Easing the Burden
People looking to move, relocate or downsize gain invaluable peace of mind and much more through Personal Property Managers, where “one call does it all”
by Bill Donahue

While the Hogan family was preparing to move from their longtime home in Doylestown to a new home in Arizona, they considered the daunting number of tasks they needed to check off in advance of their relocation—downsizing their possessions, de-cluttering the home and staging it for resale, identifying potential buyers, etc. The list was almost overwhelming.

When they discovered Personal Property Managers, a firm co-founded by the father-and-son team of Joseph and Nicholas Santoro, everything changed. Instead of worrying over the minutiae, the couple placed everything in the trusted hands of the Santoros’ team of skilled problem solvers, so they could focus on building a new life out west.

As the Doylestown couple discovered, a home can be a precious asset and greatest source of comfort, but there are times when it can also be a source of stress. Joe Santoro knows this better than most. Prior to co-founding Personal Property Managers, he had a successful career in corporate sales and marketing for elite Fortune 50 companies, for which he had to uproot his life and relocate six times.

“The genesis of Personal Property Managers was originally as a concierge service for high-end clients who were moving into the Bucks County area and wanted all the charm and modern amenities but were too busy to do it themselves,” he recalls. “Over time the business started to change and evolve. We had one client who was taking a temporary assignment overseas, so we started to hear questions like, ‘Can you rent my house?’ or ‘Can you manage my property?’ So we got involved in property oversight and took the time to gain the expertise we needed. It grew from there.”

Personal Property Managers has since grown to offer a host of innovative services to manage clients’ property and possessions, essentially acting as “a one-stop solution” for homeowners needing to downsize, de-clutter and liquidate assets, among other services. Also, both Santoros are licensed Realtors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey through EveryHome Realty.  Because of its scope of services, the company has become known throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and most of the state of New Jersey for its trademarked tagline, “With Personal Property Managers, one call does it all.”

“Just about every case we handle is a triage situation, where people are going through some kind of crisis,” says Joe, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University and his master’s degree in organizational dynamics/business from the University of Pennsylvania. “You have people who are relocating or going through a divorce or stepping down from a large house because they just don’t need it anymore. In any case, any time we’re going through a home, we treat it as a sacred place where in many cases generations have grown up. Whatever the case, we help them through the entire transition.”

A prospective client can pick and choose among Personal Property Managers’ menu of services to suit a specific need. In other words, Personal Property Managers offers a customized solution to each client—big, small or something in between.

“What we do is all about creating relationships,” adds Nick. “We get to play a part in people’s lives, and it’s usually at a time that can be stressful and emotional. … I enjoy spending time with people, hearing their stories and listening to them talk about the kinds of sacrifices they have to make.”

Nick knows a thing or two about sacrifice. A military veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003 to 2008, he served three tours of duty overseas, including two in Iraq. He earned the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in battle during his second tour of Iraq in 2006. Upon returning stateside and recovering from his wounds, he graduated from the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities and later earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Drexel University.

Although his military career came to an end in 2008, he has found ways to honor his heritage. Under his leadership, Personal Property Managers has become an ardent supporter of philanthropic organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, both of which serve military veterans wounded in battle, as well as their families. In addition, whenever possible, the company hires military veterans. In fact, Personal Property Managers earned the U.S. Small Business Association’s Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year Award in 2010 for its support of military veterans in need.

A Growing Need
Years ago, Joe Santoro served as caregiver to an elderly aunt, helping her transition from in-home care to assisted living to full-time care in a nursing home. The experience inspired him to help others going through similar situations, as Personal Property Managers can also help alleviate many of the stress points associated with affording long-term care for aging loved ones.

The demand for such assistance has grown considerably and will only intensify in the near future. The nation’s 65-and-older population reached 46.2 million in 2014, and that number is expected to swell to nearly 84 million by 2050, according to U.S. Census data. Most of this population will eventually need some sort of long-term care, which can be exorbitantly expensive; figures from Genworth Life Insurance Co. suggest that, in Pennsylvania, care in an assisted-living facility can cost more than $42,000 per year, while nursing-home care can cost more than $110,000 per year.

As a way to subsidize the costs of long-term care, Personal Property Managers offers customized services to help clients liquidate assets. This can be done through estate sales, among other means.

“We’ll design special web pages to promote an estate sale, do signage, handle security and manpower—everything to ensure a successful sale and help our clients,” says Joe. “That said, not all our clients have contents that are valuable enough or desirable enough for an estate sale. This is why home downsizing is so important. If you live in a house for 20, 30, even 40 years, it’s astounding how much stuff is accumulated. For the average downsizing job, we will take about four tons of debris out of a home. … We can then stage [the home] and help them sell their home at a quicker rate and at a higher selling price.”

“Every family and every house is specific,” adds John Wikberg, an asset-liquidation and estate-sale specialist for Personal Property Managers who formerly worked as an equities trader on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and later as a financial planner managing 401(k) plans for small and mid-sized businesses. “With each individual’s home, every single item needs to be looked up and evaluated on its own merit. We’ll try to get top dollar with an estate sale, and whatever is left over, we then assist in helping our clients liquidate the balance of their contents. In any case, we’re looking to get the best price for the homeowner.”

The principals of Personal Property Managers realize there are some services beyond their immediate realm of expertise. In these instances, the company can “tap into the resources” of a network of allied professionals. In matters pertaining to elderly loved ones, for example, Joe Santoro’s position as co-director of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the Geriatric Advisory Council enables access to an array of licensed professionals, service providers, nonprofit organizations and business-to-business specialists who focus purely on elder care.

“With everything we do, we’re making sure we’re giving families the best possible options,” he says. “It can be overwhelming and emotional when people are going through these kinds of changes, so it’s very rewarding for us to be able to help in some way. It’s not unusual for us to get hugs and kisses, even to become part of the family, and that’s incredibly gratifying.”

Personal Property Managers

4387 Swamp Road, Suite 291
Doylestown, PA 18902

615 Miltonia Street
Linden, NJ 07036

Photograph by Allure West Studios