For at least the next decade, the United States is going to be inundated with the largest demographic of older people joining the ranks of “seniors” that this country has ever experienced.
This new trend signals dynamic changes for those dealing with, or getting ready to face, the estate settlement process and finding reputable estate liquidators to handle what mom and dad leave behind. In the last few years, a paradigm shift has occurred in the personal property industry. The majority of inquiries are now coming from Boomers asking for help with their parents’ lifetime accumulation of residential contents. They also are facing the eventuality of their own need to scale back, and they are uncertain who to turn to, how to sell what they have, downsize, liquidate, etc.
Prior to 2006, the inquiries for help were almost always from the Boomers’ parents, who only recently had become mentally or physically impaired, moved into a facility or passed away. Hence, the children are operating in a sudden crisis mode needing professionals they can trust to guide them through the daunting process. This is one reason why everyone is in search of reputable estate liquidators. Here are some other reasons:
New jobs and new careers surfacing in a down economic time are part of the reason for the writing this article. With all the cable shows on TV that promise estate treasures in every corner, estate professionals know the reality of the industry. Many people in unrelated careers who have lost their jobs have been witnessing how the industry is growing. So they conduct a yard sale for Aunt Mary and suddenly they consider themselves “experienced and professional” estate liquidators. They may be experienced and they may be professional, but at something else. Since so many are jumping on the estate sale bandwagon, a large number of these people are not working in the best interest of the client; they are only in it for the income.
The true professional, who has dedicated much to their clients and the industry, look and feel bad from these fly-by-night companies, knowing they are more ethical and proficient. There is much to know about the estate sale business: the pitfalls, liabilities, the market, values, what will sell/won’t sell, human relations, plus many other things. Not all are estate liquidators are created alike. With the influx of these pop-up companies no one has ever heard of before yesterday, it is especially important to seek out reputability. There is nothing wrong with new companies, we all start somewhere, but it is important to be honest and ethical with their clients.
Red Flags to look for: lack of professionalism; they don’t return calls, don’t keep appointments, little or no follow-up with the client. Do they carry themselves in a professional manner? A client may sense something isn’t right, and they would be correct in going with their intuition. A pronounced lack of working knowledge, doesn’t price items at all, no organization toward the end of preparation, doesn’t answer all of your questions openly. These can all be red flags. If you search and find numerous complaints or negative reviews on the company online or verbally, or you discover they have falsified company information or they are not who they claim they are, walk away. Always look toward their behavior, ethics, and knowledge, which speak volumes.
How do you find someone reputable? There are several ways to find estate liquidators that are reputable. If you hear the same estate sale company name used by more than one referral resource and multiple times, this is usually a very good sign. Look for: word of mouth through those who have used a company’s services before, through professional referrals (like the family attorney, realtor, CPA, financial advisor, church/temple, etc). Memberships in professional organizations also demonstrate the estate sale company is serious and credible (check with those organizations to make sure they are members). Go to ASEL’s Home Page and click on Find a Liquidator tool to search for an ASEL member in your zip code, http://www.aselonline.com/for-consumers/find-a-liquidator/.
Also, are they are well-known and respected in the community for their work? Did a loved one leave a recommendation or instructions to use a specific professional? Be sure to look for continued education, certifications, training, etc. to demonstrate their credibility to the profession.
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