How to Select an Estate Sale Company
It’s a good idea to have a plan regarding how to select an estate sale company before hiring the first one you find on Google. Chances are you, if you need to choose an estate sale company, you’re going through a significant life change, possibly because of debt, divorce, downsizing, or death. Time may be an issue. Emotions may run high. Money is at stake. You don’t want to make such an important decision under duress, so keep in mind a few tips when selecting an estate sale company.
Liquidating an estate doesn’t have to be scary or mysterious with the right professionals helping to guide the process. And like a trusted partner, the right estate sale company will feel like the right fit.
If you don’t know what an estate sale is - or even if you need to hold one, you might want to read up on what is an estate sale.
Attend a few estate sales in your area is also a good idea. That will also give you a better idea of what you want in an estate sale company.
Do you know anyone who has had to liquidate their estate? Talk to family, friends, and neighbors. Chances are somebody in your circle knows someone who has had to hire an estate sale company for some reason. Getting word-of-mouth references is a good way to find trustworthy businesses. Checking online reviews and the Better Business Bureau are also easy ways to see if the estate sale company is well established with a good reputation.
While there is no formal governing body for estate sale companies, a few professional organizations exist to lend credibility and education the field. The American Estate Society of Liquidators (ASEL) and the National Estate Sale Association (NESA) are two well regarded associations. Estate sale companies that display their logos can be held accountable to these organizations, which is another way to vet estate sale companies.
A lot can be said for an in-person interview. No matter what a business’ website or reviews say, getting a feel for someone goes a long way. Just as you’d get multiple bids when needing home repairs, plan to interview at least two companies to get different quotes. This works both ways, too. An in-person interview gives the estate sale company a chance to assess whether or not they can handle the sale, and give an accurate quote based on seeing the contents of the estate. This is also a good time to discuss availability, potential timelines regarding how quickly the sale needs to be handled.
Plan to show prospective estate sale companies everything up front so they can give a proper appraisal. After all, you might not know some junk is quite valuable...or vice versa. Also don’t make any last minute changes to inventory. Once a company gives a quote, that inventory should not change. This is usually written into the estate sale contract.
Estate Sale Contract
After or even during the initial interview, you’ll want to ask about the estate sale contract. This is where the estate sale company should explain how much they charge, what services they provide, and give an estimated timeline, from pre-sale appraisal and set-up, to operations, to post-sale clean out. Make sure to find out how they handle invoices and receipts and what kind of documentation they will provide post-sale.
Appraisals and Pricing
How does the estate liquidator handle estate sale appraisal and pricing items? Have they been in the business for many years and have acquired knowledge from experience? Which industry resources do they use. How do they compare market value? Do they use a professional appraiser for more valuable items? These questions are important when it comes to selecting an estate sale company.
Marketing and Advertising
Getting customers to your estate sale is key to making money. How does the estate sale company market and advertise estate sales? Do they list on the major estate sale advertising websites, like EstateSales.org? Are they active on social media? Do they have many followers/fans? Observe their online presence, or attend a sale to see how many shoppers show up to gauge potential interest in yours.
Did you know different states have different laws concerning sales tax? Did you also know sales tax, in applicable states, are required, even at estate sales? Be sure to find out the laws in your state, and then selecting prospective estate sale companies, ask how they handle sales tax. Some companies like to charge this expense to their client, so it’s good to know up front what is expected.
Bonding and Insurance
While this should be included in the contract, you’ll want to make sure the estate sale company you select is bonded and insured. An easy way to check on this is to view their company profile page on EstateSales.org for the "Bonded & Insured" status underneath their company name. Not only does this mean they have proper coverage, it also shows a level of professionalism required for success.