Q#1 - Our realtor advised us to put our house on the market after it has been emptied. We need to have an estate sale ASAP. What should we do?
A - Call us ASAP. Although some sales can be prepared in as little as seven days, others take up to three weeks to properly organize, research, stage, price & conduct an in-home estate sale. Including the weekend before the sale, we need about ten days to do the job to our high standards.
Anne Dee ESTATE SALES does an average of 16.5 residential estate sales each year in Central, Northwest & West Austin; we no longer serve Bastrop, Buda, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Lakeway, Onion Creek, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Sun City & other outlying areas.
Our eight top money-makers, each bringing in more than $40,000, had little in common:
1. Bold Ruler, Davenport Ranch, 78746 (Feb. 2011) focused on contemporary furniture, electronics & designer clothing.
2. Dexter, Barton Heights, 78704 (Dec. 2011) was packed with original art, antiques & early Texas pottery.
3. Brushy Glen, Woodcliff, 78753 (Aug. 2018) hoarded books, dinnerware & MIB holiday decorations.
4. Richcreek, Crestview, 78757 (Mar. 2013) included gold jewelry, primitives & Texas arrowheads.
5. Academy, Travis Heights, 78704 (Jan. 2015) had antique furniture, Texana & early Texas art.
6. Cheswick, West Rim, 78746 (Sept. 2018) showcased antique American furniture, Steuben & other crystal.
7. N. Weston, Rob Roy on the Lake, 78733 (May 2013) featured designer furniture, electronics & oriental rugs.
8. Churchill Downs, Davenport Ranch, 78746 (June 2019) contained contemporary furniture, art glass & designer clothing.
Note that these eight sales were held in eight different months. Which just goes to show that an excellent estate sale can happen just about anytime of the year in the Austin area.
The biggest misconception about Anne Dee ESTATE SALES is that we only do sales with antiques & vintage items.
So. Not. True.
Sure, we really know antiques - as any estate sale professional must to avoid unknowingly shortchanging their clients - but standard household goods sell just fine, thank you. In fact, second-hand items from Crate & Barrel, IKEA, John-William Interiors, Louis Shanks, Macy's, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Smith & Hawken, Williams-Sonoma & other popular retailers are always in great demand.
Q#2 - What do you charge for your services?
A - Since our first estate sale in 2007, we have charged 38% commission from proceeds of in-house sales. Although most local companies want 35% to 50%, we see no reason to raise or lower our rates.
Q#3 - Why should we use your company?
A - We know what we're doing & we've been doing it longer than most (Anne Dee ESTATE SALES has produced 204 estate sales since June 2007). Take a look at this email:
"You won't believe this. I go to the last day of a [central Austin estate] sale today & sitting inside a kitchen cabinet with florists vases & measuring cups is this ewer. Priced at $8, but this is half-price day, of course.... Thank God, you pulled out that vase at the Cedar Park interview [last week] so the Rookwood mark was fresh in my mind. 1888, signed by one of their famous artists, Matt Daly. From research I've done, I think the value is between $500 & $1,000."
How in the world did this marked Rookwood pitcher escape notice of the estate sale company who was running the sale? How? The person who was pricing didn't have a clue. And, unfortunately, more & more people who don't have a background in antiques or even business, who have absolutely no qualifications, decide to launch a website & enter the field because "it sounds like fun." Truth be told, however, if done right, running a lucrative sale is a great deal of work. An excellent estate sale professional will make sure that every item is researched. The Internet is a great place to start, but the person who does the pricing has to intuitively know all sorts of things, such as the difference between Navajo & Zapotec rugs, original Carnival glass versus reproduction, good & bad art, good & bad costume jewelry & so on.
While there are no excuses for marked items, unmarked pieces obviously pose a problem for the uneducated. We found, at Estate Sale #110, a stoneware pitcher with no marks & no provenance. Our instincts told us it was Meyer, but we went ahead & contacted an expert on early Texas pottery. Sure enough, on February 24, 2013, this exceptional piece of San Antonio pottery sold on eBay for $455. A less cognizant company might have priced it at $25 or so.
