a look at real estate and life throughout the region. This week's focus: Logan Township.

Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com or @alheavens at Twitter.

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