The most uttered phrase after holding a garage sale must be “never again.” What starts out as a simple way to get rid of some excess junk turns into a weekend of organizing, advertising, hauling, dealing with early birds and bargain hunters who are incensed you won’t sell them a flatscreen television for a quarter, and then packing all the stuff that didn’t sell into the car and taking it to the nearest charity shop. The memory of that one exhausting garage sale experience is enough to make even the hardiest Do-It-Yourselfers shy away from even the thought of organizing an estate sale.
An estate sale generally involves selling the belongings of an entire household. This type of sale might be necessary after a death in the family, declaring bankruptcy, downsizing, divorce, combining households or moving. To avoid the overwhelming task during an already overwhelming time, many people choose to use an estate sale company to run the sale.
What Does an Estate Company Do?
A reputable estate sale company handles most aspects of the sale from start to finish and is paid an agreed upon percentage of the overall sale. Once a company is contacted, representatives come into your home to catalog and organize its contents. In general, the sale planner will ask you to not declutter your home before he or she comes, so you don’t accidentally get rid of something valuable. If the company and you agree the estate is valuable enough for a successful sale (generally around $10,000), the company prices each item based on experience of what items sell for and by comparing prices in the marketplace. The sales company also stages the home to ensure each item is displayed favorably.
Before the sale, the company markets the sale through print and online ads, on its website and through emailing its contact lists. A good company uses high-resolution photographs in its advertisements and showcases your more valuable assets to bring the most traffic to the sale.
The sale usually takes place over one or two days. During that time, the sales team is there to assist the buyers and prevent theft. After the sale, the company inventories the unsold items and lets you decide what to keep and what the team should take to your local charity shop. If anything of value remains, the company may offer a price for the lot or arrange for a consignment sale.
How to Choose an Estate Company
There are many estate sale companies to choose from. The industry is not regulated, so it is important to investigate carefully. Look for online reviews of the companies in your area before contacting any with good reviews. In your initial phone calls, confirm whether the companies are insured, and ask about their experience, staff and services. If possible, attend a sale organized by the companies and confirm their claims.
Arrange face-to-face interviews with your top two contenders. Conduct these interviews at the property to show the sales professional your inventory. Ask about commission, what types of marketing are guaranteed, how they conduct a sale and when a sale can be scheduled. Before coming to any agreement, make sure to document all of the details in a written contract.