Why Estate Sales? Eight Great Reasons to Hold an Estate Sale

Estate Sale Today!

Let’s just start of by saying that we love estate sales.  (Okay, I admit we’re a little biased here at Exceptional Estate Sales.)  Admittedly, they’re not for everyone, but here are eight reasons you might want to consider holding an estate sale in the future.

1. No worries!

Whether you’re moving, downsizing or settling the estate of a loved one, odds are you have enough on your plate 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.  Sit back and let someone with expertise in the area unpack, organize, stage, identify, price, market and sell your items for you!

2. Time is NOT on your side…

Sometimes time is a huge factor.  Maybe your home sold more quickly than expected or you’re being pressured by heirs to sell the contents of an estate quickly or you need to clean out before putting your house on the market, but you start work in another state next month.  Whatever the reason, we generally require only 2 weeks to 30 days lead time to plan your sale and most of our estate sales are one day, occasionally two.  At the end of that, the majority of your items will have been taken care of and you’ll usually receive a check within 2 weeks of the sale.  Contrast that with auction houses and consignment stores, which often take several months to sell items.

3. Convenience.

Logistically speaking, estate sales are the most convenient way to sell your items.  Because the sale is run on site, out of your home, nothing needs to be moved or packed.  You won’t need to rent a truck or hire movers, buy boxes and bubble wrap or contact multiple vendors to see if they’ll take your items.  And if something doesn’t sell, you won’t have to go back to pick it up.

4. We sell the big items AND all the little things…

With a very few exceptions (like firearms or alcohol in Massachusetts) estate sale companies sell everything.  This means that not only will we sell your furniture, art, antiques, jewelry and electronics, we’ll sell your exercise equipment, paper goods, books, clothing and pots and pans.  We’ll even sell your car or (if the house is a tear down) your kitchen sink! Auction houses and consignment stores will only take specific items  and even donation centers will limit the type of items they accept, which leaves you stuck with a bunch of items that may end up in a dumpster (with added expense to you), rather than with someone who needs and wants them.

5. Hire a pro for less.

Estate sale companies generally charge a commission in the 25-40% range.  (Our rate averages 30%.)  Consignment stores usually take a higher 50% commission and will lower the price of your item over time if it doesn’t sell.  Auction houses take a lower commission – generally 10-20% – from the seller, but also charge a percentage to the buyer, meaning they have to take into account the added amount of money they will pay the auction house when deciding what to bid.

6. House not sold yet? Clean it out and generate interest!

If your house hasn’t sold yet, an estate sale can act as a de facto open house.  Most of our sales draw a crowd of several hundred people over the course of the day and we’re frequently asked at sales if a house is still on the market.  If it is, home owners and real estate agents can choose to leave a card or brochure for potential buyers to pick up as they look around the home.

7.  Don’t break your back.

At Exceptional Estate Sales we always have at least two movers on site for each sale.  That means that when the armoire in the upstairs bedroom or the giant sectional sofa in your basement rec room sells, there is someone on hand to get it out of your house without banging into walls or scratching the floors and you don’t need to lift a finger.  Isn’t that better than wrestling it out on your own or paying a professional mover to do it for you?

8. It’s fun!

We love what we do and we hope that our clients do to! It can be an eye opener to see your home rearranged and staged and it’s interesting to learn about newly discovered treasures and hidden heirlooms.  Sometimes an old friend you’d completely forgotten about reemerges from a box in the attic or basement.  On the day of the sale, you’re free to take the day off and homeowners often go out to eat, shop, visit friends or arrange a special outing for the day.  Regardless, our goal is for you to enjoy the estate sale process as much as we do!

Want to share an estate sale experience of your own?  Please feel free to leave a comment below!

Let’s Make a Deal: Some strategies for bargaining at estate sales

Making offers and bargaining for better deals can be one of the most fun parts of shopping an estate sale.  There are few things as satisfying as coming home with a unique and treasured find that was also a great bargain.  As someone who has been on both sides of estate sale negotiations, I thought I’d offer some advice for the beginning bargain hunter below.

Be Brave!

Yes, asking for a better deal can be intimidating.  If you weren’t graced with the gift of gab (I know I wasn’t!) talking to strangers is tough enough, without feeling like you’re asking for special treatment.  The important thing to keep in mind is that sales associates at professionally-run estate sales expect you to ask for a deal.  They’re used to it.  Besides, the worst they can do is say “no,” in which case you can still buy the item for full price.

Be Polite

Estate sale workers are people too.  This may seem obvious to some, but you should never begin a negotiation on a negative note.  Don’t criticize the pricing, don’t disparage the item for sale and don’t threaten the person you’re bargaining with or the organization or individual they’re working for.  All you will do is ensure that the person you are working with doesn’t want to help you out.  At all.

Pay Attention to the Time

At any estate sale, the goal is to earn as much money as possible for the owner of the items for sale, but also to clear out the house.  At the beginning of a sale prices will be very firm, since there is a lot of time left to sell the item and still a lot of potential buyers to see it.  When a multi-day sale reaches its final day or a one-day sale hits the afternoon, prices tend to become more flexible as sellers turn their focus to selling through the remaining items.  That’s your opportunity to bargain for a better deal.

Consider “Bundling”

You’ve seen those annoying cable/phone/internet ads.  “Bundle and save!”  It can apply to estate sales too.  For example, if you’re interested in buying a coffee table and you like the matching end tables too, let the person you’re bargaining with know.  They may be able to offer you a better deal in order to sell all three pieces instead of just one.

Think in Percentages

I know – high school math.  Yuck.

That said, thinking in terms of percentages can be a helpful tool.  At Exceptional Estate Sales, percentage discounts off the sticker price are a big part of how we communicate what bargains the sales associates may allow and also what kind of bargaining our client – who after all OWNS all of the items for sale – will allow.  If you consider the item, the time of day and what you consider to be a reasonable discount, it may help you get inside the head of the person you’re bargaining with.

What to Do If the Answer Is “No”

It’s going to happen.  Sorry, but no matter how reasonable and time sensitive your offer, no matter how politely you make it, sometimes the answer will still be “no.”  Which brings us to the next point.

Don’t take it personally

There are a lot of reasons that sales associates have to say no to offers.  None of them are because we don’t like you.  Your offer may be below a minimum price set by the home-owner or an offer that was already rejected by them.  Or we could be waiting to hear back from someone with a higher offer.  It may be early in the day and we’re pretty sure that we can still get a better price.  Whatever the reason, please do not be offended or upset if your offer is turned down.

Make a counter offer

If the sales associate couldn’t take $50, maybe they can take $75.  If it’s in your budget to make a higher offer and the object in question is worth it to you, try raising your offer.  It can’t hurt, right?  After all, you’ve already heard “no” once.  If that still doesn’t work, ask the person you’re bargaining with what the least they can take is.  If it’s more than you’re hoping, now it’s your turn to say “no.”

Ask to leave an offer

If it’s early in the day and you will be able to come back later or the next day, consider leaving an offer along with your name and phone number.  Not all estate sale companies will take offers, but if they do, and no higher offers are made, they may call and accept your offer if the object hasn’t sold after a few more hours.

Keep looking

If there’s one thing I’ve realized from shopping and working so many estate sales, it’s that very few items (with the possible exception of artwork) are completely unique.  If you are willing to keep an eye peeled and have a little patience, you may find your treasure at another estate sale weeks or even months later.  Plus every estate sale is different.  Prices and minimums may be higher or lower depending on the house, the neighborhood, the type of sale, the number of items for sale and the homeowner.  With a little persistence and luck, you can find what you’re looking for again.