CARBONDALE — The transition from a house to an assisted living facility can be a very daunting task. Besides the physical move itself, the question always arises of what to do with all of the stuff — the accumulation of years or decades of living in the same place.
Emily Zurlinden, of Carbondale, has the answer.
Her company, HomeWise Senior Relocation, helps people organize, plan, relocate and, when necessary, liquidate household and other items when the time comes for transition to a smaller lifestyle.
“We come in whenever people are looking to downsize and help them sort through things, determining what will fit and then help them dispose of all of the extra stuff that they’ve accumulated over 40 or 50 years of living in a house,” Zurlinden said.
She said the company’s forte is putting unwanted items up for sale through online auctions, handling all aspects of the internet-based sales.
“That’s what we do most of,” said Zurlinden, who has an Illinois auctioneer’s license. “We help them separate the terrible from the sellable, then we put like things in lots, upload descriptions and pictures to our website and then put them up for bidding for as many as ten days.”
Zurlinden says the online auctions benefit the sellers, whether they are individuals who are moving, just downsizing or heirs handling an estate.
“It’s easier for them to make money,” she said, contrasting the online auctions with rummage sales. “This way the market sets the price for you and there’s the opportunity for completion between bidders because sometimes two people will become stubborn and really want an item, driving the price up. At a rummage sale, if you price and item too low or two high, somebody really gets and deal or you don’t sell it at all.”
She says here company consults with sellers, prepares items for sale including taking pictures of items for the auction and handles pickup of sold items. She also promotes the online auctions through an email list and on social media. Plus, she has some regular customers.
“We probably have 50 to 60 people that consistently buy from every auction we have,” she said. “Plus we have an email list of 1,500 people.”
Zurlinden added that she targets marketing to specific groups, recalling a recent auction with a large number of Dept. 56 Christmas village collectibles. She promoted the auction to collector groups and sold items to buyers across the nation.
Items in the auctions range from housewares and collectibles to tools, furniture, antiques and sporting equipment. A recent auction included an all-terrain vehicle and an automobile. Auctions are usually posted one after another to make marketing and promotion easier, but Zurlinden says it is not unusual to have auctions running simultaneously. She says reaction to the service has been very positive.
“We hear all of the time, ‘Oh, I didn’t know there was a business like this. This is something that is so needed.’ They say, ‘When my aunt, mom, grandpa or someone passed away, we had such a hard time dealing with all of the stuff.’ The reaction and relief has been tremendous,” she said.
She added that many of her clients are surprised by the results.
“There’s usually more value in the items we sell than people realize and our customers are happy because they’re getting access to some great items and can shop in their pajamas. They can collect antiques or Pyrex or different things and they usually have to go through antique stores or go to estate sales, but with us, they can just get online and look through everything quickly and bid.”
Zurlinden says that many of her sales include a preview day so that potential bidders can get a look at items up for sale.
“That way they’re not hitting on something that they haven’t seen yet. That way they can be more comfortable in bidding,” she said.
She says it usually takes HomeWise Senior Relocation a few days to sort items and get pictures ready for posting online. Auctions typically run ten days with pick-up scheduled a few days after the sale closes.
“It’s a pretty quick turnaround,” she said.
Zurlinden says that her company serves “roughly I-64 and south,” but bidders come from all across the country. She adds that her auctions use a national service, so collectors can search auctions nationwide for particular items. And, she says, buyers never know what they’ll find on one of her auctions.
“It’s no stretch to say that there’s something for everyone,” she says.
Contact HomeWise Senior Relocation at www.homewise618.com or 618-513-1340.