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Dovetail Companies: Helping Seniors & Their Families from Start to Finish
For many seniors, the day comes when they need to move out of their longtime house and start the next chapter of their lives.
But before they can start enjoying their golden years, they need to take care of quite a few affairs — including selling their home. This is often no easy feat, but now seniors and their families do not need to navigate this process alone.
Erin DiCarlo is the founder and president of Dovetail Companies, a company in eastern Massachusetts dedicated to supporting older adults with their senior living transitions. Whether the older adult is moving to a long-term care facility or downsizing, Erin and Dovetail Companies are there to help these seniors and their families every step of the way.
Dovetail Companies is Born
Erin founded the Dovetail Companies in 2017 after spending several years as a care manager working in senior living. Erin watched older adults and their families try to navigate the logistical and emotional hurdles that come with leaving a longtime home and moving into long-term care.
Eventually, she had an idea. “Seven years ago, I had an aha moment — ‘Why don’t I create a one point of contact where we can do it all instead of bringing in five to eight different professionals — a Realtor, a move manager, an estate planning attorney, a financial advisor, a moving company. What if they hire us and we do all of that?’” With this idea, Dovetail Companies was born.
Navigating the Home-Selling Process for Seniors
One entity of the business, The Dovetail Group, is dedicated to the home-selling process. They focus specifically on listing longtime homes for seniors transitioning to other living arrangements or family members selling a lost loved one’s home.
Selling a home is already complicated enough, but when it is a senior seller, it often adds a new layer of complexity. Erin explains, “Our clients are not selling because of the time of year or because of the real estate market. They’re selling because they’re in the middle of a major life transition, and the motivation may be a cognitive impairment, a loss of a spouse, or physical decline.”
Not only are there a lot of emotions tied to this process, but also there is often a monetary need to get a good price. Erin explains, “For many seniors, liquidity is the biggest challenge. Assisted living in the Boston market is anywhere from 8 to 13,000 dollars a month. And many older adults are living on their Social Security, which can be 1,400 to 5,000 dollars a month.” She continues, “These options later in life are very expensive, and so every penny for our clients matters.”
Often the best way to fill that gap is with money from selling their home, but the issue becomes how to sell these often outdated and out-of-style homes for top dollar.
Move First. Sell Later.
Dealing almost exclusively with senior sellers, Erin and The Dovetail Group already know what needs to be done to help their home sell fast and for top dollar.
Along with pricing the homes appropriately, the house needs to at least undergo some basic listing prep before it hits today’s market. Erin will often tell her sellers, “Your home needs to be prepared well for a buyer to pay top dollar because they’re at their max. They went from 3% to 7.5% interest in the last 13 months or so. There’s no more wiggle room for them. So, it needs to be prepared and the work done for them.”
While some Realtors will encourage senior sellers to sell now because the market is good, Dovetail Group knows that patience pays off, literally. “We’re able to come in and say, ‘The market’s going to remain strong at least for a bit while we figure out your plan. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s put a nice long runway together and plan for you so that when the time comes to list and sell, it doesn’t feel rushed.’”
By encouraging their sellers to take the time to fix up their homes first, the Dovetail Group is able to sell the home for top dollar to help fund any senior living expenses. In fact, Erin refers to, “Move first. Sell later.” as the business’s secret sauce, and other agents may want to take note.
How Curbio Has Changed Their Business
While their plan is great in theory, it can be a bit hard to always execute. One major problem for many senior sellers is finding the funds to make these updates.
“In the beginning when I started the business, we not only managed all of our renovation projects, but we held all the bills of our subcontractors and got paid at closing. So, we carried immense expense on our clients’ behalf… So with our partnership with Curbio, we’re not carrying those expenses anymore for our clients. And our clients need the luxury of not coming out of pocket for these things.”
Another issue Curbio helped solve for Erin and her team was the hassle of having to manage these home improvement projects. “All of the time you spend as an agent managing vendors that you could be generating and servicing new business instead — it blows my mind how much time agents spend on this that they don’t have to be.”
Finding Success Over and Over Again
Now the Dovetail Group has done 13 Curbio projects in 18 months. These projects include various types of jobs and scopes of work. But the Dovetail Group has been able to tackle them all successfully.
One common issue they see is homes “full to the gills with stuff.” Their clients have collected a lot over their lifetime, and it shows in their homes. Before anything else can happen, the house needs to be cleaned out. Another common problem is deferred maintenance. These longtime homes are often in need of repairs or updates.
Finally, even if there aren’t any glaring issues, most listings still need a little love. Erin explains, “Almost all of our homes need a fresh coat of paint and floors either redone or carpets replaced. Our average client has lived in their home for over 60 years, so the homes need a refresh. And we help our clients decide what to spend money on and what not to.”
With this approach to getting the listing ready for the market, Erin, her team, and the Boston Curbio team have seen enormous amounts of success. Sales prices have jumped over $100,000 in some cases, and homeowners see added profits around anywhere from $37,000 to $285,000. See one example for yourself.
So Much More Than Real Estate
While their real estate business is a big help for their clients, it is still just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, a lot more needs to be done before even thinking about selling the home.
Erin explains, “Real estate is the last piece of this process for our clients. And believe it or not, it’s the easiest… First, you need to find where you’re going to go and then we need to get you there — that’s the heavy lift.”
So to help their clients from start to finish, Erin is a Certified Senior Advisor®, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Care Manager-Certified®, Senior and Specialty Move Manager-Certified, REALTOR®, Seniors Real Estate Specialist®, and Seller Representative Specialist. In essence, she explains that she and her team help with “sorting, organizing, downsizing, packing, moving, unpacking — Our team handles that whole process. And then after we’ve unpacked them, we go back to the house and do estate sales, donation coordination, and clean out services.”
While there is a lot of work to be done, a huge part of their business is also lending an empathetic hand. “We don’t just come in and execute. Sometimes it’s years of relationship building and hand-holding.” For many seniors and their families, selling their homes and transitioning to the next step in life is emotionally draining and challenging, but Erin and Dovetail Companies are there to make it easier.