How Do Estate Sales Work? Tips for making more Money
How do estate sales work? If you’re pondering this question, you are probably faced with a house full of stuff that was once owned by a recently deceased family member. And, as much as you ‘d love to keep all of grandma’s antiques or Uncle Jon’s fishing pole collection, there just isn’t enough room for it, all– especially if you plan to sell the house these things are sitting in, too. What to do?
Enter the estate sale which is similar to a garage sale but to the tenth degree, where you sell off most of the contents of a home in one fell swoop.
How do estate sales work?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must own a fancy-schmancy estate to make it worthwhile.
The only requirement for holding an estate sale is “a significant amount of items of value,” says Gary, an appraiser and marketing manager of a local estate sale company.
Here’s what that means, exactly, and how to get the most cash for your items with the least amount of heartache.
Should I hold an estate sale myself or hire pros?
That depends on what you’re selling– and where.
” Estate sales are often not allowed in high-rise buildings and certain gated communities,” notes Frank Hutchins, owner and principal at An estate company in Tennessee.
Furthermore, “Most estate liquidators prefer homes with collections, art, and antiques to draw people in,” explains Frank. “It helps sell the regular household items like clothes and Tupperware.”
Look around the home and try to come up with a good-faith estimate for the value of its contents. Lean on resources like eBay to estimate what similar items are selling for; you can also contact an estate sale provider for a free consultation.
A general rule of thumb: “If you have less than $7,000 worth of personal property value, you should either host your own sale, donate [your items] or do a combination of both,” says Frank.
More than that, and it’s worth hiring a company to hold the sale for you. Just keep in mind that they’ll take anywhere from 35% to 50% commission of the total sale, but if you’re incredibly busy and/or have lots of stuff to sell, it could be worth saving yourself the trouble.
Another good reason to bring in the pros: They may know better what’s valuable and what’s not.
Most times, Frank says that you may not recognize something that could bring in the big bucks.
” We often find things that are very valuable that the clients may have thrown away,” she notes, recounting a time a client set aside some porcelain figures to go to Goodwill. Franks team identified them and sold them online … for over $30,000. “In fact, we ask that clients don’t do anything to prepare for the sale– for that very reason,” Frank says.
Only what if something valuable doesn’t sell at the estate sale– like a $10,000 painting? The company should remove it from the sale and sell it on consignment to maximize your profit.
How to find an estate sale company
For starters, if the company asks for any money upfront, you shouldn’t consider them reputable.
” There should be no fee for a consultation,” says Frank. “In addition, all charges, such as dumpster fees and hauling, should come from the proceeds of the sale. The estate sale company bears the upfront cost. A reputable estate sale company will essentially do everything for you.”
And by “everything,” she means that they’ll assess what in your home has value, as well as what may be more of a pain to sell than it’s worth. They’ll also recycle/dispose of said trash; set aside family items that should be saved; clean, display, price and photograph the items to be sold; market the sale; run the sale; donate what’s left over and leave your once-crowded house empty and clean. (They also hand you a check.).
Keep in mind, this amount of detail and organization can’t happen overnight. Plan for a lead time of at least 45 days, advises Jenny.
How to hold your own estate sale.
Do you have lots of time and energy? Because you’ll need both, as well as the following
Pricing acumen. “This is where most people lose money if they don’t recognize quality, scarcity, or rarity,” cautions Randel , a certified appraiser OR. “Consult with a professional appraiser to come and consult, point out valuable items and suggest pricing.”.
Marketing skills. For maximum profits, you need to advertise the heck out of your sale. Choose your date wisely, so you either capitalize on big events nearby (like a downtown antiques event) or avoid them if you worry they may steal potential customers. Save up for a big advertising budget. Ideally, you’ll place notices in the paper, print flyers to take around to local businesses, and put up signs to draw traffic. Don’t forget to also announce on free and paid-for ad boards.
Time. Plan on one, maybe two, full weekend days for your sale. (That doesn’t include the days before when you’re setting up or the days after when you’re cleaning up the leftovers.).
Family and friends. You need enough people to help set up, serve as cashier, security, monitor and answer questions, and make decisions on offers, Frank says.
Emotions of steel. “Can you distance yourself emotionally from [your] items and seeing other people handling and purchasing them? asks Frank. You’ll need to. And even if you do hire the pros, Most all estate sale companies ask that the clients not be on site during the sale, adds Frank. It often proves to be very emotional when they see their or their loved one’s belongings being sold. Its what they want, but its hard to see it happen.