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Estate Sales & Auctions

It’s always fun to find deals on things that are gently used, and one of a kind vintage items that nobody else will have. Estate sales and auctions make for a great weekend event to take your family hunting for treasures and deals you won’t find anywhere else.

What is an Estate Sale?

Estate sales are typically held when a business or large family estate is downsizing, or when a relative has passed, and the family sorts through and sells the possessions of that relative. This kind of sale includes quality items. Estate sales are also thoroughly organized, and a lot more time and effort is put into researching items and pricing them accordingly. Many estate sales advertize their items ahead of time, sometimes making pictures available to the public so the public can get a good feel for what they will find at the sale.

Should I Hire a Professional Liquidator?

Estate Sales are usually hectic for the seller. Running an estate sale can be very stressful and time consuming, and when hiring a professional estate sale liquidator or auctioneer, they will handle everything from beginning to end. Professional estate sale managers will usually charge between 20% and 35% of the proceeds of the sale. With that fee, you can expect the pros to organize all items, price them, research valuables as needed, and run the estate sale or auction from beginning to end. Estate sale agents and auctioneers will also promote the sale, entering an ad in the paper, and even posting pictures and information on the sale online in some cases. They will also handle all transactions during the sale. When hiring a pro, there won’t be much work at all needed from the owner. In the end, you will have a hand full of cash and will hardly have had to work for it.

For those that aren’t interested in hiring a professional, keep these ideas in mind: running your own estate sale with no previous experience can be tricky, and without the proper knowledge, you can easily lose out on money from selling items for too little of a cost when they are worth much more. That is where hiring a professional estate sale liquidator or auctioneer can be important. It would be unfortunate to pass on a family heirloom or vintage items for a price too small. So, before you take on the responsibility of running a sale, contact an estate sale agent to at least find out what they charge and what they can share with you. We have many Estate Sale Companies, Auctioneers & Appraisers in the area, so contact one or more of them with any questions you have, or to set a date for your estate sale!
If you’re on the fence about whether you should hire help or give it a go yourself, read this story to find out what responsibility comes with staging your own estate sale.

Planning a Do-It-Yourself Estate or Yard Sale

Planning & Getting Organized

For those with a small inventory of items, or those with previous experience with estate sales, here are a few ideas to assist you in the process. 

First, take a look at what you are getting into- many hours of sorting, moving, lifting, and thinking. You will need to be in good physical condition to run a sale, and be able to lift heavy boxes, furniture, etc. You will also need a handful of people to help with the sale.

Many boxes, bags, and newspaper or tissue paper are needed for packing items away that are sold. Folding tables are a must if you have many smaller items to display. Have a good calculator on hand for the transaction process, and several notepads and pens/pencils for writing receipts and logging items you have sold.

If you are having the sale indoors, be sure to post signs on any doors or rooms that buyers shouldn’t enter. It’s always a good idea to have a helper to monitor the items and answer any questions.

You’ll want to have a clear and obvious entrance and exit so there is no confusion of how to get in and out of the house. Don’t be surprised or offended if a buyer offers a certain price, or tried to bundle items together. Just remember to be pleasant and patient. At the end of the sale, there will most likely be items that haven’t sold. You can sort what to keep, donate, throw away, or even try to sell online.

Sorting Items to Sell

When sorting items before the sale, don’t throw anything out! What you might think is trash can surely be treasure to another person, and who knows? It might actually be worth something! Many people “re-purpose” items such as old furniture, windows, doors, light fixtures, etc. and they love finding these things at sales.

If you have an assortment of old ‘things’ that might not be worth anything to you, put them in a separate area. You can price these items low, or put a sign up that says “make offer”. Even old clothing and bedding with rips and stains, save them- they can be used as rags, or as drop cloths. They might even come in handy for customers that buy furniture, and need a cushion to protect it during the transportation. You can put these items in a separate box and label them as rags/drop cloths, and mark them as free (you were going to throw them out anyway).

How to Price Items

When pricing items, be sure to have tags on every item that you are selling with the price on it. Adding a short description or title is helpful in case a tag falls off, or if the buyer isn’t sure what the item is. If you are uncertain about the worth of something, research it! This is one of the biggest problems with running your own sale. Professional liquidators have many years of experience in dealing with items and what they are worth, so there isn’t much question about what the price should be. Pawn shops, antique stores, and other consignment stores are a good place to visit to find similar items and get an idea of what the price should be. Search eBay for items that you want to sell to see what they are worth online. If for any reason you are selling more than one persons possessions, or if it’s a multifamily sale, be sure to separate the items if the profit is going to be separate. To avoid having items mixed up, try color coordinating the items with different color stickers. When the buyer is checking out, you will know who’s item is who’s, and you will be able to record how much it was sold for.

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