Category Archives: Learn About Estate Sales

Estate Sale Or Auction – What Works For You

gavelEstate Sale signTwenty plus years ago most rural areas in the United States used the auction method of selling off the contents of a deceased persons’ estate. It was held on site and would last one or two days. Most auctioneers back then did not charge a buyer premium (only the seller paid a commission to the auctioneer) and most had no reserve. Only the large exclusive auction houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonham, and Skinner held high end and speciality auctions.

Today let’s look at the small auction companies and estate sale companies.

Many estate sale companies have branched out into the auction business as well. They have done this for several reasons, particularly when an onsite estate sale cannot be held, there is too little in the estate to sell at an estate sale, and they can combine multiple small estates into a one day or evening event. In many cases this also provides them the ability to charge not only the seller a commission, but a buyer premium as well (a set percentage of the gross sale of the item purchased). The opportunity to possibly attract a larger audience is another factor.

There are estate sale companies that have also branched out to conduct online auctions. They do not require a brick and mortar building to conduct the auction, merely the space to store the items for sale and eventual shipment. This has become an alternative when some items fail to sell at an estate sale for various reasons and they are looking for a broader audience.

There are still more estate sale companies than auction companies and online auctions. With the rise in unemployment several years ago and the internet presence of estate sale listing sites this has greatly increased the number of estate sale liquidators. Many estate sale listing sites started off listing only estate sales and now include auctions and online auctions as all these businesses increase.

With the estate sale process one of the prime differences is that almost all take place at the property and no commission is charged to the buyer. The estate sale company has a fiduciary relationship with the seller. They work solely for them. When hired they are given access to the property to stage and price the items to be sold, and conduct a two, three or four day sale. Pricing is done before the sale. Although bids may be excepted on some items the majority of what is at the estate sale is sold based on prices determined by the estate sale company. The seller and estate sale company will have a contract that details the work to be done by the liquidator and requirements of the seller including whether the estate sale liquidator will leave the property “broom cleaned” (all unsold items removed). In most cases the only items for sale are those of the “seller(s)”. Like an auction company they have staff to assist before and during the sale.

Some hold to the concept that expensive items cannot be sold at an estate sale, however, your editor knows of several estate sale companies from the east coast to the west coast that have had sales into 6 figures and sold items in 6 figures. Many factors are involved including the area and advertising. Both estate sale companies and auctions market extensively.

The choice becomes what will work best in your region. Both methods can provide successful financial results, however, it is important to review the auction or estate sale companies you are considering, do your due diligence and choose the company that you feel will work best “with” you.

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Working With An Estate Sale With Mold, Smoke, Pet Odor Or Dust

household cleaner with rubber gloves bucket and sponge..It is rare as an estate liquidator not to encounter a property that may have a mold, smoke, pet odor or severe dust problem occasionally.

Many estate sale companies will not conduct a sale in such an environment, but just as many companies accept these “challenges”.

Mold is a very serious issue. Just as a mold addendum is required on the sale of a home, dealing with mold is major problem. If it is a very small amount the estate sale company will have to decide if it can be dealt with by bleach or some other cleaner, however, if it is a large area, remediation may be needed and should be the cost of the seller(s). The health of the estate sale company staff as well as buyers is a prime concern along with the sellers’ health.

The smell of smoke and discoloration caused by smokers is another concern. Glass, china, wood, iron, and other non porous surfaces can be cleaned, but eliminating the odor in upholstered furniture can be next to impossible. Cleaning draperies and curtains can be expensive so the cost has to be weighed as to what the items would sell for. In many instances it is better to let them be sold “as is” at a reduced price.

Pet odors and stains are also difficult. Most require professional cleaning and sometimes cannot be removed or eliminated. One recommendation is do not try to disguise the smell. Honesty with pet odors is important.

Many properties that have had elderly owners or people with handicaps have an excessive amount of dust because the owners were unable to keep up with it.  These will require a thorough cleaning and the cleaners should wear masks.

The professional estate sale company will make judgements on these issues and proceed not only in their best interest, but in the best interest of all parties involved.

Where You Advertise Estate Sales Is Very Important -Here’s Why

Estate Sales NewsThere are many websites on the internet specifically for advertising estate sales on. As you will read below when you start putting them on Craigs List and yard and garage sale sites, it can create a real problem with some buyers and bring you unwanted publicity. Before placing your ads ask yourself what is that doing to your estate sale and professionalism.

