A 30 year pro shares some details

Insider Report: Running Estate Sales

by Laura Kent


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We have been professional estate liquidators for over 30 years, and although the article "Can You Make Money Running Estate Sales?" covered the high spots, it left out a few essentials.

  1. A legal contract should be signed between owner and liquidator. That ensures the liquidator has recourse should any questions arise regarding rights to access the property and remove the items.
  2. A permit from the town should be attained, if required, so neighbors and local police are aware of the situation. This also gives the municipality an opportunity to assess the parking situation and time to place parking signs if necessary. Permits frequently spell out any restrictions, such as hours, sign placements, rain dates, etc. Even if permits are not required, police should be notified as a courtesy.
  3. Adjoining neighbors should be made aware of an upcoming sale, so they can be prepared for the influx of traffic and many strangers to their neighborhood.
  4. If this is a situation where the owner is still residing in the home, a decision should be made as to their participation in the process and whether or not they will be present during sale hours.
  5. If there are any pets, where will they be housed during the sale? Is there a safe place to store their housing, toys, food dishes, etc.?
  6. Is there a bathroom available for staff use? Public use? Are all utilities still functioning? In the case of "tear downs" or decease, the utilities are frequently off and the liquidators will need to make arrangements to accommodate this situation.
  7. Is the homeowner's insurance policy in place? Is a rider needed?
  8. What form(s) of payment will be acceptable? Cash only? Checks? Credit cards?
  9. What kind of advertising will be done and who is responsible for writing, placing, and paying for these ads?
  10. Is additional lighting needed? Display tables? Tents for outdoor items?
  11. How will crowd control be handled? Admittance numbers? Sign up list? First come first in? Are early callers allowed? We frequently have over 800 attendees at our sales, so this is a very important detail!
  12. In what condition will the location be left? As is? Neat and tidy? Broom clean? Professionally cleaned? And whose responsibility is it to remove unwanted and unsold items?

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All estate sale liquidators should remember that in most cases, the most expensive item the owner has is their real estate, and every effort should be made to protect the structure prior to and during sale hours. If good preparation and forethought is in place, the sale should be successful. Without it, it will be a disaster!

Remember that this is a serious business. You are being trusted with the collections of a lifetime, expensive real estate, and the owner's public profile. Discretion, compassion, attention to detail, and trustworthiness are the most important qualities an estate liquidator needs to be successful in this career!

Reviewed April 2017


Laura Kent is CEO of Plum Cottage Estate Sales and Appraisals EstateSales.net in Fair Haven, NJ. You can contact her at plumcottag@aol.com.

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