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Estate Sales

Estate Sales and Estate Auctions

Estate sales, also known as liquidation sales are becoming increasingly more common these days. With the boomer generation aging, the rapid accumulation of debt and divorce rates on the rise, people are in a state of change all around us. People typically associate these types of sales with the death of an aged loved one. The traditional landscape of estate sales is changing. One could think of them more as “transition sales,” as people often require them during significant transitions in their lives — like divorces, attempts to pay off large debts, employment relocation and even downsizing after the kids move out or when people are looking to move into an assisted living or nursing home.

Homes are typically full of stuff — lots of stuff — like books, music, artwork, furniture, collectibles, memorabilia, photos, antiques, household decor, kitchen items, tools, clothing, etc. It might be just as easy to haul it all away to your local charity house or call them up for a pick-up. But before you do, you might consider the unknown value that exists in these items. The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rings true in estate sales.

Some families feel confident handling small and simple sales on their own. Heck, that’s where the yard sales and garage sales originated, right? Put an ad in your local newspaper or reach out through social media or message boards and hope for the best. It can be done. But will it be as lucrative of an estate sale as it could be? Transition sales that are more complicated with higher value items, or even a multitude of items should be operated by a professional. This ensures a better financial return for the family or individual seeking the sale.

Estate sale companies or auctioneers are experts in turning houses of stuff and unwanted things into profit by carefully organizing and pricing the items. They are “in-the-know” and have access to references and resources the average person does not have. It’s their job to evaluate, assess and assign value based on their experience. Plus, they have the connections to properly market the estate or transition sale, and bring it to a successful closure for the client.

Some families feel burdened by the task of sorting through their own stuff or the things left behind by their parents or grandparents. It’s overwhelming. It can be such a relief to reach out for help in these transitional phases. That’s what estate sale companies are for — they pride themselves on finding purpose and value in what may have been deemed dumpster bound or donation station type belongings. It can be a validating experience for many families to shed the burden and build a sense of peace through these transitions.

So, what does it take? The time frame of an estate sale can vary from a few weeks to a few months. The average preparation time is about three weeks, and for most of us that’s pretty feasible. The estate sale company has the responsibility of cleaning, cataloguing and effectively displaying all the items up for sale. And what about the cost? Commission rates vary as well, though you can count on paying about 20-30% commission on the total sale. It’s worth it — the estate sale experts handle it all from the security, to the advertising and permits. They have all the equipment at their fingertips to showcase the items of your estate in the most flattering light. Again, it’s worth the time investment so you can turn idle unknown value into active known value.

Here are some things to consider before you make the call to get the ball rolling on your transition / estate sale. Shop around — don’t be afraid to ask estate companies for their references and history of work experience. Go even further by checking with the Better Business Bureau or looking online for reviews of the companies you are considering. Chances are you might know someone at work, church or a close friend who has used this service and can give you a recommendation of who to choose. Don’t toss anything — wait for the experts to look through everything. They will help you decide what can be discarded, if anything. Don’t clean — the value of certain items, like precious metals, is highest in its current state, even if it seems dirty or tarnished. Don’t talk about it — be discreet about who you tell, as you really don’t want to open the estate up to any vulnerabilities like nosy relatives and preying swindlers. Keep it real — avoid having the belongings boxed up and taken away to a warehouse somewhere. Household items sell better when showcased in a natural, home setting. Time it right if you can — talk to your estate sale expert about sale trends to help time your sale to best maximize your profits.