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10 Tips: How to Choose an Estate Sale Service

Check the standards of the estate sale service you are considering hiring by visiting one of their current sales. Did the advertising provide enough details about the inventory, the location & the hours? Were the directional signs plentiful & easy-to-read? Were you greeted when you entered? Were there enough helpers to answer your questions? Were step-downs & stairs marked with reflective tape? Was the merchandise clean & organized in a way conducive to sales? Were price tags legible & securely affixed? Was the pay-out area organized & secure? Were credit & debit cards accepted?* Were bags, boxes & wrapping paper provided? Was the sale conducted in a professional manner?

*If an estate sale company accepts only cash, sales will be extremely limited. No one wants to leave an estate sale, drive to an ATM & then return to the sale; enthusiasm for the object definitely wanes with this unnecessary effort. At our February 2020 sale, Visa, MasterCard, American Express & Discover accounted for 78% of our gross sales (average credit card transaction was $93.49). There is really NO excuse for an estate sale company not to take credit & debit cards; the 2.75% cost is easily absorbed by any successful small business.

Pricing & buying by the same person is not ethical: it's a serious conflict of interest. Many of those who run estate sales are antique dealers or former dealers. If there is something of yours that they want to own, a trustworthy estate sale business owner should show on-line research that establishes value independently. However, some dealers who have become estate sale liquidators have no interest in buying for re-sale & find that this is a great way to stay involved without having to actually own the stuff.

Be sure to ask for & contact references.

Make sure that everything you & your family want to keep is removed from the house or, if that is impossible, placed in a separate area which can be sealed off during the sale. Should you overlook any personal documents, items or photographs, the estate sale service should be willing to put them aside for you.

If an item has national or international sales potential, the company you are considering hiring should be willing to place it with an online auction, such as eBay* or a global auction house such as Christie's, Sotheby's or Heritage.

Realize that state sales tax will be deducted directly from the total amount received. In Travis & Williamson counties, for example, 8.25% must be collected from estate sales. The estate sale service has a choice of adding the sales tax to the total cost at check-out or subtracting the tax from the gross amount at the end of the sale.

Your home should be left broom-clean. All trash generated by preparing for the sale & by the sale itself should be removed by the company you hire to liquidate your family's estate.

Realize that not everything will sell; some items may be overpriced, others may not find the right buyer. The leftovers can be donated to local charities or re-claimed by the estate.

You should receive your check, accounting & house keys within 48 hours of the end of the sale.

If you are pleased with the results of the sale, be willing to recommend the company to others by offering to be a reference or by writing a short testimonial for their website.

*A few of the exceptional things we have sold on eBay:

Nancy Gonzalez crocodile clutch purse @ $168.50. Aug. 2020.
Tiffany lamp base #532, $1,713. Mar. 2020.
Hartmann leather lawyers' briefcase, $410. Mar. 2020.
Hermes "Texas Wildlife" silk scarf, $370. Sept. 2018.
Lego 3450 "Statue of Liberty", $810. July 2018.
1927 Lenci doll catalog, $187.50. May 2015.
"The Navy of the Republic of Texas, 1835-1845" book, $2,599. Mar. 2014.
Texas Capitol ornaments, $367.04. Mar. 2014.
Creative Playthings puzzles, $938. Nov. 2013.
Royal Copenhagen dishes, $905.76. Sept. 2013.
Lalique swan, $2,050. Sept. 2013.
Leitz Wetzlar binoculars, $375. Aug. 2013.
Tapio Wirkkala vase, $257. June 2013.
Meyer pitcher, $455. Mar. 2013.
Loet Vanderveen bronze, $530. Nov. 2012.
Shoaf Bros. miniature jug, $315.25. June 2012.
1892 cabinet card, $224.50. Apr. 2012.
Blessings nun doll, $307.99. Mar. 2012.
German military steins, $488.14. Mar. 2012.
Vietnam military plaques, $688.40. Mar. 2012.
Elio Raffaeli glass egg, $338.33. Mar. 2012.
Howard Finster folk art, $747.77. Mar. 2012.
Caron Le Tabac Blond perfume bottles, $1,952.66. Mar. 2012.
1966 football program, $228.49. Mar. 2011.
1850 Palmetto Regiment medal. $1,500. Oct. 2009.
1822 American globe, $2,225. Aug. 2009.

Entire website contents: Copyright 2007-2020 by Anne Patterson Dee

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