Estate Sales – The Simple Solution to a Complex Problem
Anyone who has ever helped an aging parent transition into assisted living or skilled care knows that it is not a simple process. Locating an affordable and well-appointed facility, negotiating for the necessary services, preparing for the move – it’s exhausting. But once the new resident gets settled, the work is done, right? Wrong! Packing for the move is only the tip of the iceberg. What most people don’t realize is that this type of transition usually involves downsizing, leaving an entire house full of items that need to be handled in some manner
An estate sale is one of the most efficient ways of disposing of such a large quantity of household goods. Estate sales are usually run by a professional liquidator – a person who has knowledge and experience in appropriately pricing personal property, and who has a team trained to prepare for and facilitate the sale. The liquidator knows how to research and value unusual items, has resources and/or buyers in specific markets, and knows how to advertise and attract potential buyers to the estate sale. Because they specialize in this business, liquidators can usually wrap up the estate long before family members alone could manage. As an objective third party, a liquidator also avoids the sentimental traps that cause family members to over-value items, or refrain from selling them at all.
How do you find a professional liquidator? Start by asking friends or local realtors for recommendations. Search online for “estate sales” or “household liquidators”. Look for a company with a comprehensive website that details their services, has listings for upcoming sales, and has lots of photos of previous sales. Check to see what social media tools they use – exposure is the name of the game, and if the liquidator isn’t advertising upcoming sales they won’t get optimal results.
Once you’ve identified a couple of likely candidates, call them to set an appointment for a consultation. During each consultation, find out if the firm has insurance, if they accept credit cards, and if they will remit sales tax to the state on your behalf. Make sure that they have adequate staff to set up and facilitate the sale, and ask what they will do with unsold items. The best firms will offer options, such as auctioning unsold pieces, donation to local charities, or if necessary, hauling to a recycling center or landfill. You should expect a fee for those services, but it’s a small price to pay for avoiding the headache of doing it yourself.
Tips for a Successful Estate Sale
- Don’t throw anything out before the liquidator arrives for the consultation. The worthless, rusty old oil cans in the garage may actually be quite valuable to an avid collector. Let the professional be the judge.
- Have realistic expectations. While estate sales definitely bring in more cash than a garage sale, it’s important to realize that most household items don’t pull top dollar. The liquidator will price merchandise to sell, because that’s in his best interest too. He knows the market – trust his expertise.
- Promote, promote, promote. Make sure your liquidator is advertising your estate sale. There should be a listing on his website, ads in local papers, and posts on social media. He should be posting photos of unusual or highly desirable items to drive traffic to the sale.
- Accept credit cards. Make certain that your liquidator will accept credit card payments on site at your estate sale. Cash only sales leave money on the table if buyers are unprepared, and checks leave too much room for fraud.
- Beware of “free” clean up. Time is money, and no professional values his time at zero. If a liquidator offers to clear the house for free at the close of the estate sale, you can be sure there is something in it for them. Usually, they retain anything of value and either auction it or shuffle it into the next estate sale, keeping the profit for their business. Ensure that the liquidator doesn’t bring any merchandise into your sale either. The goal is to clear your house, not sell other families cast-offs.
Run properly, estate sales are usually quick, clean, and efficient. With a professional liquidator at the helm, you can be assured that there will be an accounting of all items, and you are far more likely to bring in a higher profit than a garage sale. For a reasonable fee, most liquidators will completely clear the home at the conclusion of the sale, relieving you of that burden, and readying the house for the next phase, whether that be for sale or occupancy. With so many important activities associated with relocating an elderly parent, an estate sale becomes a simple solution to a complex problem.
First and foremost, the senior’s most treasured possessions need to be transitioned to the new residence. These are not simply objects – they represent a lifetime of memories for their owner. As you wrap and box the items for the move, allow plenty of time to talk about the recollections the objects inspire. Honor the emotions that come up, and recognize that although your parent is beginning a new chapter in life, an old one is closing, and there’s likely to be some sadness. Allow the feelings, but remain positive and encouraging.
Justin Elliott is an Estate Liquidator serving the Oklahoma City Metro, Tulsa Metro, and their suburbs. Elliott’s Estate Sales conducts Estate Sales, Online Auctions, Clean-Out Services & Junk Removals. We offer first-class marketing, setup and display of your estate merchandise. Specializing in leveraging the power of social media, traditional marketing, relationship building, and networking to find a new home for your loved ones personal property.
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