Category Archives: Estate Sale Contracts
If you are planning on having an estate sale, right now is the time to start looking for the estate liquidator to work for you.
Lets review some basics and then you can use our printable list to assist you helping you with all the steps in the process. Look for the link on the top of our Front Page How to Choose an Estate Sale Company for more details and also a host of information including estate sale contracts.
- Ask your family, friends, neighbors, Realtor or attorney if they know a liquidator they would recommend and be sure to ask why.
- Look at the estate sale listing websites, EstateSales.Net EstateSales.org, Estatesale.com and Estatesale.company. These four companies feature the most estate sale companies that are listed on the internet across the country. They also feature their current or upcoming estate sales (you may want to attend some estate sales).
- After reviewing estate liquidators on these websites and looking at their sales listed take time to look for internet reviews.
- Call at least three companies to conduct an initial phone interview. Decide if you would be interested in pursuing these liquidators and inviting them to your property where the estate sale would take place. Once you have at least two or three companies, set up appointments well spaced apart to walk them through the property and discuss their services afterwards.
- When you sit down with the estate sale company to discuss work, fees or commissions, availability dates for a sale, length of sale, set-up etc., be sure they completely review their contract with you. Ask questions, and do not hesitate to seek legal advice if you are unsure of the contract.
- Once you have decided on a liquidator and have done your due diligence remember you have based your choice on the best information possible, that they are professional in what they do and ask them what if anything you can do to assist.
- Now it is time to let them get to work and do their job. Don’t micromanage and only step in with a genuine concern.
These are the very basics for your search for an estate sale company. Never a 100% guarantee, but with so many thousands of reputable, experienced, knowledgeable estate sale companies out there you have done your best. Now let your estate sale company do their best for you.
With Christmas eve less than a week away Estate Sales News wants to look back at what was under the tree this year for us and our estate sale going audience. This truly is a labor of love and we have enjoyed all the opportunities it has presented.
In February 2014 Estate Sales News flew to Memphis, TN to report on the 2014 Estate Sales Conference sponsored by EstateSales.Net and we were a guest speaker at the conference discussing the basics of the estate sale contract. Since late February we have presented many articles on this most important topic and answered numerous requests from sellers and estate liquidators for more information, keeping in mind we are not an attorney and we do not give legal advice.
We have been to California on several occasions to report on a variety of estate sales including one with the crown of a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, a massive sale of multiple collections from a National Geographic photographer and Indian Agent from the 1920’s to name a few.
We have also covered two estate sales (one including an auction) in Michigan. A fantastic collection of Mid-Century Modern furnishings, Jensen sterling, art glass, and more in Midland and another sale that included a large taxidermy auction in Portland, MI.
We had the delightful pleasure of visiting with Judy Martin, nationally known appraiser and estate liquidator at a fabulous sale in a Chicago suburb who provided great information about the estate sale industry and what’s selling as well as her sale for a famous Chicago artist.
Along with our travels, we have interviewed several estate sale companies across the country with unique sales, spoken to the owners of several national estate sale listing websites about the changes they are making to their websites to meet the increasing needs of a rapidly growing liquidation industry and the evolution of the estate sale business.
One of our larger projects this year was writing about How To Choose An Estate Sale Company. We covered in depth what to look for as well as providing a printable list to assist you in the process of finding and hiring an estate sale company.
Estate Sales News has featured articles on the sale of ivory, sales tax, inheritance tax, as well as featured guest articles from Julie Hall, nationally known owner, director of the American Society of Estate Liquidators (ASEL), Lofty.com (a new way of liquidating items that may not be a perfect fit in an estate sale) and of course we have produced many videos from estate sales and liquidation specialists and appraisers.
We have also been been included as a resource by EstateSales.Net for the 7,000 companies listed with them and shared our information with ASEL and other online resources.
Along with good news we have reported on some estate liquidation companies that were not typical of this great industry.
Majolica, gesso, and ormolu were some of the educational topics we wrote about.
We have featured a ThrowBack Thursday feature for most of the year.
Our thanks to EstateSale.company for sharing interesting articles from their collectors corner.
It’s been quite a year at EstateSalesNews.com and we thank everyone mentioned above along with all those who have assisted us in providing a free service to sellers looking to hire estate sale companies, buyers, and estate liquidators.
As the Editor and writer for EstateSalesNews.com it is with great pride to share this overview of some of what we have provided to our audience.
We will be taking some time now to spend with our family for this Christmas season. Please feel free to look into our nearly two years of archival information.
From our house to yours EstateSalesNews.com wishes you a Christmas of joy and happiness the blessings of family and friends.
At this stage you have interviewed estate liquidators, listened to their presentations, and reviewed the contract line by line with them (if you haven’t you aren’t ready to make a decision yet and it is part of their job to explain their contract, what’s in it and why).
