Step by Step Estate Sale Prep

Authored by - Oct 16, 2012

Step by Step Estate Sale Prep:

Hosting an estate sale is a big task and doing it well is even bigger. Before you hire a company to come do a walk through of your home, decide what services you are looking for. An estate sale company comes in, stages your items for a well promoted sale and handles the set up, cash flow, advertising and closing of the sale. Many companies can include post sale steps like, donation of what doesn’t sell and cleaning of home once all items are removed. Find out what is include so you know what your roll is before the sale and once the sale is over.

Other services to consider before the sale is a professional organizer or “declutter”, these individuals will walk through your house and help you decide what to toss and what to keep. Many estate sale companies offer this service at an added charge, usually at an hourly rate or day rate. If you are not sure what is of value and what should just be donated here is a short list of keeps or toss:

Toss/ donate:

Clothing, linens, towels & blankets that are ripped, stained or damaged. (can be donated to humane shelters)

Toys missing pieces -toss

Furniture that is broken or “fixed” -toss

Items that have personal information in them ( i.e. binders full of business paperwork, files full of papers)- shred ( many banks offer shredding for free)

Worn shoes – donate or toss

Non working or parts missing appliances (toss)

Cleaning, garage and or laundry supplies ( many Humane Shelters will take these)

Overly used kitchen items: utensils that are burned, worn, melted- (if they are working donate if not toss)

Old TV’s that are not flat screen ( especially the big ones)- Recycle ( most places will not take these as donation and they do not sell well

All food that is open ( toss)

All food that is not (donate to food shelters)

Picture frames that are of cheap and have no interesting features- Donate

All Holiday, Except  vintage Holiday items- Donate 

Home made and Hand made crafts –(donate)


Keep for sale:

Vintage clothing (pre 1960’s), Hats, hat boxes, gloves, hankies, scarves

Vintage dishes, serving pieces,  ( all even the chipped ones will sell)

Pipes and tobacco related items will sell ( the older the better)

All Bar related paraphernalia  Old and new will sell ( bag up small items together like wine items)

New Clothing ( in fashion and in good shape)

wood hangers



electronics that are working and with all the pieces ( seriously outdated computers can be donated)

Pictures that are black and white (even personal ones ) will sell ( older color photo’s and newer color photos usually don’t sell )

Frames of interest (take out personal pictures first)

Kitchen items in good condition

Unused house hold good such as napkins, paper towels, plastic bags, kitchen storage bags. These will sell

Bedding in good condition. Match up sheet sets and bind with cord or masking tape, and label the size

Table clothes, cloth napkins, place mats. ( use binder clips to keep like items together)

Rugs in good shape (roll up )

Bag up in a ziplock large bag, contents of desk drawers (pens, pencils, paperclips, tape, scissors, etc) they will sell in bagged sets)

Old Pens, Pre 1950’s paper items, advertising, magazines

War items

Guns- make sure your estate sale is prepared to handle gun sales

Bag up useable rags ( Rag bags ) they will sell

 Stuffed animals in ‘like new” condition will sell ( donate the overly used ones to humane society)

All good condition furniture  

Eyeglasses and sunglasses (even dated ones)

Cords, plugs, timers and such (wrap cords so they are not all loose)


Sewing stuff (box or bag items in a container )

Buttons keep separate

Books of all kind

Home décor- candle sticks, plaques, mirrors

Vintage Holiday items

 Office supplies – baskets, holders, racks, files, envelopes etc.

All Jewelry (broken, worn and good) all will sell


A good thumb of reference that works for us is if it’s Pre 1960’s most likely it will sell. If you can’t determine if it’s too worn to sell…..toss it….. IF you don’t know whether to toss or keep make a pile of ‘unsure” items to be looked over, by the estate sale company.  Clean items sell, dirty ones might but they won’t get as big of a price as clean ones, so make sure your stuff is clean, washed, and smells good. If it smells bad, in any way even if it’s good quality tosses it! It won’t sell 

Lastly if you have family that wants your items you can have the estate sale company do a  pre-family sale, a day or two early, this way they get first pick of the goods, the pricing is done by the estate sale company so you don’t have to be the “bad guy” dealing with money and family. Prices can be firm or negotiable depending on your desire and you earn the worth of your items.

Alternately if you plan on gifting items away to family make sure all gifting is done prior to hiring an estate sale firm. Most often a firm will base the success of a sale on what they see during a walk through. If they do a walk through and take the sale based on what was seen, and you give ½ the items away before the sale it may not be worth that companies time or effort to host the sale.