What Do Estate Sales Companies Do?

by Drew Barton

Estate sales are not easy to organize, but professional estate sale companies have mastered the art of organizing events that connect sellers with buyers looking for high-quality yet affordably priced furniture, clothing, and other wares.

What exactly do estate sale companies do to make one of these weekend events a success? Let's explore what goes into ensuring estate sales are successful and yield the most value for clients.

1. Cleaning items

Before anything else can happen, all the items that are being sold must be prepared, cleaned and assessed to determine if they are in working order and sellable. If things are broken but still valuable, they can be sent for repairs.

2. Appraising and pricing items

Pricing items for an estate sale requires a lot more work and experience than you may realize.

Knowing what is valuable and what is junk can be difficult when there is a lot of old stuff and the owner of the house is not present to offer any details. Even if the owner is available, figuring out how much items should go for is not as simple as slicing off a percentage of the original price.

Condition, rarity, and demand determine what an item’s price tag should be.

Particularly valuable things, like a piece of art, are sometimes separated and listed online, in consignment shops. Estate sale companies are skilled at spotting these high-end pieces and have contacts who can offer more insight so these items can be priced and listed in a way that reflects their immense value.

3. Great pictures

Photographs are a powerful marketing tool and it’s no different from estate sales. Great photographs are the bait that gets the attention of potential buyers and draws them to the sale.

Taking great photographs requires a decent camera and a bit of creativity. Strategically arranging items for the shot and capturing items from different angles with a mix of close-ups and room shots is key to hooking customers.

4. Advertising the estate sale

Getting enough people with the right interests to the sale is quite possibly the most important part of organizing an estate sale. An estate could have some of the most valuable items in the world, but if people don’t know about the sale, it doesn’t matter, things won’t sell.

Estate sales need big crowds of people to work and finding those people takes a diverse and expansive marketing strategy that starts running days before the sale begins.

Some of the different marketing channels an estate sale company may use include:

  • Email campaigns to thousands of buyers
  • Online listing sites
  • Facebook ads
  • Craigslist listings

5. Organizing the logistics of the sale

The logistics of an estate sale can be complicated. Where will people park if the property is in a gated community or the heart of the city? Who will ensure nobody steals anything – or chase after someone who does? Are any specific permits needed to host the sale?

These are some of the major logistics involved in hosting an estate sale.

6. Arranging permitting

Most cities have rules and regulations for estate sales and permits may be required. The application may involve a fee.

Some residential areas with neighborhood associations may have their own set of rules and regulations too. This could include having to get permission from a homeowners' association.

7. Arranging parking

Parking can be a major challenge if space is limited or rules need to be followed.

If parking or permitting is impossible to arrange, items will need to be moved to another location. If there are rules regarding parking – like cars must be parked on a certain side of the street and facing a particular direction – parking assistants may have to be hired to ensure this happens.

8. Hiring security

An unfortunate reality with estate sales is that theft happens. Having security helps reduce confrontation, theft and provides a sense of security to all present.

9. Setting up and staging the sale

Staging items in ways that get people to notice them is a big part of what makes them sell.

Estate sale companies can get a mess of a room looking like a department store during the holidays but also arranged sensibly, so shoppers know where to find what they’re looking for.

11. Dealing with leftovers and clean-up

Although the goal of an estate sale is complete liquidation, sometimes things don’t sell and a plan B needs to be enacted. There are several options for dealing with leftovers, like donation, consignment sale, or throwing things out. This often requires ordering a service or transport to a new location.

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