Estate Sale Services:
How do Estate Sales Work?
There are a number of reasons for having an estate sale: downsizing, retiring, divorce, or the death of a loved one. An estate sale is a great way to clear out unwanted items quickly. Understanding how estate sales work and how to conduct one properly will make the process much easier should you find yourself in a position to need one.
WHAT IS AN ESTATE SALE?
Estate sales are used as a means of selling personal property, either your own, or on behalf of a family member, friend, etc. Estate sales usually contain far more items than your typical garage sale or yard sale and often take place inside a residence. They are designed to sell as many household contents as possible in a short period of time, frequently 2-3 days. In most cases, completely emptying the home is the desired outcome of an estate sale. Learn more.
WHY HAVE AN ESTATE SALE?
Why do most people have an estate sale? In short, estate sales are a terrific way to sell stuff at a great value in a shortened time period. They are the best way to reach a large buying audience looking for specific household items and goods. Not to mention, the average estate sale grosses nearly $20,000!
The top five reasons to have an estate sale are:
HOW DO ESTATE SALES WORK?
Estate sales commonly consist of opening up a residence to the public and allowing them to purchase personal property items such as furniture, artwork, decor, jewelry, vehicles, etc. Most estate sales occur over the course of a weekend, with some having dates scheduled on weekdays such as Thursday and Friday.
Most Estate Sales Typically:
- Occur inside of a home, condo, or apartment.
- Are open to the public.
- Occur over the course of 2-3 days.
- Offer a large variety of personal items, etc.
- Are merchandised like a boutique retail environment to boost sales.
- Sell everything: furniture, artwork, decor, housewares, clothing, etc.
- Have most individual items priced.
- Discount items as the sale progresses.
- Are managed by professionals, unless very small.
If the items are valuable or the situation is complex, estate sales are best conducted by professionals such as the Estate Pros.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HAVE AN ESTATE SALE?
As previously mentioned, most estate sale companies usually charge a commission of 30% to 40% of the estate sale. However, if you decide to run an estate sale on your own, you will have to pick up all of the costs yourself. Here are some typical expenses you may incur:
You will most likely need a way to organize and price your estate sale items, etc. This may include purchasing folding tables, shelving units, boxes, sorting containers, etc. You will also need a way to clearly identify what each item will cost. This includes buying price tags, stickers, and perhaps even a pricing gun.
Additionally, you may consider buying floor protection or shoe covers to protect your carpets, etc. Don’t forget to buy the advertising signs you’ll need to place at the end of the street and in your driveway as well! Be mindful, as all of these costs will start to stack up.
How will people know about your estate sale? You’ve got to advertise! You can advertise for free on social media, Craigslist, NextDoor App, etc. If you’d like to spend a few bucks, you can even spring for some ads on estate sale industry websites such as EstateSales.net and EstateSale.com. These sites are tailored specifically to individuals looking to shop at estate sales. It may cost you $100 or so to list on each of these sites, but it’s well worth it as it’s highly targeted marketing to individuals looking for estate sales.
Hopefully, you’ll have some friends and family available to assist you in running your estate sale. Otherwise, you may have to pay a few people to help out. Consider the need for the following roles: cashier, door person for greeting and security, and a few people to walk around and assist shoppers.
Make sure to check with your city, township, or county to see if any permits are required and how much they will be.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN ESTATE SALE
Having a well-thought-out plan is important to having a successful estate sale. Whether your sale is due to a downsize, move, or death of a loved one, these initial steps will help guide you through the process.
Take an inventory of the home
A thorough inventory and search of the home will begin preparing you for an estate sale. Look for forgotten or hidden valuables. It is important to have an accurate inventory to predict how much you can make from your estate sale. Try searching the following areas:
Clothing, books, drawers, cupboards, boxes, and closets
Search under and behind furniture and look behind drawers
Investigate attics, crawlspaces, and basements
Remove any personal or sensitive items that you don’t want to be placed in the estate sale
If it’s something personal or valuable that you don’t want to sell, removing or securing it is essential. If this is an inheritance situation, there may be items the heirs have no right to, including personal records, diaries, and journals. Make sure to secure these items. Consider financial records and/or other personal documents as well, and develop a method for determining which of these should be retained for record-keeping purposes. Make sure any firearms have been safely unloaded and then properly secured. Additional items to consider:
- Precious metals, coins, jewelry, or collections
- Personal photos
- Personal documents
- Firearms or ammunition
- Food or alcohol
- All items you wish to retain
Don’t throw anything away!
