The “Cost” Of Conducting A House Or Estate Sale, By Judy Martin, ISA, CAPP

Judith Martin, ISA CAPPJudith Martin, ISA, CAPP.

Lately, I have been thinking about the “COST” of conducting a house sale. What does it take financially to conduct a sale in someone’s home.

Starting with payroll, in order to have a staff that can work fast and hard both in the set up and the selling of items the conductor needs to pay them a reasonable wage. If you begin at minimum wage – $10.00 per hour and the employee works for 2 days setting up at 6 hours per day as well as two days of the sale at 8 hour minimum, that makes each employee’s wage $200 for the sale. This of course is a sale that is easy to set and sell. If the sale is a large one then you have to figure the payroll just goes up and up. But for this example I am going to use a simple sale – 3 employees (not including the principles of the company) x $200 for the sales is $600 payroll.

Next you will need supplies – a set of 5 non carbon sales books cost $14 approx. You might need 10 total for sale. Plus you need pricing stickers – a pkg of white removable stickers cost $7. each. So for this purpose, a trip to the office supply store will cost you $80.

Then you have to consider the town you are working in – is there a permit needed. Did you cover in the contract that the client pays the permit? If not, that cost can be $60 per sale in a town that requires a permit, such as Oak Park, IL. There goes some more money out of your pocket.

If this is a new business for you, you will need table, cloths, display items, string tags, secured diplay boxes (so your shoppers cannot help themselves) – all costing you more and more money.

And what about after the sale – what does it cost you to get all the items out of the house? How many hours of labor does it take to wrap and take the items that are saleable. How much does it cost to have the refuse taken away? How much does it cost to have a person stay and sweep up after everything is removed? And who is removing the items? A moving company or you in your own vehicle. This all costs money!

Oh, and of course you have to consider the cost of advertising. If you belong to a website, there is a monthly fee for that. If you have a special sale then that cost just went up from maybe $100 a month to an additional $200 just for this one sale – all costs against your profit.

All of these fees and costs do not inlcude: databases you subscribe to, books you buy for research, t-shirts or uniforms you might use, phone service, credit card fees, bank fees, gas, tolls, and all sorts of items you have to take into account when figuring out what commission to charge so that you actually might make some money to put in your own pocket.

The estate sales business is not for the faint of heart. It is also not a charity, it is a business – you are intending to make a profit. When you consider what to charge as your fee, you must consider all of these things and more.

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