Every company wants to bring in the most buyers possible, but be careful what you ask for. A Google Alert from a site called Bubblews said ” Estate Sale Was A Bust”. The buyer found an estate sale listing on Craigs List. According to the buyer the ad said 50 years of stuff among them crafts and glassware. She went on to say that when she got to the sale at 10AM she didn’t see any of the crafts or glassware and nothing antique, maybe collectible. She continued on that she really liked some of the china, however, the company would not separate the large collection. She also said that some of the dishes were “way too expensive for a garage sale” costing the full retail price and some there were “Walmart” quality pictures they wanted $35 for.

If you advertise an estate sale on sites like these remember who your buyers may be. This woman called it an estate sale, then a garage sale and compared it to Walmart.

Advertising your estate sales on the right websites is important. Bargain hunters are looking for bargains. An estate sale is not a garage or yard sale.

Avoiding repercussions like this can help you and the estate sale industry. Choose your advertising sites and media wisely and keep it professional for your sellers and your estate sale company.

Estate Sales Or Auctions? What Is The Difference?

Estate Sale signauctionEstate sales and auctions have been a method of disposing of the contents of personal property for many years, however, many companies offer both methods. They can also be used to liquidate commercial contents as well.

Let’s discuss the difference.

An estate sale is where a seller(s), heir, attorney, or family hires an estate sale company to come in, sort through the personal property, set it up on various tables, shelves etc. and price most if not all the items to be sold. The person or persons requesting the sale will pay the estate sale company a portion of the gross proceeds of the sale (commission usually). The sale is advertised for specific dates and times and when the door opens to the property or location of the sale the items have a specific price on them. The buyers do not pay a commission or fee to the estate sale company. Although the buyer may leave a lower price offer (bid) for items, it is at the company’s and seller’s discretion whether to consider or accept the bid(s).

Auctions have been around for hundreds of years, however, it is an entirely different method of selling. An auction can take place on the property or at an off site location. The best way to describe an auction comes from Wikipedia. “A process of buying or selling goods or services by offering them up for bids, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder”. Some auctions do contain reserves (a set price, usually by the sellers) which is the minimum acceptable. Auctions usually charge the seller(s) a percentage of the sales and many also charge a buyers premium (a percentage of the cost of the item purchased).

Estate auctions have been used for years in rural America to dispose of the contents of an estate and in more recent times used in metropolitan areas, particularly if the estate contains high value items or the sale of the contents cannot take place on site.

Some confusion exists these days because most websites that were originally for listing estate sales now list auctions and online auctions, however, they still retain the phrase “estate sale”.

Depending on the area, circumstances, and property to be sold, sellers need to choose which method works best for them. Either method can bring financial success. Understanding the difference though is important.

Finding Estate Sales And Estate Sale Companies

questions and answersToday is estate sale Friday so it’s once again the start of another weekend of 1000’s of estate sales across the United States.

Finding estate sales using the internet is easy. Simply type into the search engine you are using the words estate sales. You should find a number of estate sale listing sites including EstateSales.Net,,, and These will usually be the ones on the first page of the search engine. There are more listing sites, however, what they are paying to promote their sites and the number of people using them determines their position on sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

As with any company on the internet, the more people that visit the website, the higher up it appears on the search engine page, but if the company is paying for pay per click, that will alter who is at the top of the page. This also applies to estate sale companies.

When you are looking to find estate sale companies in your area you can look on listing sites, but you can also type in the name of your town and estate sale companies. For example Longwood, Florida estate sale companies, or the name of the state even such as Virginia estate sale companies.

So happy shopping and TGIESF (thank goodness it’s estate sale Friday).

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To all the Dads, grandpas, uncles, and brothers wishes you a wonderful Fathers’ Day.

Sellers Need To Liquidate An Estate? Reducing Your Stress Level

Trust, confidenceIt seems like everywhere you look today, print media or the internet you will find estate sales and for many that represents a stress for the parties needing to sell and buyers looking for bargains.

