Downsizing Realities: Do You Have Enough for a Successful Estate Sale? (A must read before calling any estate sale company)

Not sure exactly what an estate sale is? Check out this handy, detailed article about what an estate sale company does.

So you know you need to hire someone to come in and clean your home, price and sell your items, and then clean it up before you sell it. Good for you! Knowing you need to sell your stuff isn’t the hard part; that’s in figuring out if you have enough for an estate sale company to come in and actually spend the time needed to get your home ready for a sale and to pay staff to work the sales themselves.

We’ve compiled this helpful checklist to see if you’re ready to pick up that phone and call and start interviewing the likely lengthy list of local estate sale companies. It can be a process, so why waste your time if you don’t need to?

For the sake of reference, in this article I’ll be focusing on the likely basic minimum requirements for an in-demand company with a large and experienced full-time staff; dedicated equipment; exceptional online resources and marketing reach; useful digital tools for both customers and clients to take interest in doing your sale. But remember, every estate sale company’s ability to help you is completely dependent on their unique resources, staffing, and experience. And the number one rule above all else before hiring any company is to visit one of their sales and see if you want them representing you and your family while doing business out of your home.

1. The Golden Rule is Amended for you.
Every company should be telling you “don’t throw anything away!” If they’re not, you should probably find someone else to work with. But before you even consider downsizing, stop throwing stuff away. So many times people want to help the companies by either preemptively donating their old clothes and kitchenware or throwing out their used makeup and linens – but guess what? Those are exactly the things an estate sale company depends on selling to make money for the both of you.

The more you give away to your friends and family or your local shelter, the less an estate sale company is able to sell for you and the less likely they are to come do the dirty work for you. Joy is, some companies will donate anything left over after a sale – so you don’t have to feel bad about not helping out your local shelters.

Your definition of junk is likely completely different from your neighbors’, and your neighbors are exactly who you need to come buy your things so you can get that extra chump change to move with. Here’s a list of some things we see people commonly want to toss because they think it’s “junk.”

Things not to consider junk:

  • Rusty metal objects
  • Outdoor statuary (broken or not)
  • Household chemicals and paint
  • Clothing, shoes, accessories
  • The “stuff” in the basement, garage, attic and shed

2. Taking your stuff with you? Double-check your moving rates first.
Many moving companies charge by the pound, and in our experience, once most of our clients who are moving cross-country find this out they end up selling a lot more than they originally wanted. They typically decide to sell their framed artwork, old trusty beds, or semi-sentimental pieces they could be making some good cash selling instead of transporting.

For example, many people want to keep that oversized mirror they loved in their 5-bedroom home, but don’t realize it’s too big for their new 2-bedroom apartment until it’s already moved and they have to sell it on their own via craigslist and deal with the headache of inviting strangers into their new home to negotiate prices.

3. A great sale requires a good mix of items.
Think about it – you have thousands of items for sale and there’s no way a company can get pictures of every item online. So a company has to entice shoppers each looking for specific items to visit your sale.

If you only have beanie babies (which sadly don’t sell very well anymore) and cheaper-by-the-dozen collectible dishes, you’re not likely to draw a big crowd. Spice it up with sellable furniture, modern electronics, classy dishware, desirable home decor, collectibles, and matching linen sets and you’re immediately appealing to most secondhand market shoppers. Once you get people in the door they’re more likely to purchase something they may never have known they needed.

Estate Sale companies know this, and they don’t typically take smaller sales unless you have some ridiculously notable pieces that will bring in some good money on the secondhand market. You could always consider grabbing some items from your neighbors before the sale starts to spruce up yours – but don’t count on the estate sale company handling the accounting for you. Also, they’ll likely require you all sign additional liability forms in case something were to happen to the items pre-sale – just in case.

4. Is your stuff in good condition?
Estate sale shoppers want things like new to be sold for much less than new. ‘Tis a harsh reality. If a company doesn’t think you have enough quality items to bring people to a sale, they’re not likely to take it. There’s a fine line companies walk when pricing, too: price too high and people turn around and walk out; price too low and they expect it to be too low, too often.

Make sure your items are in sellable condition. This includes:

  • Electronics and appliances that turn on, unless they’re antiques and are in-demand
  • Linens with no stains or tears (don’t have to be in matching sets)
  • Dishware: no chips
  • Unused supplies

Things that sell well:

  • Collectibles
  • Old toys
  • Basic kitchen supplies
  • Tools
  • Yard decor
  • Electronics
  • Modern furniture & home decor
  • Newer, working appliances

5. Is your house clear of debris, bad odor, and (literal) trash?
It happens sometimes, there’s a smell you can’t get rid of. Shoppers and companies know that. But if your house is filled with mold, or you’ve left so much (literal) trash around that they have to put a lot of man hours in to clean it up before sorting the sellable items, there’s a good chance the companies will walk away.

There’s a golden rule every company will likely tell you when they talk with you: don’t throw anything away. Fine and dandy.. But practice some common sense on this one. You’re hiring a reseller company, not a cleaning service (unless they specify that’s a service they’re providing, which is likely an upcharge).

Throw out your old bills, your recent magazines (they don’t sell), the actual bags of trash in your home, and make sure any “debris” from pets you may have is thoroughly cleaned up. If there’s a bad odor coming from your carpet, clean it up. If you can’t stand it, customers probably can’t stand it. And if you don’t clean it up, the company you hire may deem it necessary to clean up so their customers actually buy your stuff, and then charge you a fee for having to clean.

Just a rule of thumb when hiring a company – they’re in this business to make money. If they don’t make money though, neither will you. If you’ve got a clean home, a range of sellable items, and what looks to be a promise of profit, start visiting some estate sales in your neighborhood or pick up the phone and start interviewing.

If you’re in Johnson County and think you have enough for a sale, or still aren’t sure, give us a call or easily submit online. We’re ready to help you figure out what your next step might be. We don’t charge for a initial consultation, and we always provide service with a smile.

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