If a loved one has passed, you may find yourself in a difficult time when it comes to handling their estate. Understandably, you want to handle their items with grace and care, but managing an entire estate requires a lot of labor. An estate sale is a way to send their old belongings to a new home.
Estate sales are the process of liquidating a home’s content. It can be incredibly complicated and overwhelming, especially if you’re also dealing with grief after losing a loved one.
The pressure of coordinating and marketing the event can be stressful. We’re here to give you in-depth planning tips so that you can get the most out of your sale.
What Is an Estate Sale?
Estate sales are a common way of distributing a family member’s possessions after death. They occur in the person’s home, with possessions sold directly out of it. The sale is open to the public.
Many people enjoy attending these sales to browse the items on sale. They are similar to yard or garage sales, except estate sales offer items from their entire home.
Sometimes, the family might keep several of their favorite pieces. Otherwise, everything in the home has a price tag, which is why estate sales can also be called tag sales.
The objective of the estate sale is to sell their stuff for the most amount of money and as quickly as possible.
Why Do People Have Estate Sales?
From death to downsizes, there are a variety of reasons that people have estate sales. While a yard sale works for selling a few unwanted items, it isn’t as practical for removing an entire home’s belongings and furniture.
Hosting an estate sale is an effective and fast way to clear a property within several days, with minimal effort and less hassle. Here are the most common reasons why most people have estate sales:
- Clearing out an estate after a loved one’s passing—This is the top reason since handling the affairs of an estate of a deceased person usually involves estate liquidation.
- Getting a fresh start—Sometimes, people want a fresh start, such as after a divorce or separation.
- Selling a home—Real estate agencies sometimes refer their clients to estate sales managers to help declutter and make the property more sellable.
- Downsizing—Some home or building owners want to downsize their private or commercial property. Perhaps, they are preparing for retirement, transferring to a healthcare facility, or moving abroad.
6 Steps for Setting up a Successful Estate Sale
Setting up a successful estate sale is a great way to earn money for unwanted property. However, it can be challenging to know where to start. We’ll cover the six steps you need to coordinate and host your next sale.
1. Take Inventory and Organize Your Items
Walk through each room and space to inventory your items. Be sure to note down the condition of each item, which will help you determine the prices to sell it for later. When rating the condition, you can use a scale from mint condition to destroyed.
Snap photos, and write down each item’s label and a detailed description. Then organize those items by category to make them easier to find.
2. Determine the Belongings to Be Sold
It’s nearly impossible to sell everything in the home. As you take inventory of the belongings, you’ll get a feel for what you want to sell, donate and keep.
Start by setting aside the items that you wish to sell. Stay objective and put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Make sure to sell highly valued items such as furniture, jewelry, fine art, designer clothing, and household items such as crystals, silver, and china.
Once you set aside the items to sell, separate the other items. Organize them by items to keep, store, throw away and donate.
Make sure you aren’t selling items such as liquor, used helmets, and car seats. You could face a fine for selling liquor at a sale without a liquor license. Used car seats and helmets can be compromised if they have been outdated or have been through a crash.
3. Price Items
Pricing your items is both science and art. The primary objective is to maximize profits while selling as many items as quickly as possible.
Attempt to find a happy medium when pricing your items. You don’t want to turn buyers away by pricing the items too high, but you don’t want to practically give them away by pricing them too low.
You can get a sense of marking fair prices by conducting proper research. You want to see how other sellers are pricing their items. Secondary marketplaces like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Craigslist, and Poshmark will show you prices for similar items.
When searching platforms like eBay, make sure to filter your search by “Sold Items” or “Completed Listings”. This will give you a more accurate snapshot of what’s actually selling and what its true current market value is. Oftentimes, items are listed for inflated prices.
Take the 90’s cult favorite – Beanie Babies as an example. One quick eBay search may have you thinking you’ve hit the jackpot if you’ve got some stored away. Some Beanie Baby listings show outrageous asking prices in the tens of thousands. Beanie Baby experts describe this as a delusion among sellers and the vast majority of Beanie Babies aren’t worth much. An eBay search using a “Completed Listings” filter will show you that these Beanie Babies typically only sell for a couple bucks each.
Some professional appraisers can also help estimate the value of rare items like antiques and collectibles.
4. Advertise the Estate Sale
The more buyers that walk through, the greater the odds you have of selling everything in your home at the desired price points.
