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Should You Hire an Estate Sale Company? Pros & Cons

Whether you’re handling a loved one’s estate or looking to liquidate your own property, you may be wondering about the best way to have an estate sale. An estate sale company can be valuable if you choose them correctly. Here’s what you need to know.
Whether you’re handling a loved one’s estate or looking to liquidate your own property, you may be wondering about the best way to have an estate sale. An estate sale company can be valuable if you choose them correctly. Here’s what you need to know.

Losing someone close to you is hard in so many ways. It’s emotionally difficult, there can be strains in your family relationships, and handling the estate of your loved one is time-consuming. Many times the family members tasked with handling their loved one’s belongings feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff there is.

Or, perhaps you haven’t lost a loved one, but you’re downsizing significantly and are looking to liquidate your personal property. Maybe you’re facing a divorce and have to sell your joint possessions.

To handle all of this, you may be considering hiring an estate sale company. There are benefits to doing so, as well as things to keep in mind if you decide to DIY it.

Here’s what you need to know as you go through this major change.

What is an Estate Sale Company?

An estate sale company will hold a sale or auction to help you clear the home. If it’s a loved one’s estate, you and your family should get the valuables from the home that you want to keep.

Next, the estate sale company will have a representative walk through the home and determine the offer they want to make. They’ll give you a price that includes the percentage they’ll keep and let you know about additional fees.

If you accept the offer, the company will market the sale and promote it online and to their email list. They may send mailers or do other marketing as well. Because the success and value of the sale depend on a lot of folks coming, this is often extremely valuable.

The company will also take note of any specifically valuable items and determine if they’d be better sold at an auction or to a specialty collector. They want to maximize the value of every piece.

How Much Will You Pay?

An estate sale company will generally charge a percentage of the sale proceeds. They will send a representative to walk through the home and determine what the right percentage is, or they may offer a sliding scale where the percentage depends on the proceeds of the sale.

As they walk through the home, the company will be looking for two things: workload and valuable pieces. If the home is tidy and not overly cluttered, the workload is average to low. If you or your relative was a hoarder, it’s a huge amount of work to sort, tag, and stage the sale.

Besides the percentage, be sure you pay attention to extra fees. Get the quote in writing and don’t be shy about shopping around. Extra fees may include materials, fees for accepting credit cards, expert opinions, trash removal after the sale, or after-sale cleanup.

In general, expect to pay a 30-50% of the sale proceeds as a percentage. Don’t always go with the lowest bid either — picking the right company is vital.

Choosing an Estate Sale Company

Two of the keys to choosing the right estate sale company are experience and marketing reach. You want a company that knows how to assess and price property, and you want to make sure they have a lot of people visiting their website and on their email list.

A new company that isn’t as skilled may charge a lower percentage, but you may net less overall because of the lower sale amount they bring in.

The other thing to keep an eye on is the extra fees. Some companies try to hide thousands in fees in the paperwork, while others include a significant number of services in the main price. You’ll want to make sure you’re not surprised by the fees after your sale.

Should You DIY?

Some folks are frustrated at the thought of handing over up to 50% of their or their loved one’s estate sale to a professional company and decide to go it alone.

If this is you, make sure you fully understand what you’re doing. An estate sale is much, much more than just a large garage sale. You need to price things correctly (which means hiring an appraiser), market the sale well so you get a lot of people, and manage all of the customers and transactions.

While you may be able to do all of that, you might find that leaving all the hassle to a company will mean getting more cash in your hand. Remember, an estate sale company does this every day, and they have a strong incentive to maximize your proceeds. Getting 50% of a $30,000 sale is better than getting 100% of a $10,000 sale.

What About the House?

Once you’ve sold all the personal property, what do you do with the house itself? If you’ve inherited one as part of the estate, or you have to sell because you’re divorcing or downsizing, you want to work with a professional.

Fortunately, a Clever Partner Agent can help. They’ll give you a full-service experience while charging a low flat fee of $3,000 or 1% if the home sells over $350,000.

A home sale is not something you want to do alone. You’ll sell faster for a much better price if you work with an experienced local agent.

Contact us for more information today!

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Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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