Most estate sales will have items of smaller value offered for sale right alongside the big-ticket items. Variety is the spice of life! All the little things found in a home that usually get tossed or donated are sometimes appealing to estate sale shoppers who are willing buyers of a wide variety of items. They’ll buy the stuff you think has no value; or think you are better off throwing away. The dollar value of the many small, seemingly inconsequential items that every house contains has the potential of creating thousands of dollars of income. These lower-valued items are sold every weekend at estate sales across the country. Here are just a few examples:
- Kitchen items
- Damaged jewelry
- Old stereo equipment
- Old newspapers, etc
- Record albums
- Cleaning supplies
- Craft supplies
- Outdoor / Garden items
- Bedding & linens
- Office supplies, etc
Know what you want to sell
Clearly identifying the scope of your project will make the estate sale process a lot smoother and without confusion. This process is easier if the items you and your family want to keep have been entirely removed from the home. However, if you can’t remove these items take a little time and mark those items “Not For Sale” with a post-it note or similar so we know those items are off limits and not to be sold.
Try and stay organized and create lists if necessary
Having an estate sale can be a tall task. There are many details to consider and organization that needs to be completed before having heirs or potential estate sale companies in to view items. Some lists may include:
- General inventory
- Items being given to heirs
- Potentially valuable items
- Important contacts – realtors, estate sale companies, contractors
- To-do lists
Photograph the contents
A cataloged reference, either in a photo or in video format, will help with advertising and can serve as documentary evidence of the estate should it be necessary. Photos may also assist heirs to make quick decisions about what can be sold and what they’d like to keep. Tips for taking pictures:
- Take photos in an organized manner, ie. Furniture, Art, and China
- Upload photos to a secure network or download to an exterior hard drive
Set up and organize the home
The more organized the home is, the easier it is for shoppers to navigate through the items you wish to sell. If you have valuables, secure them in an area that’s restrictive for shoppers. Getting items ready:
- Remove junk or debris
- Declutter as much as possible
- Keep inventory lists
Start with appraisals if necessary
If it’s an inheritance situation and the personal property is being divided, you’ll need an appraisal to determine the value of these items. Appraisals may assist when:
- Requested by an attorney, accountant, heir, the courts or probate
- There are valuable items
- Heirs are contesting
- Equitable disbursements are required
Price as much as possible
The more items that are priced, the better. Placing price tags, stickers, etc on the more expensive items allows shoppers to know what to expect in terms of cost. Also, consider grouping like items together and offering bundle pricing, it’s a great way to get rid of items quickly!
Be Ready for Purchases
Make sure a cashier table is set up to ensure people will know where they can make purchases. If multiple people are helping and assisting with transactions, make sure they are easily identifiable with name tags, matching shirts, etc. Also, be sure to go to the bank and get enough smaller bills,to have change ready.
Are you going to take checks, credit cards, Venmo or CashApp payments?
Many people rely on these forms of payment, so it’s important to have a plan. If you don’t have a Venmo or CashApp account, consider setting one up or asking someone you trust if you can use their account. You may also want to consider purchasing a mobile credit card reader if it makes sense to do so.
Be aware of your surroundings and the shoppers in attendance. You must be on the look out for misconduct and/or theft. Having a few people to help around the entrances and exits can’t hurt. You can also have people walking around, but avoid making shoppers uncomfortable.
Ensure all doors are locked and closed before and after the estate sale. This will keep people out of the house and protect your items from being stolen or damaged.
Some cities or homeowners associations will require you to have a permit or have filled out an application before hosting your sale. They may also have specific restrictions or guidelines on what you can and can’t do, so be sure to check your city website and HOA site if you do live in one.
Some cities or HOAs will restrict you from putting up signs or handing out fliers. If they don’t, be sure to post signs of where to park. If there are restrictions on where potential buyers can park, be sure you follow these guidelines and make a plan accordingly.
After-sale donation, junk removal, etc
What to do with all of the leftovers? Consider donating to local charities, churches, etc. and make sure to reach out to them a few weeks in advance as many of these organizations are extremely busy and may not be able to fit you into their pick up schedule. Also, consider having an appraiser evaluate the items for their values first. This will help avoid costly mistakes. You don’t want to give away items later to find out they were worth a small fortune.
Charities are a bit pickier than they used to be. Chances are you’re going to have items left over even after the charity pick ups. That’s where a good junk removal company comes into play. You may want to research local junk companies to see you who has the best ratings, pricing, etc.
HOW TO ADVERTISE AN ESTATE SALE
How will people know about your estate sale? You’ve got to advertise! You can advertise for free on social media, Craigslist, NextDoor App, etc. If you’d like to spend a few bucks you can even spring for some ads on estate sale industry websites such as EstateSales.net and EstateSale.com. These sites are explicitly tailored to individuals looking to shop at Estate Sales. It may cost you $100 or so to list on each site, but it’s well worth it as it’s highly targeted marketing to individuals looking for estate sales.
