Treasures Found Estate Sales

Most of us have accumulated many things over the years. When you have decided to sell your home and part with a whole house full of furniture, carpets, rugs, bedding, linens, clothing, kitchen items, decorative items, a garage full of outdoor equipment, tools, sporting equipment, possibly a boat or a car, a full basement and attic all at once, what do you do? Most of us have to do it at some point in time. Sometimes when a family member passes away or ill health has forced you to assisted living or very often couples decide they no longer need a huge home with their offspring having gone off to college and they decide to downsize. Others may be divorcing, relocating to a different state because their job has changed or some may have financial issues. The process can be overwhelming, but there are professional estate sale companies who can organize and host an estate sale in your home and sell all of these items efficiently for you.

Estate sales are the best route to take when you are selling the contents of your home. Consigning or auctioning is not a solution for an entire household. Estate sale companies handle all of the work for you. This includes preparing an inventory of all of the more valuable items to be sold, sorting all of the items, cleaning items, moving and staging the items to assure they are shown and displayed nicely so that your items get the best market price, researching the fair market prices, pricing all items for the sale, writing the advertisements so that the right buying market is targeted and attracted to your sale, advertising online, in newspapers and also by strategically placing their professional company signage during the sale to attract people located in the area to the sale. Most reputable estate sale companies have a large database of customers of who follow their sales that are e-mailed information and photos about their upcoming sales. Some estate sale companies, but very few will advertise large items and pre-sell the items that you are selling before the sale. Pre-selling items is a great advantage when there are many large pieces to be sold when there is 2-3 window of sale days to sell all items. The estate sale company will also supply staffing for the sale, negotiate prices when items are being sold and leave your home clean as part of the process of the sale.

When you have expensive or specialized items in your sale, reputable estate sale companies already have acquired knowledge and also use appraisers who are experts in selling fine art, collections, antiques, jewelry and other valuables.

You can trust that the estate company doing just estate sales will strive to sell your items before and during the sale. A liquidator or auctioneer will use other avenues to sell after the sale. The goal for an estate sale company is to sell most of your items at your sale! You will most likely get your highest percentage of return at the sale. When weighing the pros and cons of choosing an estate sale company, do not dismiss the companies that charge a higher percentage than others. Choosing a company with a low percentage fee doesn’t necessarily mean you will make more money.

Liquidation services will pay you a flat sum of money for the contents of your home upfront. It most likely will be much less than the commission you would earn having a professional estate sale. Or they may offer to do a commission based estate sale and then will take all of the remaining items after the estate sale at no charge as a clean out. An estate sale liquidator most likely has a store or auction outlet that will sell your items and make their profit for the remaining contents of your home.

A new approach to the estate sales business are online estate sales. Again, if you need to empty your house this is not a good option, as they select chosen items in a home and sell them to customers online. They do not sell the normal household items. They sell upscale decorative items and furniture and collections. They normally are auctioneers/stores not true estate sale companies that handle the entire contents of your home.

If you have valuable items, another option is having them consigned. But beware that most consignment stores take 50-60% of the sale proceeds as commission on each item and have time constraint policies for selling the item within 30 – 90 days. If you do not pick up your items when that time has run out the consignment store may own your items. If you are moving out of state or out of town, the consignment option is not a good one. They also are selective and do not sell all contents of your home.

If there are items left over after the estate sale that you don’t want to take with you, often donating them to a charity is the best solution. Most charities will pick up the left over items.

If you have decided to move forward with a professional estate sale company for the sale of your household:

a) Look at all the online estate sale companies and their websites. Most estate sale company owners will come to your home and meet with you and discuss what you are selling. You can collect information about the estate sale companies online, e-mailing them or talking to them by phone. Interview the people that you have selected in your home and show them what you intend to sell. You should feel very comfortable with the personalities and in your heart feel that they are trustworthy. You will have these people in your home for close to a month getting the sale prepared and executing the sale, so it is important to have a comfort level with them.

b) We also recommend that you go to one or two estate sales in your area and get a feel for how the sales are run. In other words, see some live sales in action. Is there signage on the road directing you to the estate sale? Is there someone directing the parking and insuring that the neighbors property is not being damaged with cars parked on their property or blocking their driveway? When you enter the sale is there a staffed checkout area? Do they wrap and bag the items being purchased? Is there additional staffing available in the areas of the sale area? Has all merchandise been sorted, like things together, clothing on hangers and open racks for easy viewing? Have they brought in tables and do they have fresh linens on them to display the items for sale? Have items not belonging in the basement or attic that belong in the kitchen or in other areas been brought to the living areas? Is every item priced? Does the staff look and act professional? Do they interact professionally with the customers?

c) Get references.

d) Once you decide on a company get their written agreement/contract showing the dates of the sale and when they will begin working in your home. The agreement should cover the major items that have been discussed and be signed by both parties.

e) Understand how the company will staff your sale, how they plan to advertise, how your home will be left, what will be done with the unsold items, do they charge sales tax at their sale, how many days will it take to set up the sale, the total number of days of the sale. Understand the commission that you will be paid and those that will be deducted for their services. Are there any other hidden fees or charges? When can you expect the payment settlement after the sale will be made.

Once you have selected a company and have a contract that covers the details you’ve discussed, you can relax and have peace of mind knowing the estate sale company will manage all aspects of the sale from that point on.

Our good wishes to you in finding the right company to suit your needs.

Our best,

Joan and Kate



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