Blanche Lukes, a Realtor with RE/MAX Renaissance Realty, leads a seminar on selling homes at the Thunderbird Retirement Resort in Glendale Monday.

Nick Cote/Daily News-Sun

Back in 1994, Realtor Blanche Lukes was living in Arizona and preparing to move her mother from their family home in Chicago.

“My mother and father lived in a home built in 1936,” she said. “My mother was in that home for nearly 60 years by the time she was ready to leave.”

And in that home, she said, was six decades’ worth of possessions, all of which had to be dealt with before she could make the transition.

“My brother and I brought her to Phoenix, to an independent living facility, and she loved it,” Lukes said. “But the weekend we spent in Chicago getting her moved out was tough.”

Lukes was on hand at the Thunderbird Retirement Resort in Glendale along with Robin Adrihan, owner of Smooth Transitions of the Valley, for a seminar aimed at seniors looking to downsize or to sell their homes.

Lukes, who works with RE/MAX Renaissance Realty in Peoria, said seniors looking to sell should find a Realtor with a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation.

“Realtors with that SRES designation have been given special training to deal with seniors,” she said. “They have that experience.”

She also said seniors preparing to sell a home should consider having friend or family member present when any big decisions are being made.

“You need to have an advocate,” she said. “A family member, even an attorney, someone who can offer some guidance or even act in your place if you fall ill.”

Lukes said anyone hoping to learn the secret to quickly selling a home will be disappointed.

“There is no magic formula,” she said. “The two biggest factors will always be the condition of the home and the asking price.”

Adrihan said her business is all about downsizing, often in preparation for the move to assisted living facilities.

“We’re a senior move management company, and that’s a fairly new industry,” she said. “We do more than regular movers because this is not just a move, it is a life transition. People are giving up things with a lot of memories attached to them.”

First and foremost, whether a person decides to hire a company like Smooth Transitions or do the job on their own, Adrihan recommended getting an early start.

She also said those getting ready to move should compartmentalize the job.

“Work one room at a time,” she said. “Stay focused, you’ll see the progress you’re making and that will kind of spur you along.”

Adrihan said the best place to begin is the room least frequented.

“Start in the room where you have the least emotional attachment, say, the garage or a guest bedroom,” she said. “It will be easier to let go of those things, and you’ll probably find quite a few items that can be sold or donated.”

She said most people can get rid of nearly everything in their kitchen, as assisted living facilities typically prepare meals.

“Instead of a drawer full of things, you’ll probably be fine with two or three of each item,” she said. “And will you need that toaster oven? That big coffeemaker?”

As for what to do with the items that will have to go, Adrihan said the most popular choices are to find a family member to give the item as a gift, to donate it or to sell it.

“For selling, estate sales are the best option,” she said. “They seem to be the way for the client to make the most money.”

Adrihan said if a person prepares well ahead of time the downsizing process does not have to be stressful.

“It’s an emotional time, because it’s an entire lifetime you’re having to make decisions about. The bottom line, though, is you’ll always have the memories. But that stuff? It’s just stuff.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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