How an Estate Sale Quickly Declutters Everything (But the Kitchen Sink!)

estate sale

Imagine selling roomfuls of things, without having to pack, unpack, load, unload … if this sounds ideal, then an estate sale may be right for you!

An estate sale is one more option for decluttering your excess stuff and getting a financial return, as well. I’ve linked other selling options at the end of this post.

Whichever route you take, why not cash in on the stuff you no longer need, use, or want? 

We begin with a definition of “estate sale” so it’s clear how it works. Then, we’ll review how to start the process and have one run in your home. 

Today's Post Covers The Basics of An Estate Sale To Declutter Your Whole House Lickety-Split!

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The Definition of "Estate Sale"

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Sometimes folks use the terms “estate sale“, “tag sale“, “garage sale” or “yard sale” interchangeably. But there are distinct differences!

For our purposes here, an estate sale refers to a third party managing the liquidation of personal belongings. It’s a formal process handled by a professional from start to finish. 

The sale takes place inside the home, whether in just a few select rooms or the entire footprint of the house.

The word “estate” can conjure up images of high end goods, collectibles, or fine antiques. But this is not always the case. In fact, just about anything you would find in a home can and has been sold at an estate sale!

Also, an estate sale was traditionally used to liquidate personal belongings after someone died. It was a quick way to settle debts. However, an estate sale can also be a practical approach for clearing space when the goal is to declutter, downsize, or divorce. 

Interestingly, estate sales can be run by the homeowner and can occur on-line, too. For today, we are only examining the on-site professionally managed approach.

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Other Types of Sales

In contrast, most tag, garage, and yard sales are run by the owners themselves or with the help of a family member or friend.

These types of sales tend to take a more casual approach. For example, items to sell are located in the garage, driveway, or front yard to keep buyers out of the house!

Additionally, prices are indicated with stickers. Certain tables or racks may have a sign with one price for all items placed there.  Some buyers often want to counter the posted prices, as well. Once a final price is agreed upon, cash and sometimes even personal checks are accepted.

Now, back to the estate sale process!

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Kick Off An Estate Sale With These 3 Steps

Step 1: Locate a professional

In fact, talk to more than just one for comparison. A complimentary consultation allows the professional to evaluate your items, to explain their procedures, and to disclose the cost of using their services.

Always begin with gathering recommendations from friends or neighbors. Or, do a basic online search for professionals in your area. Check for reviews and research how long they’ve been in business. Confirm their standing with the Better Business Bureau, too.

Then, when you’ve performed your due diligence, you can sit back and relax once you’ve selected who will do all the work for you!

Step 2: Listen to what they believe will be salable and at what price

A professional can tell you what is hot and what is not in today’s market.

Understand that what you paid for something or how old it is has little to do with what it will sell for now. This is one of the hard truths to accept!

But in regards to certain items, such as coins or artwork, you may also choose to have them professionally appraised in order to confirm their current value.

And keep in mind that if something can be sold, they will want to do it because they typically work on a percentage basis. So if you hear that you’re better off donating certain things for the income tax deduction, it’s likely true.

Step 3: Request a written estimate

Be sure it includes a clear explanation of how and when your net proceeds are distributed.

Typically, you are paid within 3 days of the end of the sale. Estate sale fees range anywhere from 20-45% of the gross profits. It depends on your market and on the exact services provided.

Obviously, they are managing the sale from start to finish. But they may also handle any unsold items for you by offering to donate those items to charity on your behalf. There is always trash removal and after-sale clean up to perform, as well. Therefore, ask about related services so you know who is doing what.

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What Happens During An Estate Sale

Reputable professionals adhere to industry best practices to help make your estate sale a success. Some of the most important considerations include the following:

  1. Weekend hours are a must to ensure all potential buyers can attend the sale. An estate sale is typically run 1-3 days.
  2. Colorful and enticing verbiage is used in the street signage, Internet and print ads. Artful and thoughtful display of your items is also an essential step.
  3. Extensive price research is conducted to get top dollar for you. Remember, the professional is paid on a percentage basis. So it’s in their best interest to maximize your return.
  4. Cash or credit cards are mandatory for all sales. An actual cash register is used to provide accuracy and security.
  5. Adequate preparation includes cleaning and minor repair of items to ensure selling at top dollar.
estate sale in my area
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Estate Sale or Consignment Shop?

How do you know which approach will work better for you?

To begin with, the professional will guide you. Although there are numerous estate sale companies, some choose to focus on high demand antiques, vintage, or one-of-a-kind items.

If many of your items are common brands or styles such as Corningware, Colonial furniture, or Ikea bookcases, you may be advised to consider the consignment route.

This is not to say that common household good don’t sell well in an estate sale. They can! But you should also explore your other options, anyway.

So talk to a few different estate sale professionals. Call or visit nearby consignment shops with pictures of your items. 

Then make a final, informed selling decision based on your research and your personal timeline.

Now go forth and sell!

The Wrap with Mary V
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The Wrap: This Post Shared The Basics of How An Estate Sale Moves All The Clutter Out In One Fell Swoop!

  • Research the selling options available to you. 
  • Remember to factor in how much time you have to liquidate your belongings.
  • Realize there is a tremendous amount of expertise and energy required to sell. Keep this in mind when you use a professional.

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