DO YOU NEED A PERMIT FOR AN ESTATE SALE?
What about permits? As previously covered, some cities, townships, etc require permits to conduct estate sales and garage sales. Make sure to check with local officials to see what’s required and at what cost. Also, if you plan on using street signs around town to point people to your estate sale, you’ll definitely want to inquire about any restrictions, etc. your local city may have.
ESTATE SALE MISTAKES
Planning an estate sale can be overwhelming and stressful. There are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid to make sure your estate sale runs smoothly.
- No Advertising – If you fail to advertise your event, no one will know that your estate sale is happening. Some people make the mistake of only putting up a few signs in their neighborhood, but that will only draw in a small group of people. In addition to the street signs, using online estate sale listing services, the local newspaper, and Craigslist will let buyers know the details of your sale.
- Disposing of Items Before the Sale – One of the most important rules for an estate sale is never to give or throw anything away. This doesn’t mean that everything in your home has value but you never know what people will be interested in. One person’s trash is another’s treasure!
- Improper Staging – How you set up your home for the estate sale can have a major impact on the success of the sale. Organize in a way that will appeal to buyers. Clean up clutter and remove things that aren’t for sale. You must also protect certain items during the staging to prevent theft. Jewelry and other very valuable pieces should always be kept under lock and key.
- Running Your Own Estate Sale – An estate sale is different from a garage sale. Most people believe they can easily handle an estate sale themselves, but most people don’t actually have the expertise or time to pull off a successful sale. Without the knowledge and experience needed to sort, organize, advertise, stage, price, and sell your estate items, you won’t have the success you desire. That’s why the most successful sales usually have a professional team like Estate Pros behind them.
- Letting Your Emotions Takeover – Don’t let your personal opinions about an item dictate your pricing strategy. The sentimental and emotional attachment to your estate sale items can hurt sale potential, so you must know exactly what your items are worth.
Learn more about common Estate Sale Mistakes.
Overwhelmed? Thinking about hiring an Estate Sale Company?
Contact the Estate Pros!!!
The Estate Pros are the most professional estate sale company in the area, serving homes like yours all across southeast Michigan. We are consistently ranked amongst the top estate sale companies in America, recognized by EstateSale.com and other industry authorities.
We pay meticulous attention to every detail as we handle each aspect of the estate sale process from start to finish. Our experts will work with you from the initial free consultation to the complete execution of your event and everything in between. You don’t need to lift a finger; the Estate Pros will take care of everything for you!
How the Pros Do It.
The Estate Pros tailor every estate sale to fit the specific needs of each of our clients. Our process is comprehensive and easy. Once your estate sale is scheduled, we will: professionally photograph and advertise your items, provide boutique-style staging, evaluate and price your valuables with one of our certified appraisers, professionally manage and execute your sale, then donate and clean-out the remaining unsold items. It’s that simple!
The Estate Pros process begins with a free consultation in which one of our team members will tour your home to determine the viability of an estate sale. We will carefully examine your items, discuss our process and talk about your needs as it relates to your goals and expectations. Additionally, we can assist you in determining what to sell and what to keep. With over 15 years of industry experience, the Estate Pros have the expertise necessary to help guide you with your valued possessions.
Prior to the estate sale, the Estate Pros will meticulously and carefully sort through the items being considered for sale. All of your items will be staged, merchandised and set up in the various shopper approved areas of your home. Our boutique, retail approach to staging will really set your estate sale apart! From there, our certified appraisers will evaluate and price each estate sale item. When pricing estate sale items, our appraisers complete a thorough search of all comparable markets and online auction “sold” listings.
Day(s) Of Sale
On sale days, your dedicated Estate Pros sales team monitors all aspects of your estate sale including: providing five star customer and sales service to all guests in attendance, making sure your home is secure, managing shopper traffic, recording all transactions and payments, and making arrangements to have all sold items removed from the premises.
Once the estate sale is completed, the Estate Pros will: issue settlement payment, provide a detailed sales report of all items sold, schedule customer pick ups, and schedule charity donation & trash removal of any unsold items (if requested). From there, the estate sale home is left broom / vacuum clean and empty – ready for the new residents. Our estate sale process is easy and hassle-free, that’s the Estate Pros difference!
What Our Clients are Saying
Southeast Michigan Estate Sale Service Area
The Estate Pros have been proudly serving Oakland, Macomb and parts of Livingston, Genesee, Lapeer & Wayne counties for the past 15 years. No matter what your situation calls for, the Estate Pros are here to help!
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