Sandy Kantor, a top real estate agent in Tucson, Arizona, was helping a senior couple sell their home filled to the brim with clutter and paperwork when crisis struck.
“[The wife] was feeling overwhelmed to begin with and was trying to figure out how she was going to get through all of this, and a week after we signed the listing agreement her husband had a heart attack,” said Kantor, JD, SRES, CRS.
To get the job done, Kantor brought in her “wonderful helpers”—also known as Senior Move Managers—to assist during this stressful time. They spent hours on hours getting the house market-ready, and helping out when the husband returned from the hospital in frail condition.
Senior Move Managers are like the fairy godmothers of downsizing who can swoop in, whip your home into shape, and help you tackle daunting moves faster than you can say “bippity boppity boo.”
While your real estate agent handles marketing your home and the specifics of the transaction, Senior Move Managers are your friends in sorting, organizing, packing, decluttering and more.
Older adults and family members helping their parents downsize call on these experienced professionals for a variety of services, but whether you should hire one depends on your individual situation. Here we’ll break down all the details so you can make an informed decision based on your needs.
What Is a Senior Move Manager?
According to the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), Senior Move Management is “the profession that assists older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or aging in place.”
The Senior Move Manager title is a service mark owned by NASMM. To officially become a Senior Move Manager, an organization has to be a member of NASMM. NASMM members must:
Senior Move Management companies can also take special training and go above and beyond to prove their qualifications.
Those that go through the SMM-C (Senior Move Manager – Certified) certification process must take 9 courses covering safety, ethics, contracts and liability, the moving industry, aging in place, hoarding, dementia, memory and communication, plus show proof of 40 completed Senior Move Management projects.
Companies that earn the NASSM A+ Accreditation have gone through a rigorous peer review process to demonstrate the highest level of achievement and competency in the profession.
What Does A Senior Move Manager Help With?
Senior Move Managers serve as the conductors who orchestrate all the pieces of your challenging move—to the extent that you need them.
“They’re very, very patient with our seniors who are downsizing and feeling overwhelmed and threatened,” says Kantor.
You can count on them to:
- Help you declutter your home, sort through your belongings, and organize items that you want to sell, toss, or donate (decades of accumulated junk won’t scare them!)
- Get appraisals of personal property to sell items via auction, estate sale, buy-out or consignment
- Arrange for donation drop-offs and pick-ups
- Pack up your old place, unpack in your new place, or organize/supervise packing professionals
- Line up and oversee professional movers and moving services
- Coordinate the services of cleaners, painters, and maintenance professionals
- Create customized floor plans to illustrate how your furniture will fit into your new residence
- Ship and store your furniture, arrange for storage units
- Make downsizing possible by simplifying your possessions
- …and more! NASMM provides a full list of wide-ranging services, which will vary based on the individual company you choose to work with
Note: Senior Move Managers are different from the moving professionals you hire who come with a truck and load up all your stuff. Senior Move Managers won’t physically take your items from A to B but would, for example, arrange for local movers and supervise them on moving day.
How Much Does a Senior Move Manager Cost?
Some senior move managers charge by the hour. The hourly rate will vary based on the company and location, and may range anywhere from $40 to $125. Others bundle their services as a flat-fee package for the entire job.
What you pay will also depend on how much help you need. Senior move managers typically offer a menu of services. If you’d like assistance with decluttering but want to handle packing on your own, for example, then you’ll pay accordingly.
Before you hire a Senior Move Manager, you should ask about the way they charge and their fee rates so you can compare and contrast with other companies in your area.
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How Do You Find a Qualified Senior Move Manager?
With over 1,000 Senior Move Management companies across the globe, how can you find one that’s right for you in your neck of the woods?
First, you should talk to your real estate agent about whether they have connections with any local Senior Move Managers whom they trust. Your agent’s network is like a rolodex of vetted professionals, so first and foremost you should lean on their recommendations. As highlighted by Kantor’s experience, your real estate agent and Senior Move Manager can work in coordination to sell your house and simplify your move at the same time.
NASMM also provides an online Senior Move Manager search tool. Simply type in your ZIP code, and set your search to either a 50 or 100 mile radius. You can limit your search to include only NASMM A+ Accredited companies or Senior Move Managers with the SMM-C certification.
The search portal will dish up local Senior Move Management companies and list their phone number, email, website, join date and service area. The results will also show whether the company has any special accreditations or certifications.
How to Interview Senior Move Manager Candidates
By nature of the job, Senior Move Managers gain a high level of access to your property and belongings. You want to trust whoever you hire completely and feel comfortable inviting them into your personal space.
NASMM recommends the following interview questions to help vet Senior Move Managers before you hire them:
- How long have you been providing Senior Move Management services?
- Have you participated in any formal training programs?
- Are you fully insured for liability and workers’ compensation?
- How do you charge? (Fees should be provided in writing to the consumer or responsible party prior to providing services).
- Will you provide a written contract?
- Can you provide references?
- Are you a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM)?
You’ll also want to get a comprehensive overview of the services they offer—so make a list of your needs and cross reference it with your candidates. That way you’ll know who can offer the best package for your situation.
Is a Senior Move Manager Right For You?
Downsizing or making a big transition later in life isn’t always the smooth move you anticipated. It may be a rocky, stressful experience with surprises like sudden health scares throwing a wrench into your plans.
“Any kind of challenge can happen,” says Kantor.
All of the following could be reasons why you call on a Senior Move Manager to simplify your move:
- The thought of sorting through 30 years of clutter sends you into a panic
- You’re facing health issues that would make moving tasks like packing and sorting difficult
- You’re not in a position to take on the emotional and physical burdens of moving/downsizing
- You don’t have the help of nearby friends and family to fill in the gaps
Of course, the services of a Senior Move Manager will cost you (perhaps a pretty penny) so you want to weigh your options. If you choose to hire one, be sure to sign up for the right services for your needs to keep expenses down. Have a chat with your real estate agent about your individual situation before making a decision.