Tips On Choosing An Estate Sale Company – Editorial By Carol Madden

Estate Sales News

Editorial, by Carol Madden – Editor and Publisher of

Over the last two weeks Estate Sales News has published questions and responses from estate sale listing websites and from estate sale associations, societies, and others offering education and membership. We are very grateful for their participation to help you – the public.

It is time to address a growing problem with estate sale sellers. What is an estate sale? What are realistic expectations from an estate sale company and from an estate sale held for you? What should you be doing or not doing before and during the estate sale?

Let’s address these topics.

An estate sale is not a garage sale. A garage sale is 99.9% run by sellers/owners to shed items of little value (most of the time) that they want to rid themselves of. Often times for under $5 and in many instances for under $1. Most aren’t researched, staged, or advertised professionally. A garage sale can gross anywhere from $50 to $1000 on average although a lot depends on how much and what is in the sale. When finished whatever is left either is put out at the curb, or taken to Goodwill or the Salvation Army if acceptable by these organizations.

Realistic expectations in today’s estate sale market vary from town to town, city to city and state to state. In some areas where there aren’t a great many estate sales and the people in the community are willing to open their wallets and spend money, they can be very productive. When you are in an area where there are 50-200 estate sale companies this all changes. Competition is tough, what are they selling on behalf of their clients (today so many baby boomers – millions of them are downsizing, eliminating most of their belongings to either travel, get a fresh start, or in some cases selling off the contents of a relative’s effects).

If you are going to hire a professional estate sale company to handle the liquidation of your personal contents or a relatives’ make sure you are not just hiring an estate sale company without having done your due diligence. That means that although you have checked with any association, society, or membership organization you – the seller have researched on the internet for reviews, you have had an actual conversation with at least two (if possible) of their former clients, and you have satisfied yourself that all avenues have been checked. Just being a member of the BBB (Better Business Bureau) or Angies List and others is no guarantee. To better understand the BBB here is a link to Wikipedia. Please take the time to read and enlighten yourself. Here is the link to Angies List to read as well. If you are using an association or society of any type make sure that they have actually conducted estate sales. Just providing a list of estate sale companies without having worked in the business isn’t enough.

Make sure that when you are ready to hire an estate liquidator, you are truly ready. Anything you want to keep has been taken out or set aside in a safe secure place. Show them only what will be in the estate sale and if they tell you they cannot conduct your sale, don’t take it personally. Every estate sale company has costs that they have to meet every month or for some every week and if they feel that your sale will not achieve good results for you and them, appreciate their honesty and call another company. Each company is different and has different requirements like any other business. Remember that in today’s liquidation market many of the hot items of yesterday are not hot today. Like everything furnishings are cyclical. For instance brown furniture – mahogany, fruit wood, etc. aren’t selling or if they are, at significantly lower prices. Don’t blame your estate sale company. Remember the more they sell for you the more they make as well.

Please – don’t start pulling things out of a sale. If you did what you should, you took the time to sort through things, pull out those items that are either emotionally attached to you or valuable and the estate sale company took your sale based on that initial walk through. Many do charge you commission on items you pull from the sale. A company has cleaned, priced, staged, and advertised them. They have based what they hope the sell will bring based on what you the seller said would be included. Their work isn’t free so be prepared.

If you truly performed your due diligence in finding your liquidator trust them. Please don’t micro-manage or want to hang over their shoulder. The press has a habit of only publicizing the estate sale companies that may have been a problem – shock and awe syndrome. They don’t cover the 1000’s of estate sale companies that are honest, hardworking, and in many cases giving their time and energy in their local communities to assist those in need or could use some help. This isn’t to say every company is honest and has integrity, but if you, the seller, did your homework, you should be in a position of trust.

When you make your decision to have a sale, review all the items we have discussed above. ATt the top of our front page is a tab in orange – Choosing an estate sale company. It has a drop down menu to assist you with a printable list.

Estate Sales News does not recommend or endorse any estate sale company. We are not an attorney and we do not give legal advice. We are here to empower you, enlighten you, assist you, and provide resources for you to use at no cost.

One other thought – IKEA and others may offer new items, but what quality are you buying, and how long will it last? Take time to think about this before you drive by an estate sale and shop elsewhere. You’ll probably be glad you did.