Clutter Free Zone – Part 3

If you are downsizing or clearing a parent’s home, what do you do with the unclaimed, extra stuff?

Hopefully, you have been sorting into boxes marked for toss, donate or sell. You may want to do a garage sale or an estate sale.  Those are a lot of work to set up and run. If you don’t enjoy dickering, it may be too emotional to be haggling over your parent’s belongings.

If you only have a few items of value, you might consider Craig’s List, E-Bay or other online auctions. You may want to consider a minimum for which you would let the item go.  You might also consider a local auction or a consignment store.

What if you don’t want to deal with any of it?  You have gleaned the items from the house you want to keep. What do you do with the rest?

There are Estate Sale Companies. Most have an internet presence.  In this day and age, they need to be using the internet to promote estate sales and to sell items on-line.

How do you choose an estate sale company?

1.   Interview more than two companies. Call as many as possible for information on their services.

2.   What do they charge?  Most of the companies charge a percentage of sales. Some may have a base fee, like $500 plus a percentage of sales.  Avoid those with an hourly rate plus a percentage of assets. You want the company’s wagon attached to yours. When it is all said and done, you don’t want to owe the company for clearing the house.

Don’t let the percentage being charged be your only criteria in choosing a company.  Companies with more experience and expertise could sell your items for more money.  Be sure they will use on-line auctions and E-Bay.  You may have items that will sell better with a larger audience.

3.   Interview the company in person.  Most will want to see the items you want liquidated.  Have a list of questions and ask each one the same questions.

Estate sale liquidators have different philosophies.  Some sell everything from spices in the cupboard to cleaning supplies.  Others will toss/donate anything not in good condition.  What works best for your situation? What is your philosophy?

4.   Visit a “Sale” the company is doing. Observe how the employees work and interact with customers.  How is the sale set up? Can you trust them with your items?

5.   Ask for referrals.  Yes a company will likely give a referral from people that liked their services.  Dig a little deeper and ask questions like “What would you like to see done differently? What could have been done better?”

6.   DO NOT throw anything away before meeting with the companies.  They all will tell you this.  What you think is junk or trash, may be worth money.  Wait for the expert.

7.   How does the company handle taxes?  Most states, cities have sales tax.  Does the company collect and report the sales tax on your behalf?

8.   Once an agreement is reached, a contract is signed; items should not leave the premises until they are sold. Some companies will charge you a commission for items you remove from the sale once they begin work.  Be sure you have what you plan to keep removed before they begin work, or note the items in your contract.

9.   Ask how the companies leave the premises?  Is it broom cleaned?  What do they do with items that didn’t sell?  Will they take it to an auction or thrift store? Is it an additional charge for those services?

If you are clearing a relative’s estate, you may want to include your own things in the sale.  Companies frequently handle multiple family member items in a sale.

Whatever your goal – to be clutter free, downsizing or clearing your parent’s home – keep a vision of the end result nearby.  Keep your focus on the benefits of your efforts.  It makes the job easier.


Part 1: Clutter Free Zone

Part 2: Clutter Free Zone


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