about anna novak
Anna Novak is a writer, a Senior Move Manager, and a nationally recognized Downsizing expert. Her downsizing advice has been featured in the Boston Globe and The Washington Post, and she writes and manages content marketing for her website HomeTransitionPros.com.
Originally from Savannah GA, Anna attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, majored in American Studies, and became an instructional designer. Early jobs included content management, training and instructional design for Freddie Mac and Arthur Andersen.
Anna spent sixteen years outside of the workforce raising three kids, she immersed herself in supervising playdates and preschool, zipping from school to sports, and coordinating endless activities. She also found herself taking charge of every club, organization and event in her path. “I discovered that I love managing complex projects. I just couldn’t help it!”
When her oldest prepared to leave for college, Anna decided to rejoin the workforce. Looking for flexibility and self management, she obtained a real estate license. “As a volunteer, I never had to market myself! There was a lot to learn.” She committed to writing a weekly newsletter called “Fun this Weekend” that gave options and ideas for weekend outings. “I worked hard on that, and people really appreciated the effort”.
Over time, Anna realized that she was spending more time helping people deal with their belongings and manage the logistics of their move than actually selling their homes. She turned her attention to writing about downsizing and moving instead of fun ideas for the weekend.
Anna also shifted her real estate efforts to focus on seniors, retirees and empty nesters, and published the website HomeTransitionPros.com as an online hub for professional advice, printable checklists, and moral support. The site showcased her growing network of people who could make a downsizing move happen – local movers, professional organizers, estate liquidators, appraisers, collectors, interior designers and others.
“I was so excited about the downsizing angle and the way HomeTransitionPros.com was gaining traction. I showed it to my attorney and she told me that I wasn’t licensed or insured to be doing any of the services I was offering on my website!” Undaunted, Anna launched her concierge-style downsizing service Simply Downsized to provide the consulting, project management, and hands-on help she was unable to offer with a real estate license alone.
The gamble paid off. “The first time I typed ‘Downsizing’ into a search engine, the only thing that came up was some Matt Damon movie. But the growing need for downsizing and senior move support was obvious. I found a niche there that was attractive to me and went for it”.
“Downsizing is different than just moving. Many of my clients have to reduce their belongings by 80%, and many of those belongings hold deep meaning for them. It becomes a balancing act of preserving what matters and re-homing everything else.” Anna also helps her clients navigate the logistics of communicating with family and tackling long-delayed projects like document sorting and dealing with photos and videos. Then, there are the financial and legal transactions, plus the stress and pressures of selling a well-loved home. It can be an overwhelming experience.
“The biggest challenge my clients face is figuring out what to do with their stuff. You really have to be creative in this environment. The easiest to sell is gold and silver, along with mid-century furniture. We do pretty well with designer clothing and jewelry too, and high-end accessories. One thing that’s almost impossible to re-home is large storage furniture like china cabinets and entertainment centers designed for home electronics. No one wants those. Actually no one wants what was stored in them either.”
“The most common advice I give to people is that you don’t necessarily need to sort through every single thing you own. Typically when people decide to make a move, they start loading up their car with books or clothes to go to good will. That’s fine and it helps, but it’s not necessarily the best use of their time. We try to focus on the most important things first: preserving personal history and deciding what will provide the most value in their next home and lifestyle.”
“I’ve tried lots of metaphors to describe my service: the consultant, the wedding planner, the travel agent, the daughter-in-law you wish you had. It all boils down to being outcome-oriented and putting the appropriate people, services and support together in the right order for the particular situation. And, a lot of moral support!”
As for the website? The blog blossomed into what is likely the most comprehensive resource for downsizers available on the web. In 2020, Anna expanded the HomeTransitionPros.com website and social media content into a marketing subscription service for other small businesses like hers across the country. “We’re in over 50 American cities now, and I love being able to help other people grow their local businesses too. Downsizing moves are sometimes painful, and sometimes joyful, but always a little complicated. My marketing service frees them up to focus on being present for their clients.”
Becoming an empty nester has provided fresh inspiration for Anna’s outlook and her writing as well. “Downsizing is really a mindset. Letting go of belongings, furniture and artifacts that aren’t serving us anymore can be transformative. In a way we’re all doing the same thing, right? Embracing a future that’s a bit different, but easier. The trick is choosing the parts you like the most, and figuring out how to let go of everything else.”