It is important to remember that an estate liquidation is a process and the estate sale liquidator you choose should help reduce or relieve that stress. However, the job of the estate sale company is to sell the personal contents and possibly (depending on the company and agreement) clean out the premises. It is up to you the seller to choose wisely and then let your professional liquidator do their job.

The stress of losing a loved one difficult and a stressful time for family and heirs, but as a seller(s) let the company you have chosen lessen your burdens of liquidating the personal property.

Buyers, an estate sale is not a garage sale or charitable give away. The estate sale company has a fiduciary relationship with the seller to get the best possible price (just like a Realtor) for the items they are selling. Please remember this is not the Dollar Store. This is the selling of personal property second hand.

Sellers and buyers do your research, please remember that everyone involved wants a pleasant and pleasing experience and keep your perspective about the process.

Somewhere tomorrow estate sales start. Happy shopping.


Estate Sales News will be traveling starting next week and our first stop will be Tuesday in Minnesota.

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Photographs Are An Important Asset To Successful Estate Sales

cameraIn today’s internet world with perspective sellers and buyers having instant access and results to searches for estate sales on the internet taking good photographs which showcase what is included in a sale or event is very important to success.

Estate Sales News reviews numerous liquidation sales daily on various listing sites and many of the photographs we see are not beneficial to the estate liquidator or their sale or event.

Estate Sale Companies along with having knowledge about what items are and are worth, staging know how, selling techniques, and a host of other capabilities also need to know how to take photographs that draw the public to the sale. An estate sale liquidator must wear many hats and be talented to achieve success.

Let’s review a few photographic basics.

An estate sale company should have a good way of taking photos (it can be a simple point and click with built in flash), or tablet (iPad for example) it could also be a smart phone. When going on an appointment for an estate sale if you have any type of lighting equipment or even a clip on light or lamp bring that along. Going prepared is a must. Also bring along a light colored cloth (preferably white) and a dark cloth (black or navy). You never know what kind of backdrop or background you will have available (if any that is usable).

In a hoarder house it is difficult without staging to take good photographs, however, time should be taken to do a quick sort through (on easy to see things) to find a few of the items that will be available and of interest for sale. Create a background that will enhance the item you are photographing. Posting a few good photos with an explanation that as you sort and stage you’ll continue posting more photos. It is better than showing a cluttered mess that appears like the end of a garage sale. Now that estate sale listing sites provide more space for descriptions you can always list many of the items in the sale with “photos to follow as we sort and set-up”. Many estate liquidators have started doing this, however, sadly many just keep posting unflattering photos of piles of clothes, boxes etc.

When you go into a garage, basement, or attic the same approach should be taken. If you really feel that having a photo of large un-staged clutter will attract buyers (a diggers delight some like to call it) then take just one and follow it with a few staged items against a proper backdrop. Be sure to let the buying public know this is before you have started working there.

Buyers pay close attention to photos and nothing can turn a buyer off from pursuing a sale and attending it than poor photography technique.

When you do take photos look to see if the images are sharp. Fuzzy or out of focus photographs do not enhance your future sale.  Watch for glare from the flash or miss placed lighting used. If you’re taking the photo of a mark on porcelain or glass this is particularly important.

Sellers it is always a good practice when you are looking to hire an estate liquidator to look at any current sales they may have posted to see what approach they take to photographing them. Good photography is a key component to attracting buyers and in turn helping to generate a financially successful estate sale.

Advertising On Estate Sales News – Stand Out

Estate Sales NewsAre you looking for a new outlet to advertise on? Stand out from your competition. Be seen.

Have a business restaurant, hotels, airlines, photographers, videographers, suppliers for estate sales, etc. where you have a national audience? No pay per clicks or contracts. Social media used extensively.

Click thru ad right to your website, phone number and an ad created just for you at affordable rates.

Contact about joining the growing number of advertisers here on

Our current advertisers include.


American Society of Estate Liquidators

Crown City Estate Sales, Los Angeles CA.

Epic Auctions and Estate Sales, MI

CRTS (Certified Relocation Transition Specialists) National

Professional Sales RV. TX

Sweetwater Video Service, Longwood, FL

Osteria 177, Annapolis, MD

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BCD video, Los Angeles, CA

Estate Sale Contracts – Basics Continued

Estate Sales NewsContinuing our discussion from Wednesday of estate sale contracts:

  • 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.