During the presentation they should have reviewed their experience, advertising, staffing, security measures, crowd control procedures and researching methods. As a seller (heir, attorney, Realtor, family) you should have decided what will and won’t be in the sale. If there are several people involved in the decision, make sure that you are all in agreement with the what is and isn’t for sale as well as the choice for the estate sale company. They should have been present at the walk thru and presentation if at all possible. Any personal issues should be worked out prior to the interview and finally the choice of estate liquidators. All parties involved should sign and date the estate sale contract to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion.
When choosing your estate sale company consider your interviews, did they arrive on time, their appearance and manner during the tour of the property and presentation, the responses you received to any questions you asked and did they give you complete answers, and how you felt towards the individual(s) you met. Be sure to ask them before signing the contract if they will be present and running the sale or assigning it to a team member. If that is the case you should meet and speak with the team member that will be running your sale. Some estate sale companies send the owner of the company to the tour of the property and presentation and then that will be the last time you see them. It is important for you to know ahead of signing any estate sale contract or agreement. They will be handling your money. Also ask how they pay you, when and about the clean out (do they perform clean outs or have a company that does and is there an extra charge, etc.). Not all estate sale companies perform clean outs, but this should not be the deciding issue either.
Now after weighing all the information you have garnered ask yourself who was best qualified as well as someone you could have a business relationship with. Your last consideration should be the commission or fee charged. The adage “you get what you pay for” is very true in the estate sale business so let the commission be your last concern not your first.
After careful review and consideration an you have made your decision call your choice for an estate sale company and ask them to come over so you can sign the contract and review available dates. This is also the time to ask any last minute questions.
Tomorrow – What’s the next step in the estate sale process. The work begins.
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During their presentation the most important discussion that will take place is the estate sale contract. A word of advice, if they don’t have a written contract end your discussion. This is protection for both parties.
Disclaimer – Estate Sales News and Carol Madden, Editor are not attorneys. We do not provide legal advice. The information presented here is based on 25 years of estate liquidation business experience. Please consult an attorney for legal advice or contract legalities.
Our website will have a printable list shortly of topics that should be covered in an estate sale contract. Please watch for it.
Most every estate sale company has a contract that they like to use. What we present here are basics that should be included in the contract for your protection and theirs and to prevent misunderstandings and hopefully provide simplicity and clarity for a successful business relationship. Yes hiring a professional estate company does create a business relationship because money at some point will be involved and payment will be made on the results of the sale.
1) We recommend that at the top of the estate sale contract should be the estate sale company’s name, address, and telephone number.
2) The beginning of the contract should state the date of the contract, the contract is between (the name of the estate sale company) and a blank space ____________ to be filled in by the party or parties hiring and responsible (seller, heir(s), attorney, executor(s). If it involves more than one individual make sure to include all names.
3) The next section should include a statement about who, what, and where – the company (name) agrees to conduct an estate/house/tag/moving sale on ________ (this will be the dates chosen for the sale) at _________(the full address of where the sale will take place) and the estate sale company may include the county and state (if they work in an area where their company crosses state lines).
4) Another paragraph should include the necessity of having electricity and water on at the premises for the entire time (from staging through clean out). This should be the responsibility of the party or parties hiring the estate sale company. This is for safety and sanitation. This is also a paragraph where many companies that work in areas that receive snow or ice should be specific as to who is responsible for plowing driveways and shoveling sidewalks and providing sand/salt. Again these are safety issues and everyone part of the contract should know their responsibilities.
5) An important paragraph is the one that states clearly and concisely the commission or fee the estate sale company is charging on the gross proceeds of the sale. This part of the contract should also include whether the estate sale company has a minimum they are charging (some companies do and some don’t that is up to them and your choice if you accept or decline). All this information should be clear and understandable.
6) We recommend that a contract include a cancellation policy that will spell out in detail what happens if the contract is cancelled. (This includes a time line and any monetary penalty that an estate sale company may charge). If a company does not charge a penalty this should be included as well.
7) A paragraph about advertising the sale should be included in the contract and it should clearly state who will be paying for the advertising.
8) A disclaimer should be in the estate sale contract that an estate sale company cannot make guarantees of the gross proceeds of the sale, but will attempt (or, however, they choose to state it) to obtain the best possible results. Each company usually has specific wording for this.
9) When hiring a professional estate liquidation company you may see a paragraph that specifies who will be responsible for pricing and selling the items in the sale. **If you have price concerns about certain items discuss this during the walk through or during the presentation. Most estate sale companies have a wealth of experience and knowledge and know the market, but you should express any concerns you have about prices before signing the contract.
