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Estate Sale Services – What Do They Include?

Each estate sale company offers a slightly different menu of services and fees.  Some families may wish to use an estate sale company that is total turnkey, meaning one company offers a variety of services for the client, or they may just require an estate sale service.  It really depends on the needs of the client and an estate sale professional can assist the client with those decisions.

While all estate sale professionals conduct sales differently, all of them will charge a commission from the gross proceeds (the national average currently being 35%- 40%) but this fee may or may not include additional services.  The commission usually covers the conducting of the sale which is very hard work organizing, pulling out items, sorting, displaying professionally, researching, pricing, handling staff and dealing with the public (to name a few). Some estate liquidators will include the clean out of the home for this commission, though most may not, because the scope of work is extremely challenging and physically intensive.  The majority of liquidators will charge an additional fee for other services.

What are some other services estate sale companies may provide?

Some estate sale companies may offer only to conduct an estate sale for you and can leave the left over (unsold) items in the home if the client so chooses.

Other’s may include packing up and removing the left over unsold items leaving the home broom clean.  Many estate sale companies will charge an additional rate for this service post-sale.  This can include taking it to a charity or a buy-out person may purchase the remainder of the items.  Most clients prefer this plan, unless they want to go through the unsold items to see if there is anything they would like to keep.

Still, there are other clients who may need multiple services before the estate sale can be organizedSome of these may be:

1. An estate professional to walk through the home to determine the best option for selling the contents.  Not all scenarios are a good fit for an on-site estate sale, such as when the client lives in a gated community, high-rise, etc.  Some liquidators may have the ability to remove items from an estate and bring it to their warehouse or store, or if permitted, to another sale keeping the inventory completely separate and accounted for

2. You may desire valuation/appraisal work done on an item(s) to fully understand their value in today’s market, as well as the best resources to help sell them.  This is usually an hourly rate service.  An estate sale professional will have contacts and know upper tier auction houses that will be a good fit for your more significant items.

3. An estate consultant can also assist you in making decisions on what to keep, sell, donate, and discard.  There may be an additional service/fee.

4. An estate sale company can be hired ahead of time to empty/pull things down from attic to determine what should be discarded and what has enough value to sell.  The cleaning out of the attic or other areas may be an additional hourly rate.

5. Sort through garages, barns, outdoor sheds, and workshops to determine what should be discarded and what has enough value to sell.  Depending on the scope of work, this may be an additional hourly service; if they are conducting the sale for you, this may be included in the estate sale commission.

6. Coordinate and manage a consignment company or auctioneer, if an on-site estate sale is not a good fit. This may be an additional hourly rate.

7. Broker upper tier items that need to be sold in a more relevant market.  This requires a new contract, and fees are based on commission percentage plus reimbursed expenses.

8. Some estate companies are also move managers who can assist with your move to a new residence.  This is usually an hourly rate.

9. Assist with the packing of contents for storage.  Hourly rate.

10. Total estate clean out. With or without an estate sale, many clients want the home left completely empty.  This is probably one of the largest costs an estate can incur, but well worth it in order to sell the property and move forward again.  Rather than taking many months or even years, the complete estate process is complete expediently.  This is usually an hourly rate.

11. In cases of hoarding, hourly rates are higher due to the exposure of potential toxins found in the home and difficult scope of work to complete.

A contract should specify the estate sale company’s responsibilities to the client, as well as the client’s responsibilities to the estate sale company.  Both are essential in ensuring a smooth and successful process.  When working closely with a reputable estate sale company, it is important for both parties to review, re-review, and answer any questions or concerns regarding the contract.  If special requests are made and both parties agree, these should be added to the written contract and both parties retain a copy for their records.


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