Understanding Estate Sales

For those not busy watching football or raking leaves, collectors and thrifty shoppers can usually find an estate sale or two nearly every weekend of the year. But you may have wondered how estate sales work exactly and are they the best choice for families who need to clear out a home after a parent or other loved one has moved into assisted living or died?

What you should know about estate sales

Unlike garage sales, estate or tag sales are usually organized by a professional company and often include the entire contents of a home.  Each estate sale auctioneer, or sometime real estate agent, has their own system but generally they take a percentage of the sales, usually 25 to 35 per cent, and will organize, price and advertise the sale.  Depending on the contract, the estate sale company will also clear out the house after the sale is completed, donating left-overs to charity.  Sometimes estate sales are held to liquidate assets in order to pay off debt but many are organized to clean out a home to get it ready to sell after someone has died.

If you are considering holding an estate sale, be sure to ask lots of questions about the sale, how much you can anticipate earning and if the company has experts to price items that may be quite valuable.  Ask friends and family for referrals and make sure the company is bonded and able to provide references.  An initial meeting and viewing of the contents of the home should be free of cost.

If you are shopping estate sales for treasures, check online first; many sales are advertised a few days in advance, complete with photos.  Get there early if you have your eye on something specific. Bargain estate sale shoppers may want to visit the last afternoon of the sale, when items are often marked at half off the listed price.

Estate sales are a good option for families who live far away from the home that must be sold.  Professionals will know how to price items and organize the sale, draw a crowd and keep things running smoothly.  Although the percentage of the sale may seem high, it is often worth the price tag to save family from trying to do everything themselves, especially caregivers and loved ones with careers and families of their own.