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When Reality Hits, Estate Sale Companies Can Help

She hadn’t been to her dad’s house since he passed. She dreaded walking into the empty house, knowing it contained a flood of memories and a ton of personal property. As she put her hey in the door to the house she grew up in, the lump in her throat grew. When the door opened and she stepped into the house, emotion gave way to panic: “What are we going to do with all this stuff?

This typical daughter’s response is the “deer in the headlights” look, and you see it hundreds of times as you help people settle their parents’ affairs. The sadness of losing the last surviving parent quickly turns to dread, frustration, even anger, as a lifetime of accumulation hits like a brick. Some families struggle for months to try and figure out where to begin and how to sell their parents’ residential contents. By following a few simple steps, you can clear your mind and get prepared for the right kind of help: Estate Sale Companies.

Why use an Estate Sale Company?

  • Family may find it emotionally painful to sort through all the items.
  • It is very time-consuming and they may not have time flexibility to devote to pulling out everything that has not been disturbed in years, proper sorting, organizing, setting up, displaying, coordinating, moving, arranging, researching, marketing, hosting — all which can be physically and emotionally demanding.
  • An estate sale professional possesses specialized knowledge in the industry that will maximize proceeds, understand the local market, and assess what it will sell for in that region.
  • It is a specialized niche that requires tremendous skill to conduct a successful, lucrative sale. Some clients prefer that a professional handle the estate for them, alleviating the pressure and massive undertaking from the family and/or executor.
  • Geographically remote heirs need to rely on local resources, lest they keep taking time off work and fly back and forth, causing personal and professional strife.
  • If the real estate has sold quickly, often people will seek out estate sale companies to liquidate the home contents in a timely manner. If they did it themselves, they could take weeks or months to get ready for the sale.
  • To avoid any hard feelings within the family, an estate sale company can minimize tension because it’s in the hands of a professional, objective third party.

If you don’t know what to do, an estate sale professional will lead the way. A reputable estate sale company would advise you not to throw out anything, nor give away to friends or donate, nor clean, polish, fix, etc., until a professional can come into the home to best advise the family on what is sellable, what has some value, what can be thrown away, etc. A professional will know all this and so much more. Many families often make the mistake of throwing away items they believe to be junk, when estate sale companies know at first glance what it is and what it will sell for. Some estate sale companies also offer additional services to assist client needs: cleaning out the estate, emptying the attic/garage, packing up the remnants after an estate sale for charity, arrange for a buyer to purchase the rest. Some companies even offer cleaning services. Remember to ask the companies you interview what services they offer and how they can best help you.

Here’s how you can help them when they visit the estate for the first time:

Locate Important Documents ahead of time

Most older people keep their important documents in one place, such as a “strong box”, safe, or filing cabinet. What to look for: a will/trust, bank account information, insurance policies, medical statements, retirement and investment accounts, titles to cars and the house, location of keys, passwords, contact information of attorney and financial planner, etc. Anything of this type of delicate information should be removed by the executor.

What to do first

First, set an appointment with an estate sale company that has a wonderful local reputation. You may even want to interview more than one to see who you are comfortable with. Be sure to check your state’s BBB and Angie’s List and any professional organizations to which they belong, in order to ensure you are using the best professional. Often local estate attorneys, financial professionals, realtors, CPAs, will know estate sale companies they can recommend. You can also go to www.ASELonline.com to find a member of The American Society of Estate Liquidators®. If you need help emptying the estate, ask the estate sale company if they can offer you that service as well, usually for an additional fee. Discuss fees and contract openly, and ask any questions you may have.

It is best to tag, separate in one room, or remove from the estate, items that are going to be kept by family. Anything that is not for sale should be out of sight. This is necessary to give the estate sale professional a visual of what is left in the home to be sold without the other items there. If the estate is overwhelmingly cluttered or crowded, just let the estate sale company walk through the home, open cabinets and closets, etc., so they can fully understand the scope of work. Together you can communicate what your wishes are and how to achieve the end result.

Ask questions

What are your fees/commission? Anticipated set-up time? Duration of actual sale? Date availability? How long have you been in business? Are you insured? May I have references? Do you have an ‘A’ rating on BBB? How much staff do you have on sale day(s)? Ask away because a professional company will provide solid answers.

© 2015 The American Society of Estate Liquidators®

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