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 Serviecs & 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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Ready to say good-bye to Grandma’s Hummel collection, all the immaculate furniture, kitchen full of Pyrex and the Lincoln Town Car? The whole house is packed, and the realtor told you to have it empty in a month. Nervous?
The real estate market is HOT and our phones are ringing of the hook as homeowners and realtors are under pressure to empty estates. When I speak to families about the liquidation process they all have one thing in common: they are overwhelmed.
After managing hundreds of estate sales and speaking with hundreds of families, I find the same issues in hiring the right estate sale company arise. Whether managing the estate of a family member—or planning your own as you downsize (or move to the Grand Caymans), these hints can make a huge impact.
1. DON’T THROW ANYTHING AWAY! Many families feel like they need to clean up before they interview an estate sale company. A great company will transform the space for you. Items you may value like chipped crystal, ordinary china, and worn out furniture don’t usually bring in the dollars—it is the collectibles, timeless decor, and vintage treasures that an estate sale specialist can spot that add up the bucks. Spend your energy determining which items you would like to kee. Leave the rest up to the company that you hire.
Last year we managed an estate sale where the family believed the house was full of junk. On a friend’s recommendation they called me on the verge of having a garage sale. In the end they were shocked and grateful when we sold over $25,000 worth of treasures!
2. Where do you start? Once you’ve removed the items that you like, it’s time to start researching estate liquidators. Ask your real estate agent and friends which company they might have used. Try a Google search: only hire a company with a website with listed services, photos of staff, and photos and listings from previous sales. Estate sale exposure is essential—prioritize using a company that has great marketing. Videos, photos, and social media marketing are essential in the fast paced world of the Internet.
3. Interviews and Consultations — Select a few companies to interview over the phone and pick your top two to come out for a consultation. I love in-home consultations because I can assess the potential liabilities that the property may have, the parking situation, the proximity to resources like a recycling center or a donation site, and the actual items available for sale.
4. Get down to business during the consultation. Does this company have insurance? Does this company have contracted staff to assist in setup and during the estate sale? Be upfront and direct with your questions. We want to be as upfront and direct as possible to manage expectations and create happy, well-informed clients.
5. Money — Accepting credits cards it is a very good indicator of professional conduct, while only cash leaves money on the table and checks have too much liability for fraud. Reducing cash also reduces theft risk by accepting credit cards. An Oklahoma estate sale company should be collecting sales tax and remitting to the Oklahoma Tax Commission on your behalf.
6. No outside merchandise added to the sale! — A frequent estate sale nightmare is when Estate Liqudiators add extra items to your estate sale. “The company we hired BROUGHT items into our estate sale.” This common practice in the estate industry is wrong—particularly when the goal is to empty your property! Bringing outside items in always creates a conflict of interest. Buyers will be spending money on your family items and those of the estate company. Consider an injury or property damage—imagine a client falling on a lamp that didn’t belong to the estate in the first place! What a nightmare.
7. Having realistic expectations. — More often than I would like I have to tell a family that the value in merchandise isn’t what they were hoping for. It can also goes the other way. Last year we managed an estate sale where the family believed the house was full of junk. On a friend’s recommendation they called me on the verge of having a garage sale. In the end they were shocked and grateful when we sold over $25,000 worth of treasures!
8. Free cleanup is a bad idea. Some companies shuffle unsold items into their next sale, rather than make a promised charitable donation. Make sure to ask about this during the interview process. At Elliott’s Estate Sales we clean up 99% of the estate sales we organize for a fee based on the volume of trash/recycling/medical waste/hazardous waste/shredding etc., leaving the house clean and ready for the next occupants. In the event of unsold items after the estate sale or liquidation we can offer to auction them from our warehouse or process them to be donated and provide a tax refundable receipt, unless the family has specified otherwise.
The right estate sale company can help you pass your family treasures along to happy new owners in a respectful and organized way. A daunting and devastating task for a family can be managed in a very short time, saving emotional energy and potentially making a good profit.
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