As another example, we learned the current value of a vintage perfume while checking out dozens of fragrances on the Internet. Only one proved to be exceptionally pricey: Caron's Le Tabac Blond, a French unisex perfume with scents of leather, tobacco leaves, vanilla. On February 27, 2012, our first two bottles sold on eBay for $747.17; altogether, six bottles from Estate Sales #86 & #87 totaled $1,952.66. That's $325.44 per bottle! Who'd have thunk it?
Folk art values can also be a challenge to the uninitiated. On February 26, 2012, a 17" plywood "Guarding Angel" by Howard Finster sold on eBay for $365 & a second piece, "Uncle Sam for Worlds Peace", went for $382.77 on March 9, 2012. Both items were from Estate Sale #86
Our advice: 1) Don't be misled by a nonspecific website lacking any real substance, 2) get proof the company you are considering has held dozens of successful sales & 3) carefully check credentials & references. Take time to do careful research or your estate sale might turn out to be nothing more than an indoor garage sale run by well-intentioned (or not) amateurs.
Q#4 - I live out of state. Is that a problem?
A - Not at all. We have worked with clients from Alaska to Arizona, from California to Canada, from Maryland to Mexico. No matter where you live, you can easily follow our progress by checking the website's "Next Sale" section. We post descriptive details & new photos almost every day while preparing your sale & we respond to your questions via email, text or phone immediately.
Q#5 - I just signed your contract to have an estate sale in two weeks. What do I do now?
A - All we really ask is that you remove everything from the house that you want to keep. If that is absolutely impossible, put the items that you do not want sold in a closet or bedroom that can be sealed off during the sale - & then let us do our work. Just focus on what you want to keep - it really is that simple:
& we'll take care of the rest.
The service we provide is all-inclusive. Our staff will deal with it all - from replacing burned out light bulbs to removing address tags from luggage, from individually pricing each item of clothing to taking what doesn't sell to charity, from researching each book to auctioning the exceptional titles.
E.g., our most lucrative book find ever was an inscribed first edition of "The Navy of the Republic of Texas, 1835-1845" privately published in 1909 by Dr. Alexander Dienst Jr. (1870-1938) of Temple, TX. This extremely rare piece of Texana, discovered by us at Estate Sale #124, sold on eBay for $2,599 on March 14, 2014. (Interestingly, prior to listing with us, a central Austin bookstore offered our client only $100 for this particular book.)
Q#6 - What if I want to keep an item after you & your staff have started to work?
A - No problem, but, if we choose, we can charge our regular commission for anything removed once work has begun. If you have overlooked small personal items, such as photo albums or your mother's wedding ring, we will, of course, cheerfully return those items to you.
Q#7 - I need to stay at my home while you are preparing the estate sale. Is that a problem?
A - We cannot get productive work done if there are people or pets hanging around the premises. Please make other arrangements & be completely moved out before we move in. Absolutely. No. Exceptions.
Q#8 - Should I throw away junk stored in the garage?
A - With the exception of tax returns, cancelled checks, private correspondence & other personal ephemera, prescription drugs & opened or otherwise expired containers of food & drink, please do not dispose of anything before hiring us. Vintage magazines, postcards, photographs & calendars can have unexpected value; ordinary items such as toys & tools can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
An unassuming box of 16 wooden toys was a fun find at Estate Sale #122. We sold these mid-century Creative Playthings by Swiss toy designer Antonio Vitali on eBay for $938 on November 25, 2013.
While preparing Estate Sale #63, we spotted an old football program in a bag of trash discarded by the client. On March 27, 2011, this 1966 Michigan State Spartans-Notre Dame Fighting Irish souvenir program sold on eBay for $228.49.
Cabinet cards are a type of portraiture photograph popular in the late 1800s; today most of these photos sell for less than $10. However, not all cards are created equal. On September 22, 1892, renowned NYC photographer Charles Eisenmann captured the image of Miss Lulu, Tattooed Princess with the Sells Brothers Circus. One hundred twenty years later, on April 24, 2012, with 17 bids on eBay, tat lady sold for $224.50.