10) A big concern for estate sale liquidators is the removal of items that were originally going to be included in the sale and then removed or sold prior to the liquidation by the party hiring the estate sale company. A paragraph that specifically outlines what happens and any commissions or fees that will be charged on removed items is usually included. Many companies have an addendum to their contract for items that are either to be excluded or for which a decision has not been made. Most estate sale companies have a policy to charge for items removed from a sale after the signing of the contract that were not noted during the presentation. Remember estate sale companies start advertising and often attract buyers with some items. If they are removed from the liquidation sale prior to the start this affects their reputation with buyers and their financial bottom line.
11) There should be a paragraph that includes who has liability for the property and the customers attending the sale. The property should always have a homeowners (or similar) type of insurance policy as well as we recommend that the estate sale company have their own liability policy. Stating specifically who is responsible is important.
12) Most estate sale companies will include a paragraph that details what takes place after the sale with any goods left over and who is responsible for their disposal. Any additional charges and the amount should be included in this section of the contract.
13) The bottom of the contract should include signature lines for the estate sale company and parties hiring the company and also have lines for both to date.
Estate sale contracts can have many other important inclusions including whether a company is licensed, insured, or bonded and other areas of concern. Many companies have their contracts written by their attorney.
The above areas are presented as basics we consider important in an estate sale contract and can be worded differently or excluded by individual companies or attorneys.
* Please be sure to read our use and privacy page with regard to any articles or intellectual property on EstateSalesNews.com
Estate sale companies do everything they can to completely sell your contents out, but that doesn’t always happen. Unable to control weather conditions, market conditions, and property location an estate liquidator may not be able to sell all the contents of a property.
What happens when there are leftovers?
Many estate sale companies offer clean outs. Some have even started an additional phase of their business just to perform clean outs. They may include it in their commission or it may be an additional charge. This is a discussion that should take place when reviewing the estate sale contract with the estate liquidator. Other estate liquidators hire a company that will perform the clean out for you. The fee the company will charge should be divulged before signing the estate sale contract. In this case you may be paying the company directly or it may be deducted from the net proceeds of the sale. Some estate sale companies may take more valuable items on consignment if they have a shop or sell online if they do not sell at the sale.
If your estate liquidation company does not do clean outs there are companies you can call. One nation wide name is 1-800-Got-Junk. (This is not an endorsement, simply an example).
Leaving a property broom clean is very important in many cases when the property has been sold or is going up for sale.
Ask your estate sale company if they have a list of charities also.
Estate Sales News would like to hear from companies that specialize in clean outs. You can email us at carol@estatesalesnews.
It’s Wednesday, October 16th, the month and week are half over. Estate sales start tomorrow.
Estate Sales News included all these different terms for estate sales because they apply depending on your location in the United States.
If you are moving or downsizing and not taking most of your belongings with you there are some important steps to follow.
Decide what you want or will need where you are going. Pack those items and if possible arrange to store them in a storage facility, with a friend or in one room of the property that can be securely closed off.
Once your personal items are packed away it is time to find your estate sale company or estate liquidator. Following guidelines provided here on EstateSalesNews.com (for choosing your estate liquidator) when you show your chosen company through they will be seeing the items to be sold. Estate sale companies have to make decisions about excepting or passing on a sale based on the amount and type of items to be sold to see how that will affect there balance sheet. They have a variety of costs including monthly exposure (internet), advertising, staffing, etc. to consider.
A word of advice to sellers. Please don’t feel it’s personal if a an estate sale company turns you down. They are a business and make business decisions. These may be personal items to you, but for them it is whether they can make a profit to provide for their families and themselves.
A topic that has been an on going problem for many estate sale companies and sellers is when the seller(s)s decide after an estate sale company has gone through the property, prepped all the items to be sold and priced and the seller decides they want to take some of those item(s) with them. Sellers your job is to look carefully and thoroughly through everything ahead of asking a liquidator to come to your property and remove any possible items you may want. You can always change your mind and give them to the estate sale company to sell, but removing anything that was to be included in the sale and priced is not good business. Many estate sale companies have a paragraph in the contract allowing for the charging of a commission on items that were to be in the sale and removed. The commission is usually based on what the item would have sold for on the opening day of the sale.
When you are moving or downsizing take your time and go room to room and if necessary box to box in the attic or basement and choose what items you will be taking with you and leave the rest for the estate sale company. Don’t throw anything out. Let your chosen professional make that determination. If you have done your due diligence, made the best choice possible and have trust and confidence in your estate liquidator let the estate sale or event commence.
