Photo: A “jewel box” home features upscale detailing and custom finishes.
Karen Supman and James Mednik, Realtors with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, are good at helping people confronted with the challenges of downsizing, probably because both of them have been through the process themselves.
When Karen’s partner died in 2012, she was left with a 4,000 square foot home filled with treasured keepsakes, including 450 pieces of museum-quality Japanese art. “I asked my kids, ‘What do you want – the fine bone china, Baccarat crystal, oriental rugs, a couch?’ They said that they wanted my vintage handbags, and that was it!” jokes Karen. “We spend a lifetime collecting things that our kids don’t want.”
“We hold onto stuff because it’s sentimental, or you think you’re going to do something with it someday,” says James. “You get to that point where it might be the final move, and everything can’t go with you.”
Karen has been a Realtor in Arizona since 2003, and she became a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers in 2014. NASMM is recognized for its innovative programs and expertise related to senior move management, transition and relocation issues affecting older adults.
James is new to real estate, becoming a Realtor after relocating to Arizona two years ago. He moved here from St. Louis, MO, where he owned several successful businesses in the textile recycling industry. James also mentors other small business owners.
James says that when they meet a client they always ask, “If you could wave a magic wand, what would you wish for?” And the client inevitably always wishes for the process to be done.
Along with the help of Debbie Meyer of Moving You Simply, LLC, they can make their wish come true. Together, they can offer services to completely coordinate and manage the entire move, from packing boxes to staging the home for sale. “Our goal is to take the stress away from them as much as possible, and net them as much money as possible,” says Karen.
Karen and James have also noticed that individuals who are downsizing are looking for the same type of home as millennials. They both want to “live large” on a small footprint without a lot of square footage or a big yard to upkeep.
Karen refers to these ‘lock and leave” homes as “jewel boxes.” What a jewel box home lacks in size it makes up for in luxury with custom finishes and upscale detailing.
“They want an open floor plan, and they want something bright and sunny that’s close to things,” says Karen. “And that sense of community where they have people they could meet and go to the movies or restaurants with.”
A lot of seniors have concerns that they will outlive their money. “They want to be able to cut
some expenses and be in a beautiful home – and they can cut expenses by going to a smaller home. But they’re not going to sacrifice luxury and amenities,” says James.
They both agree that it’s all about the client and what their goals are, and from there, they form a team and navigate the process.
“We really get into it, and we’re making a difference in someone’s life, and that excites us,” says Karen.
The pair has several testimonials from clients on what a difference they’ve made. One woman lost her husband, who made all the financial decisions. James took the time to make a detailed spreadsheet for her so that she could better understand her financial situation and be assured that she was making the right decision. She sold her home here (after receiving three offers) and is currently building her dream home in Virginia.
James’ patience and understanding could be credited to growing up in a Jewish home with older relatives. His father was 44 when he was born, but James’ aunts and uncles were much older, and he watched them go through the difficult process of parting with their belongings. A lot of those items were connected to their Judaism.
“You get a sense of how they think and what is important to them,” says James. “And whether they’re Jewish or Catholic, when they’re religious, it’s about having empathy and an understanding for the value they place on things.”
“You know what I love about being Jewish?” asks Karen after she shares that she converted not once, but twice – first to Reform and then to Conservative. “The sense of tradition, the sense of family. That coincides with how I take care of my clients – they become my family.”
If you have question about downsizing, or are looking for a Realtor, contact Karen at 602-999-6738 or James at 480-925-2440.