Chances are, if you're faced with hosting an estate sale, a significant life event has recently occurred and left you with a home full of treasured keepsakes, household furnishings, cookware, and more. Enter — the estate sale. A kin to the garage sale, only larger and all-encompassing.
An estate sale is a no-holds-bar, liquidation sale where everything must go. Divorce, death, across-the-country moves can all prove as catalysts for an estate sale. More often than not, the host needs to sell the house but first must get rid of everything inside, giving way to awesome deals and an easy way to liquidate unwanted, inherited or old items.
Develop A Plan
Coming into an inherited house that you haven't seen in months or maybe years can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you are expected to tackle the project alone. Instead of posting ads on Craigslist for the next closest weekend under the headline “EVERYTHING MUST GO,” take time to develop a plan for organizing, cleaning, and selling items within the home.
Remove all legal documents, family photos, medical records, and other personal effects from desks, file cabinets, and armoires. Items of value or presumed value should also be separated from the rest to be appraised. Once keepsakes and confidential items are removed from the rest, you can proceed knowing that you won't accidentally dispose of priceless handwritten love notes between your grandparents.
Utilize an Appraiser
You should probably opt to host your own estate sale if the collective value of items in the household is estimated under $10,000. Keep in mind though, that even if you perceive the value to be over $10,000, hiring a professional estate liquidation company will cut into your profits anywhere from 25-50%.
If you plan to go it alone, hire a local appraiser to help out and you won't dip into potential profits nearly as much but you'll still benefit from professional guidance and experience. A professional appraiser will have a better handle on the value of furniture, jewelry, art, and dishware. They might suggest you sell high end, antique, or luxury items separately at an auction.
Hiring an appraiser could end up making you a good deal of extra money and will help you get rid of stuff that isn't worth anything. This saves you time and resources organizing and pricing items that are essentially worthless. Hiring a knowledgeable and trustworthy appraiser can also save you from selling off Aunt Julie's complete turn of the century silverware set for $5 to the next door neighbor.
Organizing and Pricing
While it may be tempting to leave everything where it is — dishes in the cupboard, winter coats in the hall closet, lawn care items in the shed — it's vital to pull everything out so guests can have a clear view of what's available. Items related to particular rooms can stay in that area, but pull everything towards the center of the room to facilitate traffic flow and maximize visibility.
Detach emotionally from the pricing of objects or else you won't sell anything. Ask friends what they might pay for certain objects or tour other estate sales in the area to get a general idea of pricing. Be open to bargaining during the sale and group certain low cost items in “dollar-bins” or “best offer” tables.
Marketing the Event
The estate sale needs to be advertised across multiple platforms, weeks before the event, to ensure enough foot traffic. Choose a date that corresponds with other widely attended events in the city, like farmers' markets or springtime festivals. Avoid competing estate or antique sales as they might steal business and increase competition over pricing.
If you have certain big ticket items you're hoping to sell during the estate sale, showcase these pieces in their own advertisements on free sites. Craigslist, OfferUp, Letgo and Ebay can all attract attention for your sale and even work to offload pieces before the big day.
To maximize profits and foot traffic, it's important you open early on both weekend days. In addition to online advertisements, post signs throughout the surrounding neighborhoods with directions, dates and times of your sale.
Day of the Sale
Hire friends and relatives to help as cashiers, security, and organizers during the event. Be open to bargaining and have a pickup truck on hand to offer delivery, if need be. Make sure there is only one point of entry and exit to ensure nothing gets stolen and to facilitate the flow of foot traffic.
Have a plan in place for items you are unable to sell or get ready to mark things down on the second day of the sale. Local junk haulers, The Salvation Army, and GoodWill offer pick up services in most urban areas.
Now that you've cleaned house, you may be looking to offload the property as well. Partnering with an experienced local agent can help you get the most for your home and save you the headache of selling the property yourself.