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A Guide to Finding a Professional Estate Sale Company ~ Cindy Illig-Lum of The Timefinders LLC

01 Dec 2015 12:57 PM | Deleted user
When you lose a loved one or are planning a move, dealing with the lifetime of memories in the home can be emotionally challenging. Finding an estate sale professional that both understands the emotional issues and can get the job done and do it well, may be an added challenge. Your first step should be to visit EstateSales.net and do a search for companies that service the area. Then use these questions and answers to help you choose a company that is likely to fit your needs.

Are you bonded and insured? A professional company will be both bonded against theft and have business liability insurance. It is not a legal requirement for estate sale companies in Ohio to carry insurance, but a professional company will go this extra mile.  

How long have you been in business and how many sales do you host per month? The longer the company has been in business and the more sales they host, will translate into a more successful sale for you.  

How do you advertise your sales? A successful estate sale company will market a sale in a variety of ways. They will employ a combination of emails to their own list of followers, ads online on sites such as EstateSales.net and Craigslist, ads in local newspapers, and yard signs.

What do you charge? Most estate sale companies will charge a percentage of the proceeds in the range of 25 to 50 percent depending on the total value of the items, labor necessary to stage and host, and marketing needs. Some will cover all of the expenses with their commission while others will charge additionally for advertising, security, and so on. Note that a skilled company may charge more but they will also sell more and get better prices. Don’t base your decision on commission rate alone.

Can you provide references? Again, any professional estate sale company should be able to provide you with references. If you have time, contact the references to ask fact-based questions such as how long did it take for you to receive your proceeds payment.   

How do you determine the prices on items?  Professional liquidators use a combination of their experience, research and expert consultation. They should mention all three in an interview.

What happens with the remainders when the sale is over? A reputable company will offer several options including making an offer to clean out the remains, referring you to another company for a “buy out,” or referring you to a charity that accepts household donations. Most companies will charge an additional fee to clean out the home after a sale and should be able to at least estimate the cost for you. If they tell you the leftovers become their property, beware. They may overprice in order to retain your goods for their own profit.

When and how will I be paid? A professional estate sale company should pay you within a week following the sale. This, and all the details, should be spelled out in a contract. 

Do you use a written contract? If the company does not use a written contract, then do not hire them. A signed contract will protect both you and the company. Read it closely and be sure to ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

Do you have an upcoming sale I can attend? If you can only do one thing, this is it. Attend a company's sale and look for good signage, high attendance, carefully organized displays, thorough pricing, sufficient staffing, security for high value items, an organized check out area, and the acceptance of cash and credit cards as payment. 

Of course, if you have a few questions of your own, ask away. A professional company will welcome your interest in how they operate.

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