Time to Downsize?

The concept of downsizing may seem daunting. Whether you are craving a condo, considering a retirement community, settling the estate of a loved one, or helping a parent relocate to a more manageable space, the process can be quite complicated. Harriet Cochrane of Ray & Poynor discusses the new division the company has created to help simplify things and guide anyone through the process.


Our Transitional Move Experts (TME) team is highly selective. Each realtor holds a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® designation and receives additional training. There are currently seven members, and the group has a combined average of 21 years in the real estate industry. These are seasoned agents with a genuine desire to help clients through transitional moves. They are equipped to handle the delicate nature of change.

From Left to Right: Top Row – Jane Huston Crommelin, Katie Crommelin, Kathryn Dorlon, Betsy French. Bottom Row – Judy Horton, Blair Moss, Bridget Sikora

“Being proactive and having these conversations on the front end, before they need to be implemented, provides security and peace of mind for everyone.”

Harriet Cochrane, Vice President of Business Development, Ray & Poynor

Can you tell us a little about Ray & Poynor’s Transitional Move Experts?

A group of agents came to me to propose a division through which we could provide a concierge service for senior clients considering a move to a retirement community. As we brainstormed and developed the idea, it became clear that the concept was actually overall downsizing that was not necessarily limited to a certain age group. Think too much house and too much stuff! Each of us had personal experiences with downsize moves. We could all relate to having been overwhelmed with figuring out where to begin. The Transitional Move Experts (TME) division was born out of these conversations.

If I was considering a move, where would I start?

It begins with a conversation. What do you really want and how will that feel? Maybe it’s a desire to free up resources for college tuition. Or it could be about providing care for a spouse whose needs are becoming more challenging. Some may be looking to relocate a parent to be closer so that they can care for them. Still others are worried about social isolation and want to be in a vibrant community among friends. And some are just tired of yard work and want a place to land between travels. If it is determined that a move is the answer, I then pair them with the realtor from our TME team who is best suited for their situation.

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So once I have determined I want to make a move and am paired with a realtor, what happens next?

We make a plan for you. While every situation is different, there are usually five basic things to address (with the exception of an estate situation). Where will I live? What should I take with me? How will I get my things there? What do I do with the rest? What about selling my home?

For each step of the process, we have enlisted Partner Providers who specialize in the different areas. Your realtor can refer you to Partner Providers as needed.

How much does this cost?

There is no additional cost for our service. If the client chooses to utilize a service of one of our Partner Providers that does involve a fee, they will contract directly with them. This is not about profit for us. We view it as another way to exceed the expectations of our clients.

If you have one piece of advice for those contemplating a transitional move, what would it be?

Being proactive and having these conversations on the front end, before they need to be implemented, provides security and peace of mind for everyone. We can educate you on options available of which you may be unaware. Many people think they need to wait to contact a realtor until the house is ready to show—and sometimes they are correct. But there have been times that homeowners have worked themselves silly only to find out we could have handled most of that for them!


Harriet Cochrane shares some real-life situations that she and her team at Ray & Poynor have dealt with and how they successfully worked out.

Story #1: In the uncertainty of early COVID times, a retired woman whose daughter lived in another city traveled to go visit her, thinking this mess would be short-lived. (We all know how that turned out!) After a few months, she decided to just stay there permanently. A realtor on our team handled the cleanout and sale of her home entirely remotely. Our client never had to return to Birmingham.

Story #2: A couple in their 50s had two children decide to attend private colleges. Suddenly their empty nest was too large, and the ability to free up some funds for tuition and some time for travel motivated them to find a smaller home and spend more time at the lake.

Story #3: An adult child raised in Birmingham but living in another state lost her mother. In settling the estate, she needed to disperse her mother’s belongings and sell the home long distance. Our team helped her every step of the way.

Story #4: In another scenario, a couple had raised their family in Birmingham but retired to their vacation home on Lake Martin. The husband passed away and the wife wanted to move back to Birmingham to be closer to family. We handled everything from the sale of the contents and the home itself at the lake, to her move, to the townhouse she purchased in Birmingham.

Harriet Cochrane manager of Ray & Poynor’s Transitional Move Experts

Harriet Cochrane

As Vice President of Business Development, Harriet is a member of Ray & Poynor’s leadership team. Her areas of responsibility include managing Ray & Poynor’s referral programs, including the new Transitional Move Experts (TME) division, as well as serving as a corporate and community liaison and assisting with strategic planning.

Harriet’s professional experience includes a broad spectrum of business development and project management roles with a focus on creative problem solving and vision execution. She has a unique ability to connect people and bring a concept to fruition.

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