Below are some of the more common questions that people ask us about estate sales.
While we do our best to provide accurate answers to general questions about estate sales, in almost all situations the specific information matter grreatly. That is why it is best to reach out to us and ask. We are happy to assist you.
Selecting the right estate sale company is crucial to ensure a smooth and successful sale. Before choosing an estate sale company, consider asking the following questions to help make an informed decision:
- How long have you been in business?
Experience matters when it comes to estate sales. Look for a company with a proven track record and years of experience in the industry.
- Can you provide references?
Ask for references from previous clients, and take the time to contact them to gain insight into their experience with the company.
- What services do you offer?
Some companies offer a wide range of services, such as organizing, pricing, advertising, conducting the sale, and cleaning up afterward. Clarify what services are included in their fee and whether any additional services are available.
- How do you price items?
Pricing is a critical aspect of estate sales. Ask about their pricing strategy, whether they rely on their own expertise, use a third-party appraiser, or follow a combination of both methods.
- How do you advertise and promote sales?
A successful estate sale requires effective advertising and promotion. Ask about the company’s marketing strategies, including online listings, social media, signage, and local print advertisements.
- What is your commission structure?
Estate sale companies typically charge a commission based on a percentage of the total sales. Ask about their commission rate and if there are any additional fees or expenses you should be aware of.
- How long does it take to set up and conduct the sale?
Ask about the estimated timeline from initial consultation to the completion of the sale. This will give you an idea of how quickly they can organize and execute the sale.
- How do you handle unsold items?
Inquire about their process for dealing with items that don’t sell during the estate sale. Some companies may offer to donate, consign, or dispose of unsold items on your behalf.
- Do you have insurance?
Ensure that the company has insurance to protect against any accidents or damage that may occur during the sale.
- What is your policy on client attendance during the sale?
Some estate sale companies prefer that clients do not attend the sale, while others may allow it. Ask about their policy and discuss any concerns you may have.
- Can you provide a written contract?
A written contract is essential to outline the terms and conditions of the estate sale, including fees, services provided, and the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Request a copy of their standard contract for review.
By asking these questions and carefully considering the responses, you can make an informed decision and choose the best estate sale company to meet your needs.
The percentage that estate sale companies take for their services can vary widely, depending on several factors, including the size and complexity of the estate, the value of the items being sold, and the policies and fees of the estate sale company.
- Commission Fees: Most estate sale companies charge a commission fee, which is a percentage of the total sales from the estate sale. This commission fee can range from 30% to 40% or more, depending on the estate sale company and the value of the items being sold.
- Setup Fees: Some estate sale companies also charge setup fees, which are fees for preparing and setting up the estate sale. These fees can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
- Advertising Fees: Some estate sale companies also charge advertising fees, which are fees for advertising the estate sale. These fees can be a flat fee or a percentage of the total sales, depending on the estate sale company.
In conclusion, the percentage that estate sale companies take for their services can vary widely, depending on several factors, including the size and complexity of the estate, the value of the items being sold, and the policies and fees of the estate sale company. Consider seeking the help of a professional estate sale company or financial advisor to determine the best option for you.
At estate sales, certain items tend to be more popular and sell more quickly than others. Here is a list of some of the most sought-after categories of items at estate sales:
Furniture: Antique, vintage, and high-quality contemporary furniture pieces are always in demand. Solid wood furniture, well-known designer pieces, and mid-century modern styles tend to be particularly popular.
Jewelry: Fine jewelry, costume jewelry, and vintage pieces often sell well at estate sales. Buyers are often attracted to unique, well-crafted items and recognizable brand names.
Artwork: Original paintings, signed prints, and sculptures from known artists or with unique appeal can fetch a good price at estate sales.
Collectibles: Items such as vintage toys, stamps, coins, sports memorabilia, and antique glassware can be highly sought after by collectors.
Tools and equipment: High-quality power tools, hand tools, and garden equipment tend to be popular, especially when they are in good condition and from reputable brands.
Electronics: Working electronics, such as flat-screen TVs, audio equipment, computers, and gaming consoles, can sell quickly if they are in good condition and reasonably priced.
Kitchen items: High-end cookware, small appliances, and vintage kitchenware often attract buyers looking to upgrade their kitchen or find unique pieces.
Designer clothing and accessories: Brand-name clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories in good condition can be popular, particularly if they are from well-known designers or in current fashion.
Books: First editions, signed copies, and rare books can be valuable and sought after. In addition, books on specialized topics, such as art, history, or antiques, can attract collectors.
Records and musical instruments: Vinyl records in good condition, particularly those from popular artists or rare pressings, can be in high demand. Quality musical instruments, such as guitars, pianos, and brass or woodwind instruments, can also be desirable.