Q#9 - So everything is of value?
A - Well, not everything. The following items don't have much of a market:
Cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions, outdated computer & other obsolete electronic equipment;
Reader's Digest Condensed Books, out-of-date travel & textbooks, mass market paperbacks, microwave cookbooks, National Geographic, Reader's Digest & contemporary shelter magazines, old newspapers, single greeting cards, cassette tapes, homemade videos;
Florist vases & budvases (clear, green, milk glass); everyday clear glass; single coffee mugs, glasses & stems; plastic give-away beverage cups; chipped glass & pottery;
Dried & plastic flowers; used candles; used holiday ribbons & wrapping paper; opened puzzles & other incomplete items;
Opened toiletries; stained & worn clothing, worn underwear; wire coat hangers;
Moldy or rusted appliances; expired packaged food & beverages; fruitcake & cookie tins; used orthopedic slings & supports, bedside commodes, hospital souvenirs (such as non-skid socks, vomit trays);
Waterbeds, stained mattresses & used mattress pads & bed pillows, tattered towels & other worn-out linens; rug pads.
Q#10 - How do you determine prices?
A - Our staff has more than half a century of experience selling antiques & household items. We've learned how to price antiques & collectibles, furniture, original art & prints, books, jewelry, gold & silver, china, glass & pottery, linens, kitchen & household, clothing, toys, appliances, tools & yard items so virtually all of it sells in a single three-day weekend.
For high-end antiques & art, we use price guides, local experts, the Internet & we don't hesitate to contact Sotheby's, Christie's, other auction houses. In May 2008, we sold, through Heritage Auctions, a client's Porfirio Salinas oil (autumn scene, no bluebonnets) for $7,000. A circa 1920 Manchester Kashan carpet, auction-valued at $7-$10,000, was identified & appraised for us by the Worldwide Head of Carpets at Sotheby's & a collection of five pieces of Sevres-style French ceramics were auction-valued at $11-$16,000 by Sotheby's Worldwide Head of European Ceramics.
Three of our 2009 finds which resulted in exceptional profits for our clients:
A 1979 lithograph, Pescaderas (The Fisherwomen) by Nicaraguan artist Armando Morales (1927-2011), went unsold at Estate Sale #27. Auctioned at Heritage Auctions after the estate sale, the 21.5"x33" print sold for $2,000 on November 11, 2009.
Found at Estate Sale #36, a silver Palmetto Regiment Medal with original leather pouch, issued ca 1850 to South Carolina Volunteer John Pitts, sold on eBay for $1,500 on November 8, 2009.
An 1822 terrestrial globe, made by America's first commercial globe maker, James Wilson (1763-1835) of Albany, NY, went unsold at Estate Sale #29. Auctioned on eBay after the estate sale, the 13" globe sold for $2,225 on August 23, 2009.
Q#11 - What happens to the unsold items?
A - Most items do sell, but usually some clothes & household items are left to be boxed & hauled away. Unless you reclaim them, we take unsold clothing & general household goods to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, Assistance League Thrift House, Austin Pets Alive! Thrift or Top Drawer Thrift.
We also recycle whenever we can, e.g., wire coat hangers are reused by our neighborhood dry cleaners & periodicals are shared at our library's magazine exchange; aluminum cans, glass, paper & plastic go in our personal recycling bins; unsold books are donated to Recycled Reads; worn towels & blankets go to Austin Animal Center; unexpired canned & packaged food is donated to the Capital Area Food Bank; floral vases go to Texas Home Health Hospice; used cell phones go to Cell Phones for Soldiers; prescription glasses are given to OneSight; medical equipment is donated to AGE of Central Texas; hazardous waste is taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility in southeast Austin.
Q#12 - When will my house be empty & when do I get my money?
A - Give us 48 hours after the sale to empty & vacuum your home, total & itemize sales & write a check. You will be paid by 3pm on Tuesday - & that's a promise we take pride in keeping.