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How Does An Estate Sale Work (And Is It REALLY Worth It?)

The average American home holds an average of 300,000 individual items.

Estate sales are held to bring in buyers into a home so that items that are not in use can be sold.

This is especially common during extraordinary circumstances such as the death of the homeowner, bankruptcy, divorce, and even long-distance relocations.

But how do estate sales work?

Read on to learn everything about them and if they are worth it.

How It Works

There are two ways to go about an estate sale. The first is by handling it yourself, start to finish.

The second one is by hiring a professional estate sale firm to execute the sale for you.

In either sale, the condo, house or apartment is opened to the public. The idea is for people to walk through and find items of interest they would like to purchase.

You can have multiple selling days if the sales are slow. In terms of numbers, weekends and public holidays are the best times to hold these events.

We shall focus on both the DIY estate sale as well as one managed by an estate liquidator.

How Do Estate Sales Work: DIY

While the process is lengthy and intricate, with sound planning, an estate sale can successfully be handled by an individual or a group of individuals.

This is how to go about it.

1. Search the home

A home search is more of taking inventory and uncovering items that are not easy to find.

People tend to keep valuable items in closets, drawers, cabinets and in bookshelves. Go through this, as well as attic, basements, crawl spaces and so on.

2. Secure personal items

If an item is personal or valuable, secure it. This applies to family heirlooms, photographs, firearms, financial records, as well as diaries and journals.

Any items you might also not want to sell should be secured or removed from the house.

3. Take photos of what remains

Take pictures or video of what is left for the sale. This is important should you need to confirm anything post-sale. It’s also an easier way to catalog the items.

4. Advertise

You will want to get as many people to view the items as possible. This will call for some advertising.

Start with your friends, family, and neighbors, colleagues. You can also do posts of your social media pages and on other community websites that have good numbers.

5. Set up displays around the home

This is basically staging the items you want to be seen.

You can leave artwork, wall hangings, and furniture where they are. For kitchen items, clothing, toys, and so on, you might need to draw special attention to them.

The same case applies to much smaller, valuable items such as jewelry. For these, have a display table next to the check-out station.

Ensure to arrange items in the house in a way that buyers can easily move from one room to the next.

If there is too much clutter, ensure to have this removed before the day of the sale.

6. Price all items

Because you do not want to be pulled in different directions to give prices, ensure to conspicuously label each item on sale.

Ensure to put some thought into the pricing. If you are too low, you will be shortchanging yourself. If you are too high, you will scare off buyers and make dismal sales.

State a fair price and leave some room for buyers to negotiate.

Estate Sale Using an Estate Liquidator

Because the circumstances around an estate sale are often unpleasant, most people find it much easier to engage an estate liquidator.

Having the process professionally handled can allow you the space to handle other matters, streamline the process, and make a better return.

If you are pressed for time, you can greatly benefit from engaging a firm that has handled this process numerous times before because they know exactly how to go about it.

What to Expect

To get started, take it upon yourself to remove any items that you do not want to be sold.

If you are undertaking this process after the death of a loved one, it would be advisable to have all members of the immediate family have a say in what to sell vs. what to keep.

Once you contact an estate sale firm, they will send a representative who will visit and assess the items in the home. The representative will assess if there is good value to be gotten from this sale.

If there is, the company representatives will then price your items starting at $1. They will then take photographs of all inventory and write descriptions for their website.

These photos and descriptions will be used in the company’s advertising platforms.

The company will also host an open house day when bidders will them come to your home to physically see the items.

On viewing days, the estate company will staff your house with people to assist buyers and ensure your items are safe.

The company will then manage all transactions and pickups

After the sale, the company will then send you a percentage of the sales proceeds as per your contract with them.

However, the onus is on yourself to dispose of the items that remain after the sale. Some of your options would be to discard them or donate them to charity.

As you can see, this option allows a third party to take over the day to day planning and execution of the estate sale process. Learn more here.

It is convenient

Aside from the planning aspect of it, hiring an estate liquidator is extremely convenient for people that have to move out of town hastily.

The same goes for those that live out of town, and have to carry out this process on behalf of their departed ones.

After the Sale

If you have been asking ‘how do estate sales work’? We hope that this article has given you some valuable insights.

After the sale, it will then be upon you to consolidate the funds realized from the sale and channel them appropriately.

Check out our other articles on real estate for more insights.