Family Estate Sales vs. Estate Sale Companies
People have the best of intentions. When families are faced with the passing of a parent, they seek options for how to sell the items that remain after the family has made their selections. Often many possessions remain and they may not know of a reputable estate sale company in their area. They may feel they can do it themselves and save money paid out in commission to a professional by having a family estate sale. Although there can be well-run family estate sales, they can be rare.
There are many things that we are capable of doing on our own, but an on-site estate sale is an endeavor that truly does require a professional to handle. Here’s why a family estate sale can disappoint and why it is important to consider hiring a professional:
- Most family members do not understand the massive undertaking of arranging, organizing, sorting, discarding, setting-up, advertising, etc.
- They do not understand how to maximize proceeds by identifying value, grouping, finding the right buyers, etc.
- Handling the public in a family estate sale is no easy task.
- Professional estate sale companies have a ‘following’ and a database of buyers.
- Family can be taken advantage of in many ways, for example, if they don’t know the values, attendees might.
- They will not know the proper way to set up and control the crowd of buyers.
- Often, they will sell something for $10.00 that is worth much more, or price so high the items don’t sell.
- They may not know the difference between costume and genuine jewelry to be sold (this is common).
- What you paid for an item and what it will sell for are two totally different things.
- They may throw away/give away something of significant value.
- Seller beware. If you don’t know values, someone else will.
- The delicate balance of pricing: too cheap is bad, too high is equally bad.
- The family selling has a tendency to share stories/details of former owner with buyers.
- Do they know how to set up properly to avoid liability issues which can be quite serious?
- Family attachment = sentiment = lack of objectivity. A professional has no attachment and offers objectivity.
- They may be ‘penny-wise and pound foolish’ to avoid paying the professional’s commission. The professional will bring in more proceeds than someone who has no experience; they know how to squeeze every last bit out of the estate. Even with a commission, the professional can bring in more proceeds.
- From a time perspective, the family will take weeks or months to prepare for a sale where the proceeds are often slim. A professional can do it all in a short period of time.
- Those who conduct a family estate sale may not understand the secondary market for these items.
- Family generally does not possess the knowledge to identify a high dollar item or know the most relevant market/resource to sell it.
- Professionals often pull things that have value out of trash bags and dumpsters which the family discarded.
- Family does not usually possess the knowledge to price all items.
- It is emotionally draining to witness family possessions being criticized, handled, and walked out the door.
- Eager family and friends often expect a discount and pre-sale, which can be awkward to deal with.
- Family will encounter staffing issues for the sale.
- Family needs physical stamina for moving/removing, set-up. and lengthy sale day(s).
- Family lacks the name recognition of a professional conducting a sale.
- If sale is unsuccessful, you still have a house full of stuff and now have another problem to solve.
- Family lacks experience with negotiating and haggling of prices.
- Estate sale companies have the knowledge to know what items sell and what items don’t.
- Family may not be aware of issues like pets, odors, resident still on premises, unattended children, etc.
©2015 The American Society of Estate Liquidators®
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