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How To Choose An Estate Sale Company – Estate Sale Contract – Part 3

MC900433850Yesterday we discussed the telephone interview and the face to face interview with the estate sale companies you decided might be your best choice to conduct an estate sale for you.

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.

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How To Choose An Estate Sale Company – Part 1

questions and answersThere are 1000’s of estate sale companies across the United States and every day more liquidation companies open for business.

Starting today, Monday, Oct 27th we will go through the steps we think will lead you to your best choice for an estate liquidator.

  1. Where to look for an estate sale company?
  2. What should I be looking for in an estate sale liquidator?
  3. How many estate sale companies should I consider?

1) There are many sources to find estate sale companies and all deserve your consideration. There are estate sale company listing websites (thousands of companies are listed over several listing websites).  There are organizations that estate sale liquidators can belong to such as ISA (International Society of Appraisers, and we do not want to imply that your estate sale liquidator should be a certified appraiser) the ASEL (American Society of Estate Liquidators run by Julie Hall, Director, Owner and CAGA member and estate liquidator), CAGA (Certified Appraisers Guild of America), ASA (American Society of Appraisers). ESA (Estate Sale Association, Mark Blondy Founder and CEO and estate sale liquidator). Many of these companies have their own code of ethics that an estate sale company must sign and agree to abide by in order to join. They also require paid membership.

You should also consult your attorney or local estate or probate attorneys and also local Realtors. Asking family members and friends is another good source.

When looking for an estate sale company consider all of these sources and utilize all the above mentioned resources. There is no one source that can guarantee you success or the right choice, however, using the multiple resources listed is a good choice.

2. When looking for an estate sale liquidator there are several things to consider including reviews. Reviews on a variety of websites (don’t just look at one because disgruntled individuals may be biased), you want the ability to speak directly with some of their former clients to discuss how they felt about their estate sale, how long have they been in business, how did they learn the estate liquidation business, what is their experience, and a major concern what kind of knowledge do they have about the estate sale process and contents that they will be selling in an estate sale. Also read through their websites. Think about the information provided. If you notice the website seems to be outdated (information wise) this may be a sign that there is a lack of attention to detail and a red flag. No one is going to know about everything (and sellers should not expect that), however, they should have a general knowledge, some background in vintage and antiques and it is very important to ask them how do they do their research (what do they do when they have something in a estate sale they have no knowledge of).

Education is important in the estate sale business, however, so is experience and their is no substitute for that.

3. There is no set number of estate sale companies to choose from, but we recommend you consider at least three. When you have finished step 1. and step 2. review your information and decide who you want to call for a brief telephone interview. This is a good time to take notes. Did speak to a live person or go to voice mail and if so how long did it take to phone you back. You may want to have an extra estate sale company on the list in case  you do not receive a call back, or the call back is over 24 hours.

As perspective sellers (whether you are the seller, family member, Realtor, attorney, or heir) the estate sale process of picking a liquidator can be challenging, but in the end the choice is yours and the results you obtain will reflect on your decision. Keeping in mind that the responsibility of selling of personal property contents is not only emotional, but financial so utilize all the resources before making your decision.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss the next steps in choosing an estate sale company.

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