Updated: Jun 29, 2020
An estate sale is often a crossroads turning point for the people who elect to have them. The Estate Sale industry is driven by the "Four D’s" – Death, Divorce, Downsizing, and Debt.
So, naturally, this can be challenging. That’s why a professional estate sale team is worth hiring. Not only can they organize and sell your possessions, but the right estate sale company should be able to offer confidentiality, sensitivity and empathy. The question that people ask themselves is always: "Why pay someone else to do it?"
After being in the estate sale industry and now finally owning our own company, 3plus1 Estate Sales has comprised what we hope to be a helpful guide to why you should have an estate sale.
#1 – Less Stress for You and Your Family
Our professional and experienced team is here to help YOU. Whether you have lived in the same family home for 50 years or you are moving from a 3 bedroom house in the suburbs to an apartment in the city, chances are you are currently experiencing one of the ‘Four D’s” and you are very overwhelmed and stressed out. You have enough to deal with already without trying to figure out how to dispose of each individual item in your house. By hiring an estate sale company to run a sale for you, you can eliminate that worry. Once you agree to terms with the company and you sign the contract (only chose an estate sale company that has a contract and is licensed, bonded and insured) then you hand over that stress to the estate sale company. And the right company thrives off the challenge of respecting, sorting, staging, researching, pricing, marketing and selling hundreds or thousands of items for you. This means all those things are stresses you have eliminated for yourself and your family.
#2 –Expertise in Valuing Items
The value of your possessions changes over time. A professional estate sale team will investigate the current scarcity and value of items. The knowledge an estate sale company has from years of experience in everything from antique books to a modern BBQ Grill pays for itself. For example, at 3plus1 we have subscriptions to numerous online sources that we pay for just to make sure we can get a current value on everything. From experience we know what most items are worth. But, let’s be honest, it’s impossible to know everything, so for those items we don’t know about we have multiple resources to go to for answers.
#3 – Far-reaching Marketing Tools
The best estate sale companies have several means of marketing your sale to reach the most amount of people and the right people. They will have a large database of buyers that can be tapped into and notified instantly once a sale is confirmed. Numerous ads are taken out on estate sale platforms that are frequented by millions every year. Marketing will be conducted on both a local and national level. From local Facebook groups and Instagram pages to old school flyers and road signs on sale day – estate sale companies have you covered. It is the responsibility of the company to advertise as much as possible for you. Most sales will be posted with 100-300 photos so that potential customers can get an idea of what kind of sale you will be having and which items they wish to purchase. The more interest generated the better the outcome of the sale will be.
We not only market your sale, but we market ourselves. That way our following grows, and each sale helps the next. There is definitely a community of estate sale shoppers and they each have their favorite company sales to attend. Our goal at 3plus1 is for customers to have positive experiences that keep them coming back time and time again. Buyers include dealers, collectors, retail vendors and everyday people and families who rely on estate sales for their needs and wants. They want to know they are dealing with a fair and reliable company.
#4 – Time is Money
If you are needing an estate sale quickly, hiring a professional is the best way to get that done. Most companies only require between two and four weeks from start to finish. It takes many hours to set up an estate sale. Sales should be organized for shoppers because studies show people are more likely to buy in a pleasant environment as opposed to a messy and chaotic one. At 3plus1 we are very meticulous with our set up and staging. We take great pride in it and any company you hire should too because that’s what buyers want when coming to a sale. Getting that professional staging takes time. Some houses are extremely organized when we first arrive but most are not, and we expect that. This all goes without mentioning that every single item in the house needs to be taken out of drawers, closets, cabinets and every little storage area in your home. That’s why estate sale companies bring in their own supplies and staging setup tools. They know how to maximize a space and display items to make it a pleasant shopping experience during the sale. Have you ever just emptied an entire closet and thought, "Where do I even start?" It’s overwhelming and it can take a long and sometimes tedious amount of time to finish. But a professional company looks at this and smiles, wasting no time transforming everything room by room. We personally love taking the time to set up and display the contents of your home. It does take a special set of skills to get everything done in a proper and timely manner. Thanks to one of those "Four D’s" you probably don’t have the time to spend weeks sorting and displaying every single item in the home. So, consider how valuable your time is and hire a professional.
