Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Friday, May 14, 2010

Estate Sale Insights

The estate sale is over, and I have mixed feelings about it. In hindsight, it's hard to say if we would have disposed of our belongings the same way. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, right? :)

I won't say our estate sale experience was a good one, but it wasn't a terrible one either. Since we have no previous experience to compare it to, I can't really say if it went well.

I still don't have a dollar amount, and that will definitely make a difference on how I feel about it. The owner told me she has turned the paperwork over to her bookkeeper, and I will have a check within two weeks.

The owner did tell me that I had less stuff than they usually work with, and it was borderline that she would do the sale. I had four different organizations come to give me quotes, and two of them turned it down due to not enough inventory. I went with the company I used because they have a consignment shop for some of the better items that don't sell on the day of the sale. We had several pieces of furniture that did not sell, and they have taken them to the shop along with some Hummels and wall prints.

The pros of having the estate sale are:

They went through all our stuff and priced and displayed everything. They told me I should just leave everything in the closets and cabinets and they would take care of it all.

They held the sale and dealt with the public. They took care of the advertising. I did offer to put an ad on Craigslist for them.

They boxed and bagged all the leftover stuff and put it in the garage for us to donate to a charity. They didn't move any of the furniture they didn't take to the shop. Actually, they would have done that for an extra fee, but our son helped us instead.

They cleaned the entire house after everything was out, and they did a good job.

The cons of having the estate sale:

The fee is 33% of the total sales if the total was $6,500 or more; 50% if it was less than that. I'm assuming I'll have to pay the 50%.

It seemed to me items were overpriced and much more could have been sold at lower prices. Also, they had the sale on Mother's Day. I think a different day would probably have been better.

Although they did box and bag everything and put it in the garage, I felt they could have done a better job of it. Everything was just thrown together in a huge pile.

I didn't feel they communicated well. I had to keep calling.

If you decide to go the estate sale route, make sure you are comfortable with the company you hire. Do a lot of checking and contact references. I've heard many horror stories of people getting majorly ripped off.

If you have the time, I would recommend selling as much as you can on Craigslist and having a rummage sale for all the household items. We were in a Catch 22. The realtors tell you to stage the house for sales purposes. Then once you have an offer, things go fast. There wasn't time to sell the big stuff on Craigslist. Also, we live in a rural area and rummage sales don't do well. If I had to do it again, I think I would have sold more of the furniture ahead of time even if it meant some of the rooms were empty. In this market, it took a year to sell our house. I really don't think staging had anything to do with it. I think the main thing was the house was move-in ready. We had repainted almost every room, and replaced much of the carpeting. It looked good.

Either way, we may have ended up with the same amount of money. Rummage sale prices are much lower than the estate sale prices were, so it might have come out about the same. And, I didn't have to do any of the work setting up or cleaning up afterwards. That's a big bonus especially since we were already living in the RV which is an hour's drive from the house.

It's emotionally hard to see all your stuff thrown into bags and boxes. Our donate stuff has almost filled our 2 car garage. It's hard to get my head around donating all of it. I really don't want any of it, it just seems like such a waste to give so much away. Of course, we will have quite a tax right-off this year :) I had to make the arrangements for the donation. I think most estate sale companies take care of that, but since our sale was borderline, I agreed to do that part of it. It was harder to get someone to come out and take all the stuff than I thought it would be. The Veteran's Association is coming Monday for the household stuff and Wednesday for the furniture. They don't do both pickups the same day.

So, the lesson learned is don't buy so much stuff. And if you do, check Craigslist for used stuff first. There is so much quality used stuff out there for a lot less money. From now on, I'm not giving gifts just for the sake of giving something. If they want something specific, fine. Otherwise, I'll be more creative and either give gift cards or something consumable. Who needs all that "stuff" anyway :)