Category Archives: How Do Estate Sales Work
I have been thinking about the word, Best, lately. What makes a company the “Best”. What makes a sale the “Best”. What make a buyer the “Best”. It is an adjective defined as : of most excellent, effective or desirable type of quality. But how do we determine the “Best” when evaluating all of the items we evaluate week to week.
Is it the “Best” you have ever seen? But if you have only seen two of something, does that mean you know the difference. However, if you have seen hundreds of something and this particular one is the “Best” then does that interpret to a higher price? Maybe, maybe not. The real price indicator is will the collector who is buying the “Best” pay more for this item because it is the most excellent of it’s kind. All things being equal, the answer would be yes. So as a liquidator the price would be higher for the “Best”. One of the important parts of this discussion is that as the liquidator you need to know what the “Best” is in a particular group or property. A fair price cannot be made if the seller doesn’t know what the “Best” is. Everything that a liquidator deals with must be graded either by the seller or even perhaps sent away for an expert opinion.
So not only is the liquidator evaluating the items for sale he/she must be constantly educating themselves in the good, better, best in the world of personal property. It is a never ending process. But each time we see something new, learn something more, we become more secure in our knowledge which in turn helps to make each of us the BEST at what we do.
It seems that every week we receive press releases or Google Alerts about new businesses being formed around “estate sales”.
From franchises for liquidators, to new estate sale listing websites, to associations and societies for estate liquidators, and other businesses such as clean out companies, relocation services, there is an endless generation of businesses, not to mention the daily growth of more and more estate sale companies. These services and many others are being created for the growing number of baby boomers retiring and the desire to become an entrepreneur.
What started in the early 2000’s with one estate sale listing company and one small association created by a veteran liquidator that had written a code of ethics and online courses for becoming an estate liquidator, we now have explosive growth in the estate sale company business.
So many websites offer you the opportunity to locate an estate sale company through their website having researched these liquidators and signed a code of ethics or agreed to a list of good business practices.
All of this brings to the forefront the absolute need for you – the perspective seller, to do your due diligence. We are unaware of any company or group that has any authority other than to chastise and remove a company from their website and list. We encourage sellers to read and research through these various companies for estate liquidators, but the final choice and what you need should be based on conversations with prior clients of the individual estate sale company.
Even with thousands of estate sale companies, there are so many baby boomers on the move, many companies are already booked until August. Let’s do a brief review of what is truly important.
Be sure to ask about their experience. There is nothing wrong with new estate sale companies as long as they have previous experience working side by side with another experienced estate liquidator. An apprenticeship if you will. During the time that they work with someone with knowledge and experience they should learn about staging (or set-up) of the sale, recognizing what is being sold and pricing (general household) usually is priced by what prices are being reallized at other sales in your area, and of course knowing where to research unique, rare, unusual, or antique items. It is also important to have a certified appraiser that an estate sale company can use as well.
Ask about their education in the estate sale business, but it takes more than just reading and answering tests. Experience gained with a working estate liquidator is important.
It is beneficial to be able to speak with past clients. Written testimonials are helpful, but speaking with a client that they worked for within the last year is also a key component to deciding on whether or not you may want to hire them. Ask about their overall experience, but keep in mind financial results aren’t always the deciding factor. Were they on time, responsible, insured, and did they do what they agreed to. They may provide you with a brochure which is a great way to lay out their services. Keep that for future reference. Ask them if they have memberships with any associations or societies and if so what that means for you.
Do a complete review with them of their contract. If they don’t have a contract simply put – look at another company. If you are unsure of the contract ask to take it to your attorney so that all parties understand and begin the process with a good working relationship. Make certain that everyone understands what will and won’t be in the sale and if there is a penalty for removing something after the sale begins. If everyone is on the same page when the estate sale process starts it helps relieve stress and can forge a good working relationship between client and estate liquidator.
It is always important to look at any estate sales a company may be holding and if possible visit a company during a sale. Observation can be very informative.
Do not make the mistake of choosing an estate sale company by commission. That should be the “last” consideration.
This is just a quick review. For more information look at the orange tab on the top left side of our Front Page. How To Choose An Estate Sale Company.
No one can guarantee you that the estate sale company you choose will be perfect. All any company or group can do is remove them from the website and discontinue their membership. What matters is that you, the client, did your due diligence so that your final decision was yours. It is your financial bottom line and your responsibility. If you have questions contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org We welcome your questions and comments. Please visit us on Facebook and Twitter and check out our Pinterest page.
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.