Household items and décor: Decorative items, such as vintage lamps, mirrors, and rugs, as well as quality linens and curtains, can sell well at estate sales.
Seasonal items: Holiday decorations, lawn ornaments, and patio furniture can be popular when they are in-season and in good condition.
Estate sales often result in items that are not sold during the sale. These items are known as “leftovers” and there are several options for what to do with them.
- Donate: One option for estate sale leftovers is to donate them to a local charity or non-profit organization. This is a great way to give back to the community and help those in need.
- Sell Online: Another option is to sell the leftovers online, either through a platform such as eBay or through a consignment shop. This can be a convenient and effective way to reach a wider audience and potentially sell items that were not sold during the estate sale.
- Store: If you are unable to sell or donate the leftovers, you may choose to store them until you are able to sell them or dispose of them at a later time.
- Dispose: Finally, if the leftovers are not of value or are no longer useful, you may choose to dispose of them. This may involve recycling, donating to a local landfill, or hiring a professional to remove the items.
Estate sale leftovers can be handled in several ways, including donating, selling online, storing, or disposing of the items. Consider your options carefully and choose the best option for your specific circumstances and goals.
Estate sales are a common venue for buying and selling used and vintage items, and many people wonder if haggling or negotiating is allowed or common at these events. The answer is that it depends on the estate sale and the estate sale company that is organizing it.
Some estate sales are strictly priced and do not allow any negotiating, while others may be more open to haggling or bargaining. The rule of thumb is to ask the estate sale company or the person running the sale if negotiating is allowed before making an offer.
If negotiating is allowed, it’s important to be respectful and courteous in your approach. Remember that the items being sold are often sentimental or have sentimental value to the seller, so be mindful of this when making an offer. It’s also a good idea to be realistic in your offers and to keep in mind the market value of the item you’re interested in.
In general, estate sales are a great opportunity to find unique and one-of-a-kind items at a discounted price. Whether negotiating is allowed or not, it’s always a good idea to arrive early, have cash on hand, and be prepared to move quickly if you see something you’re interested in.
Whether or not haggling or negotiating is allowed at estate sales can vary depending on the estate sale and the estate sale company. If negotiating is allowed, it’s important to be respectful and courteous in your approach and to keep in mind the market value of the item you’re interested in.
A watched list, also known as a watch list or a wish list, is a common feature at estate sales that allows buyers to keep track of items they are interested in purchasing. The watched list is essentially a list of items that the buyer wants to keep an eye on during the sale, and it can be helpful in ensuring that they don’t miss out on items they want to purchase.
Here’s how a watched list works:
Identify Items of Interest: As you browse the estate sale, make a note of items that you are interested in purchasing.
Add to the Watched List: If the estate sale has a watched list, ask the person running the sale to add the items you are interested in to the list. Some estate sales may have a physical list that you can write your name and the items you are interested in on, while others may use an electronic system to keep track of watched items.
Keep Track of Items: The person running the sale will keep track of the items on your watched list and let you know if they become available for purchase. If you are not able to attend the sale in person, the person running the sale may be able to hold items for you until the end of the sale.
Purchase Items: When the items on your watched list become available for purchase, you can purchase them as you normally would at an estate sale.
Having a watched list can be a useful tool for buyers at estate sales, especially if they are looking for specific items or are unable to attend the sale in person. It allows buyers to keep track of items they are interested in and ensures that they don’t miss out on items they want to purchase.
In conclusion, a watched list is a feature commonly found at estate sales that allows buyers to keep track of items they are interested in purchasing. By using a watched list, buyers can ensure that they don’t miss out on items they want to purchase and can purchase them when they become available.
During an estate sale, it is essential to curate and display the items that will be most appealing to potential buyers while ensuring that personal or valuable items are kept separate. Here are some suggestions for what should be left in a house during an estate sale:
Furniture: Showcase quality, antique, or unique furniture pieces that are in good condition. Make sure to remove any personal items from drawers or shelves.
Appliances: If the sale includes large appliances like refrigerators, washers, or dryers, keep them in the house for easy demonstration and access.
Household items: Leave out decorative items, linens, curtains, rugs, and other household goods that are clean and in good condition.
Kitchenware: Display cookware, dishes, utensils, small appliances, and other kitchen items that are clean and in working order.
Electronics: Keep functioning electronics, such as TVs, computers, and gaming consoles, in the house for potential buyers to see and test.
Artwork and collectibles: Hang artwork and display collectibles in prominent areas to attract buyers’ attention.
Books, records, and media: Organize books, vinyl records, CDs, and DVDs in a designated area for easy browsing.
Clothing and accessories: Arrange clean, quality clothing, shoes, and accessories in closets or designated spaces.
