The Ins and Outs of Estate Sales

We accumulate a lot of stuff over a lifetime and at some point – perhaps due to death, divorce, debt, or downsizing – we need to get rid of it. An estate sale is one way to dispose of possessions that you no longer want or need. However, there are number of factors to consider when deciding whether to hire an estate sale company order handle to on your own.

There are many companies that help families sell furniture, jewelry, and other belongings that they no longer want. While a yard or house-possession sale requires a lot of work by the sellers, an estate sale company does all the work in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds — typically from 25 to 50 percent. The company usually handles sorting goods, staging the house, setting prices, promoting the sale, and hiring workers. There may be a separate fee for cleaning up. Goods that aren’t sold are usually donated to charity.

To get ready for an estate sale, the first step is to ensure that you have the legal right to sell the property. There can’t be any unresolved estate issues. Companies may request legal documentation showing that you have the right to dispose of the property.

If there is a lot of junk in the home, especially in hoarding type situations, do a thorough cleaning of those items before hiring an estate sale company to come in. Be careful though not to throw away items that may have unknown value. Clear out the clutter, not the collectibles.

There is no regulatory body that oversees the estimated 14,000 estate sale companies, so before hiring one of them you should do some research. You can search the website of The American Society of Estate Liquidators, a trade association that requires its members to meet certain education requirements and abide by an ethics code. Be sure to check your local Better Business Bureau and Yelp for complaints about companies you are considering. You can also ask for references or attend a sale run by the company. In addition, make sure your liquidator carries insurance in case there are any accidents while buyers are at the estate sale. Finally, you should make sure the company offers a written contract.

Questions to ask any prospective liquidating company include how it handles security, what happens to goods that aren’t sold, and what type of clean-up is included. Families need to make sure they remove from the house anything they want to keep before they call in the liquidators.

Whenever conducting an estate sale, you should be mindful of the potential liability of somebody’s injured on the premises. Keep the homeowner’s insurance in place on the premises until such time as it is sold. In addition, you should hire an estate sale company that has liability and workman’s compensation coverage, so that if somebody is injured on the premises they will have coverage against any actions on their part that may have caused an accident.

Be careful of companies requesting to purchase assets from the estate. These could be items of higher value and they are they may be trying to acquire them at a discount. Research any items they may want to purchase on their own. Such requests are an inherent conflict of interest on the part of the estate sale company.

Some estate sale organizations may wish be compensated via a lump sum payment of a certain amount. It may be that the personal property is of such insufficient value that this type of arrangement may make sense. It’s an offer is made like that, it is recommended that you get a second opinion though.

Be prepared that cleanup cost are typically not included within the estate sale contract, nor are efforts to donate or dispose of any items not purchased at the estate sale. If you desire though services, make sure that those are negotiated in the contract. Otherwise, they will be your responsibility.

Another caution is to be realistic. Many people believe that personal property has a great deal more value than it actually does in the open market. For instance, Hummels used to garner a higher price tag and they do now. As time goes by, the value for certain items change drastically.

Lastly, it is usually recommended that family members not be present during the estate sale. Many times, the comments made or amounts received for certain personal property can hurt the feelings of family members. In addition, persons that attend estate sales may feel a little funny purchasing items from family members who have lost a loved one. It’s better to let the professionals handle the process.

Categories: Estates & Trusts
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