#5 – No Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Companies offer many different pay structures. Some companies charge a flat rate set-up fee plus a percentage of total sales. Others charge just a percentage of total sales. Either way, most estate sale companies do not require any money from you upfront. After the conclusion of the sale, the company gets their commission and you get the percentage you agreed upon. At 3plus1 we know that during these difficult times a lot of people don’t have the money to pay upfront, while others would prefer not to pay for services until the job is done. So that’s what we, like most companies, have you sign a contract agreeing to the company’s terms and percentage and then when it’s all done you receive a check in the mail. Most companies will have cancellation terms to protect their upfront costs so always discuss that with potential companies before signing anything. You shouldn’t have to stress over money when you have an estate sale.
#6 – Sales are Physically and Mentally Demanding
Estate sales are physically hard work. They require a lot of moving, lifting and bending. Moving furniture around and lifting heavy objects isn’t just physically demanding it’s also messy. Do you really want to move those damp boxes you’ve had stored in the garage that include mouse droppings and spiders?
Or do you want to get up on ladders and crawl on beams to get heavy items only to then drag them down that ladder in 100-degree heat? Let’s not forget those heavy and awkward to move items that literally no one likes to move around. It takes special kind of people to want to do this for 6-8 hours a day, so hire them.
Do you know the difference between your great-grandmother’s precious vase and a pretty glass vase of minimal value? Many people are simply too emotionally invested in their loved ones’ treasures or attached to items that remind them of times that are long gone, to be able to separate the perceived value of an item from its actual value. What about your family silver that you never used because it was way too special and valuable? It’s possible that "silver" is just silver plated and not worth nearly what you think. Customers who attend estate sales usually know what they are looking at and what it’s worth. What if you thought it was silver plated so you marked it for a lot less, but the customer knows it’s actually solid silver and buys it for a price you don’t even want to think about! It takes a lot of emotional distance and a good eye to price things appropriately sometimes, and that is a time when a professional comes in handy.
Also prepare to have many, many arguments with family if you try to do this yourself. If the mother of six just passed away and left the estate to be handled to the adult children, that’s six very emotional people, six different opinions, six different ways of dealing with each and every item. Ask any estate sale company and they will tell you just how many disagreements they have seen in the first step alone which is deciding what to keep and what to sell. If you hire a company that is the only decision you will be asked to make. You won’t have to fight over how to display things, what to throw away and what to sell, what you should price an item at, how best to advertise and who is going to take care of the actual sale days.
Do you feel comfortable selling "junk" and can you deal with people who like to haggle? Let’s start with the junk. Most people think you should throw away the junk and just keep what is attractive or important to sell. What people don’t realize is that, in addition to collectors, retailers, and antique lovers who attend sales, there are many people who frequent sales that want "the other stuff". They are looking for the half-used bottle of cleaner under the kitchen sink or the towels you consider old or the coffee can of random mixed screws and nails in your garage. Once again, a professional thrives on selling obscure or surprise items. You will probably think "surely no one wants these old cooking pans” or "no one will want this cracked garden statue or this box of old birthday cards and scrap paper”. Guess what, they do want them!
Now for the hagglers! They are at every single sale in the dozens and hundreds. You price a hair dryer at $10 and they are going to offer you $2 and give you every single excuse under the sun as to why its only worth $2 and not $10. They might say "the color is outdated, there’s a scratch on it, or it’s just going to be my spare one”. Dealing with this for two days in a row requires a fair degree of fortitude and calm. You are going through enough already and the last thing you need is people devaluing your stuff and trying to pull a fast one on you. Let the pros handle the hagglers because they are very, very used to them!
It is also important to note that people don’t like going to sales that are run by the family. It makes them uncomfortable. It’s easier to purchase something from a company than it is from the lady who tells you all about the item you are buying and why it was so special to her. You mean well but it just makes people uncomfortable and it always results in loss of sales. That’s why most estate sale companies very strongly discourage the homeowner or family from attending the sale. I can tell you this as an estate sale shopper and an estate sale company owner. It’s a no win for all involved.
So, while I could keep going, I’ve reached my 6 tips. In summary you should hire an estate sale company because they know the ins-and-outs of the industry. It’s a company’s full-time job to produce a successful result and the great ones work diligently at perfecting that process. We develop strategic plans for each home because each home is different and should be treated as such. We have marketing strategies, expertise in current market value, background knowledge in interior design to help with staging, and trained staff to run and monitor the home during sales. Estate sale companies make sure your items and our shoppers get the attention they need. We also research city regulations so that your sale isn’t shut down. We accept debit and credit cards which increases sale profits and, most importantly, we are problem solvers and helpers and we love what we do!