Tools and equipment: Keep well-maintained tools and equipment in the garage, basement, or workshop, making sure they are easily accessible.
Outdoor items: Display patio furniture, gardening equipment, and lawn ornaments in outdoor areas, if weather permits.
Seasonal items: Leave out any holiday decorations or seasonal items that are in good condition and appropriate for the time of year.
What to remove or secure:
Personal items: Remove family photos, personal documents, and any items with sentimental value that you do not wish to sell.
Valuables: Secure valuable items that are not for sale, such as expensive jewelry, important documents, or cash.
Prescription medications: Remove all prescription medications from the home to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands.
Hazardous materials: Remove or safely secure any hazardous materials, such as chemicals, paint, or propane tanks, to avoid accidents or liability issues.
Pets: Make arrangements for pets to be cared for away from the home during the estate sale, as they may become stressed or pose a risk to visitors.
By carefully selecting and arranging items for the estate sale, you can create an inviting and organized environment that encourages potential buyers to explore and make purchases.
Determining whether an estate sale or an auction is more profitable depends on several factors, including the types and value of items being sold, the target market, and the timeline for liquidating the assets. Both options have their advantages and drawbacks:
- Accessibility: Estate sales attract a broader range of buyers, including casual shoppers, collectors, and bargain hunters. This wide audience can potentially increase the number of items sold.
- Fixed Prices: Items are priced individually at estate sales, which can help ensure that you receive fair market value for your possessions.
- More Time: Estate sales typically span multiple days, giving buyers more time to browse, make decisions, and return for additional purchases.
- Flexibility: Estate sales can be more flexible in terms of organizing and displaying items, and sellers can often negotiate prices with buyers.
- Preparation: Estate sales require significant preparation, including organizing, cleaning, pricing, and advertising the sale.
- Slower Sales: The fixed pricing structure may result in some items not selling, especially if they are overpriced or less desirable.
- Unsold Items: There is a risk of being left with unsold items, which will require additional effort to dispose of, donate, or sell through other means.
- Competitive Bidding: Auctions can generate competitive bidding, potentially driving up the final sale price for high-demand or unique items.
- Faster Process: Auctions typically last only a few hours, which can make the process of liquidating assets quicker.
- Definite Sale: Items are more likely to sell at an auction, as they go to the highest bidder, even if the price is lower than expected.
- Professional Management: Auctioneers are experienced professionals who handle the entire process, including cataloging, advertising, and conducting the auction.
- Limited Audience: Auctions often attract a more specialized audience, potentially limiting the number of potential buyers for certain items.
- Auction Fees: Auctioneers typically charge a commission based on a percentage of the total sales, which can be higher than estate sale commissions. There may also be additional fees for advertising, cataloging, and other services.
- Uncertainty: There is no guarantee on the final selling price for items at an auction, which could result in lower-than-expected returns.
- No Negotiation: The bidding process is final, and there is no opportunity for negotiation or price adjustments.
In conclusion, the decision between an estate sale and an auction depends on the specific circumstances and objectives of the seller. An estate sale may be more profitable for those looking to sell a wide range of items to a diverse audience, while an auction might be better suited for those with high-value or specialized items that are likely to attract competitive bidding. It is essential to carefully evaluate your assets and consider the pros and cons of each method before making a decision.
Preparing your house for an estate sale can seem overwhelming, but with a little organization and planning, you can make the process smoother and more successful. Here are some tips to help you prepare your house for an estate sale.
- Sort and Declutter: Start by sorting through your belongings and deciding what items you want to sell, what items you want to keep, and what items you want to donate or dispose of. This will not only make the estate sale process easier, but it will also help you declutter your home and make it look more organized.
- Clean and Repair: Clean your home thoroughly and make any necessary repairs to ensure that it presents well during the sale. This will make it more attractive to potential buyers and increase your chances of selling items.
- Price Items: Determine a fair price for each item you want to sell. Estate sale companies typically handle the pricing, but it’s still a good idea to have an idea of what you want to get for each item.
- Stage the Sale: Organize and display items in a way that is attractive and easy to navigate. Group items by category and consider using tables, shelves, and other display fixtures to showcase items.
- Advertise: Advertise the estate sale through various channels, such as local newspapers, online classifieds, and social media. Estate sale companies often handle the advertising, but it’s still a good idea to spread the word to your friends, family, and neighbors.
- Prepare for the Sale: On the day of the sale, be prepared to handle transactions and answer questions from buyers. Consider having a cash box, bags and wrapping paper for purchases, and a calculator for transactions.
By following these tips, you can prepare your house for an estate sale and maximize your chances of success. Remember to be organized, patient, and flexible throughout the process, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful estate sale.