Estate Sales for Everyone

Your family estate probably doesn’t look like Downton Abbey, but don’t let that stop you.

Estate Cottages, Ringwood Road, Longham, Dorset

Estate Cottages, Ringwood Road, Longham, Dorset (Photo credit: Alwyn Ladell)

Estate sales aren’t just for the rich and famous. In fact, an estate sale is an efficient way to liquidate a house full of belongings, no matter what size the home is. Sometimes known as tag sales, estate sales are often held after someone passes away. But people also hold estate sales after a divorce or bankruptcy, or to sell a large amount of items to prepare for a move.

Whatever your reason, an estate sale can be a great way to get your money’s worth out of

items you no longer want or need. There are two ways to run an estate sale: hire a professional or do it yourself. Here are a few things to consider about both options.

Hire a Professional Most people go this route, because an estate sale is a huge amount of work. That’s why estate sale companies generally take between 25 and 35 percent of the proceeds. Some will have a minimum fee you must pay before you get any share of the profits.

It’s best to get a referral from a realtor, attorney or trusted friend. If you have to find an estate sale company on your own, make sure they’re bonded and insured. Ask for references, and check them.

Before signing a contract, be very clear on exactly what duties the company will handle. Most will sort and price all the items, display them professionally, handle the publicity and manage the sale itself.

Find out how and when you’ll get your share of the proceeds and whether or not the company will haul away any remaining items. These are usually donated to charity, and many organizations will pick up your leftovers for free.

Do It Yourself You can boost your earnings by handling the sale yourself, but be prepared for the effort involved. You’ll be handling everything an estate sale company would do for you: sorting, pricing, advertising and cleaning, plus setting up, hosting the sale and disposing of any remaining items.

Consider having an expert appraise any items of value, and maybe even look through all your items once they’re sorted. Items that may not look like anything special could be worth more than you think, so the cost of an expert assessment may be a good investment.

When planning your sale, time it to avoid conflicts with other area sales or major events. Give yourself enough lead-time to advertise in local papers and online.

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