Try to attract a diverse group of buyers, from collectors and professional buyers to neighborhood residents. There are many ways to promote your sale to cast a wide net.
Some of the best places to promote your estate sale are:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Local newspapers and magazines
- Estate listing websites
- Online bulletin boards
- Facebook local resale groups
- Social media to your friends and family
- Old-fashioned signs
When posting an announcement, adding high-quality photos to your ads is helpful. Pictures build excitement around your sale and get people to inquire about them before the event. You can also gauge interest and see how much traffic could come through the door during the day of the sale.
5. Set Up the Selling Area
Presentation is another essential step that could make or break your sale. Display your items in a flattering way.
For example, if you’re selling a dining table, you may want to add an eye-catching tablecloth and table settings like forks, knives, and other kitchenware.
The idea is to give buyers an idea of how those items will look in their homes, which inspires them to pull out their wallets.
However, make sure to put a “not for sale” tag on anything that isn’t for sale. However, you could always stash those items separately to prevent confusion.
6. Hold the Sale
Once you’ve done all the planning and coordinating, you’re ready to host the actual sale.
Make sure you have a checkout station with all the necessary items, such as cards, pens, and bags. Also, be clear about the forms of payments you accept, such as cash, Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo, etc.
Consider setting a policy on whether you plan on entertaining price haggling. Negotiating can help you sell more items. However, they are also time-consuming.
During the sale, continually organize those items to ensure they are displayed nicely for new guests to view.
Have a Plan for Items That Don’t Sell
Before you launch your estate sale, planning for the items that you don’t end up selling is essential. However, there are other ways to get rid of those items without hassle.
If you can’t find buyers for those items, consider donating them to a local charity. Many nonprofits and charities accept clothes, toys, appliances, and items.
There are many ways to sell an item. Perhaps, there weren’t any buyers who could make it to the estate sale. However, listing your item on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or other online platforms can attract buyers. If your item is small enough, you can even ship it to their location once the buyer has paid you.
Estate liquidators will also purchase the items from you depending on how much value they place on them. Typically, they’ll give you less than what you can get on the open market. However, making some money is still better than nothing at all.
Lastly, you can dispose of unwanted items. Coordinating with a professional estate cleanout service makes it as easy as picking up the phone once the sale is over to have everything else removed.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re planning to have an estate sale, here are the most common questions people ask:
When Is the Best Time to Have an Estate Sale?
Typically, the best time of the year to have an estate sale is in the early spring since it usually kicks off the beginning of yard and garage sales. However, you may also have a lot of success in months when there may be fewer garage sales.
It’s best to have your sale on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday since most people won’t be working or have fewer obligations, freeing up time to attend your estate sale.
What Items Sell Best at Estate Sales?
Estate sales are a gold mine for shoppers, especially those looking for high-quality and unique items at reasonable prices. Don’t be surprised if you receive inquiries for nearly everything in the home, such as furniture, appliances, and even window treatments.
The best-selling items at estate sales include:
- Art: People love to decorate their own, and finding unique high-end art pieces is one way to express themselves and improve the design of their home. Original art pieces can be auctioned to the highest bidder since there’s something unique and authentic about them.
- Furniture: Buying furniture second-hand is eco-friendly. Consumers want to find unique and quality home furniture, whether it’s patio chairs, a couch, or even nightstands.
- Tools: There are many tools that consumers love to buy, such as trimmers, lawnmowers, blowers, woodworking, and yard equipment.
- Designer clothing: Items from expensive brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton can cost a fortune, especially when bought new. People who can’t ordinarily afford to buy designer clothing go to estate sales to find these items for a lower cost.
- Vintage home decor: Vintage goods like an old-fashioned typewriter can sell for a lot, especially collectibles. As vintage furniture is becoming increasingly hard to find, it’s also getting more expensive. Since these items are so rare, you can often price them much higher and sell them to the highest bidder.
Want an Ethical Way to Remove a Loved One’s Belongings? Get in Touch
Now you have all the knowledge to run a successful estate sale. But what about items you know won’t sell or didn’t sell after you hosted the sale?
If you don’t want the hassle of sorting, cleaning, and trying to sell a houseful of belonging, there’s another option.
Nixxit Junk Remove helps you ethically remove a loved one’s belongings by hauling those items away for you. Our expert team members will responsibly donate them to a charity or recycle them.
Call us today at 855-428-0176 to schedule a pickup for your estate cleanout.