Downs Law Firm, P.C.

estate sale

How Do I Conduct an Estate Sale?

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Preparing for an estate sale can be a difficult and emotionally challenging task.

You may need to hold an estate sale at some point in your life after a relative dies or goes into a nursing home.

Deciding how to sell or dispose of can be daunting. US News & World Report’s recent article entitled “Estate Sales for Beginners” gives you everything you need to know about how to hold a successful estate sale.

First, consider that no rule says you have to have an estate sale. If the beneficiaries agree, the items can be divided amongst themselves or donated to charity. If items are not good or marketable, this may be best.

However, if you proceed, it can be a long process. Keep these things in mind.

Allow Time to Prepare. Estate sales are more complicated than a simple one-day yard sale if you want to do it correctly and realize a profit. It can be emotionally stressful and challenging, so ask for help and support from friends, family, and professionals. Give family members a chance to “shop” and decide how you want to do this. Family members could draw a lottery for specific items they want, or you can sell some of the belongings cheaply to family members. After your family goes through everything, you might see that it’s not worth the time and effort to have a sale. Maybe you keep some things, donate some and haul the rest away.

Decide if You Want to Hire a Professional. You can hire an estate sale service. They’ll take a commission, such as 30% to 45% of the sale’s gross profits, but you may find the cost is worth it. The service will handle most of the logistics.

Consider Selling Some Stuff Yourself. If there are a few oversized, expensive items, you may want to sell them while the estate service provider or auction house handles everything else. This allows you to have the ability to negotiate if the potential buyer wants to deal, instead of letting an estate sale company do it; and second, you don’t then have to pay the estate sale company’s commission on that item.

Make the Event as Professional as Possible. If you do the estate sale yourself, you need to advertise the event and mention some items people will find at the sale, like antiques or sterling silver. You can have some music playing softly in the background to brighten the mood and make people want to linger longer, so they keep looking and buying. People like to negotiate, so you don’t get too set with your prices. Have a policy that the more someone buys, the more significant the discount.

Most estate sales last one to two days. It will seem longer.

Reference: US News & World Report (Dec. 22, 2021) “Estate Sales for Beginners”