- The next paragraph should deal with pricing and selling. The estate sale liquidator your hire is a professional and should be in charge of the pricing and selling. However, during the walk through of the property it is advisable to ask a potential seller about any particular items they are concerned with in regard to price. This is when an estate liquidator may have to determine whether to accept the sale or not and also if the seller wants to hire that liquidator. Both parties should be in agreement and it is recommended if there is an item to two of concern that those be included on an addendum to the contract with relation to price. Of course, a wise choice by a seller is to accept bids and decide towards the end if they may rethink their position on an item they had concern with price. It should also be noted that many estate sale companies will not work with price issues and that is perfectly acceptable as well. “initial”
- This paragraph is controversial, but of major importance to all parties. If a seller removes any items that were to be in the sale after the contract was signed or sold prior to the sale also after the contract was signed what are the ramifications. This paragraph should clearly state what the estate sale company policy is and if the seller will be charged a commission (state the amount if you are going to do this) based on the price the item would be marked or not. Estate sale companies base their decision to accept or reject a sale on the contents shown to them at the time of the contract signing. They have advertising and staff costs. Any items that are in question or a family member may wish to have should be removed prior to the signing of the contract or specified to the estate sale company. The removal of items after the fact is detrimental to a good working relationship and financial results for both parties. It also complicates the opening of the sale when the liquidator has to inform the waiting buyers lined up that items have been removed. “initial”
- The next paragraph in the contract deals with liability insurance. The seller(s) whoever they are must have a liability policy on the property for their protection and the estate sale company’s protection. The estate sale liquidator should also have their own liability policy.
- The contract should also state that seller(s) (owners, executors, heirs attorney), agree to not hold the estate liquidation company or their staff liable for damage or liability to persons or property (real or otherwise) before, during, or immediately after the sale. Again the reason for all parties to have liability insurance. “initial”
- This paragraph deals with the disposal or removal of any items not sold. It should clearly state who will be responsible and if there is a fee.
- It should be stated in the contract that if any permits are required who will obtain and pay for the permits.
- The last basic we will cover for an estate sale contract is the part for signature of all parties involved and dates.
Having a blank lined addendum for additional information, considerations, etc. is always a good practice. Many estate sale companies advertise being bonded and insured. The addendum is a good place for this information to be included, but sellers be sure to ask about the type of bond an estate sale company has. See our archives for information on bonded and insured.
We have only covered what we consider the basics of an estate sale contract. As stated Wednesday, we are not an attorney and we do not give legal advice. The information provided is based on our 25 years in the personal property liquidation business. Every estate sale company has their own requirements, often based on state and municipality laws. The basics provided are intended as guidelines and assistance.
For the benefit of sellers and estate sale companies we present some of the topics of concern to both. Clarity in an estate liquidation contract can prevent misunderstandings and reduce stress. Estate Sales News is not an attorney and we do not give legal advice. The information presented is based on 25 plus years of estate liquidation experience. Please consult an attorney for legal advice or contract legalities.
Next to some areas you will see the word “initial”. This is to insure that all parties have read and agreed to the content of the paragraph. That way all parties are working on the same “page” so to speak.
- The contract should be dated and contain the dates and times of the estate sale or event.
- It should also contain the complete address of the sale.
- The contract should clearly state who the seller or responsible party is (whether it is an attorney acting for the estate, heir, family member, or even a Realtor).
- The contract should specify that the property has electric and water and working plumbing that is available before, during and until the estate sale is over and the estate sale company has vacated the property entirely. This is for safety of all and sanitation. “initial”
- Following this section would also be the place to include snow or ice removal and who is responsible if that is an issue in your area. “initial”
- The next section should be specific about the commission or fee that is to be paid from the gross proceeds ( percentage or amount) at the end of the sale. If the liquidator works on a minimum fee this should be in this section as well. “initial”
- The next section would deal with cancellation of the sale. This depends on the estate sale company, however, many contracts include a cancellation clause with a specific fee. If work has been done by the estate liquidator and staff and advertisements have been made they should be compensated for their time and expenses. Each company operates differently. If the contract has this clause “initial”.
- Next would come advertising and who is responsible for payment of the ads.
At this point in the contract it is advisable to let the seller(s) know that the company will make all possible attempts to achieve the best possible financial results, however, they cannot make any guarantees of the prices or of the gross sale total. An estate liquidation company cannot control weather, attendance, market conditions or other competition in the area. All they can do is make their best effort and that is why sellers, it is up to you to make your estate liquidator choice having done your do diligence to find the estate sale company you feel will be the most successful and professional. As a seller you have a responsibility to so make sure you take time to research, become informed, and make the best choice possible.
Please note that every estate liquidator chooses a contract that works for them. There is more for our discussion on Thursday, however, many contracts from estate sale companies will contain more and many may contain less.
Estate Sales News is here as a resource. Some may agree others may not, but getting out matters of public concern and interest as well presenting the views and concerns of estate liquidators and sellers is what this news magazine is here for.
It is important that all parties understand their responsibilities and obligations.
Preventing stress and tension between sellers and estate liquidators during this process is important.