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When Is An Estate Sale Not Worth The Trouble?
Old 10-23-2018, 07:34 AM   #1
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When Is An Estate Sale Not Worth The Trouble?

My sister and I will be faced with this question soon, and I assume some/many here have faced this question, and might have helpful insights. I’ll provide more info below, but many may not need that, so how did you know it was/not worth the trouble?

We have planned on an estate sale all along, but now that I look into it there are a few comments and concerns:
  • We’re not interested in a DIY estate sale. Might eBay a few items, but very few.
  • It appears estate sale pros take 25-35% commissions, we’re OK with that as we’d probably just donate or throw almost everything away otherwise.
  • We read it typical takes 2-6 months to organize, schedule and complete an estate sale. We assumed it would take a month?
  • We read the sellers must completely vacate the home before the estate sale. Some pros don’t even want the sellers present during the actual sale. My sis moved in with our parents and doesn’t have another home, though all her belongings are in two bedrooms (that could be sealed off?). We’d expect to sell the house after the estate sale which could take weeks/months. But sister will relocate, so she certainly wouldn’t want to rent an apartment and move her stuff out, or move her stuff out in storage for the estate sale (2-3 days), and then move it all back while we wait for the home to sell.
  • The sale won’t involve cars or boats, just furniture and house contents. It’s all worth too much to throw away, but probably not even $50K (wild guess) - knowing we’ll get pennies in the dollar at an estate sale.
  • There are a lot of tools. Other than a grandfather clock with inlays, the furniture is all old but not “antiques,” I can’t imagine anyone would buy it. Lots of (real) silverware and fine china. There are tons of collectibles (art prints, Murano glass, hand carved chess sets, small sculptures, netsuke and various jade pieces, vintage cameras - Rollei & Leica, etc.), my parents traveled a lot and lived in SE Asia and Europe, they’re probably worth something but far less than my parents thought. Sister and I want little if any of it.
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Old 10-23-2018, 07:50 AM   #2
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My litmus test was when the "paid by commission" folks, who came to me highly recommended, would not take on the project due to lack of value then that was that.

I ended up donating to charity and taking the full value provided by my tax software. This was prior to the tax law change.

As far as vacating, that would make sense because you wouldn't want resident's personal property there that could be sold by accident. Maybe they would allow you to store her property there if you covered it with a sheet and then wrapped in up in twine or something AND signed a contract that released them from any losses to personal property.

As far as not being there during the sale, absolutely. If they are doing it on commission, they would not want the owners "hovering", second guessing value etc. They are putting in all the work up front and taking on the risk of a return. Having owners there to potentially jeopardize all that would not make sense.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-23-2018, 07:52 AM   #3
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Old 10-23-2018, 07:58 AM   #4
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How about donating the contents to charity, minus the sentimental items? Furniture is not worth anything these days, nor is fine china. Silverware is worth what you can sell it to the metal buyer for.

Collectibles are best sold on e-bay, but you don't have the time or interest for a houseful.

Feel out a couple of the estate sale companies to see what they think. What you think is worth $50k is probably worth a lot less, especially after the estate sale company cut.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:04 AM   #5
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It could still be worth thousands, after estate co. commission, if he were to outsource to them and go this route.

If he donates to charity, he will likely get no financial advantage unless he still itemizes deductions after the new tax law went into effect.

-gauss
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:06 AM   #6
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It could still be worth thousands, after estate co. commission, if he were to outsource to them and go this route.

If he donates to charity, he will likely get no financial advantage unless he still itemizes deductions after the new tax law went into effect.

-gauss
No chance we can itemize FWIW.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:07 AM   #7
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:11 AM   #8
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If the estate people will do it, have the sale and donate the proceeds to charity.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:12 AM   #9
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I've never done an estate sale so I won't speculate. I would think you could seal off a couple of rooms, but I don't know. If the doors can't be locked, people will probably snoop in, causing issues for the selling company.

If the collectibles are museum-worthy, donate them there. Otherwise perhaps there is an antique or consignment shop you could sell to, or sell on consignment?

Donate the furniture to goodwill.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:15 AM   #10
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If the estate people will do it, have the sale and donate the proceeds to charity.
I can't imagine going thru 2-6 months only to give the money to charity. I'd just donate everything to charity as is for them to dispose of for profit, and toss anything they don't want. I suspect we can put the furniture in the driveway with a FREE sign and most of it will disappear within a day, works where I live anyway.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:18 AM   #11
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given the effort involved, for me, that would have to amount to 5 figures. I guess the only other part missing from the calculation, is the effort and cost of an alternative.

You could also call up a local charity and have them come and pick it up instead of the hassle of putting it outside.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:24 AM   #12
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Here are my experiences:
When MIL back in Pittsburgh died, we took what collectibles there were for my wife. :Her fine china would cost more to ship than we would get, We hired an estate sale company. They are big back East where lots of folks live in apartments.
We ended up getting about $1.5 K out of it, which was found money.
When my wife died, I sold a bunch of her collectibles on eBay. Sold the pool table and dining room set to people at work.I had a bunch of small items which I took to the production floor and the people drew lots to pick.
Everything else, furniture, appliances, etc was disposed of either on Craig's list free or given to Goodwill.
Unfortunately, a lot of collectibles today are transient. For example, my sis has a beautiful collection of Wedgwood china that nobody wants.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:26 AM   #13
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When my last parent passed, we had an estate sale. Not for the money, but to get rid of stuff none of us wanted all at one time. We choose a company who also (for a higher commission) would clear out everything that didn't sell and take to donate for us. It was worth it. In the end, they earned their commission, we got a small amount of $, and the house was clear and ready to prep for sale, which is what we wanted.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:29 AM   #14
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Our plan is and has been very simple.

1. Ask our family to take one day to go through the house and take or put in storage any items they feel to be of interest or value.

2. We will make our move to the Apartment Building of our CCRC. (We'll be first in line, having owned a home in the associated Villas.)

3. We will hire four strong young men and three or four waste management dumpsters. A 100% disposal of everything, except appliances, but including the wall to wall carpeting.

4. The last part of the plan is to have the home repainted inside, and recarpeted.

Based on 14 years of living here, the total cost of the plan will be zero, based on the fact that houses in the complex sell for much more, when the incoming retiree does not have to spend for changes. Older people tend not to want to get involved in upgrading. Typically the difference in dollars is about $10-15K... a break even.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:31 AM   #15
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I can't imagine going thru 2-6 months only to give the money to charity. I'd just donate everything to charity as is for them to dispose of for profit, and toss anything they don't want. I suspect we can put the furniture in the driveway with a FREE sign and most of it will disappear within a day, works where I live anyway.
Friends who had an estate sale did not do any of the work. They were moving and had marked everything they were taking (which one would do anyway). Estate co came in and priced and organized the sale including putting everything on its website for national exposure (1200 bottles of wine too). This took less than a week. The sale date was the the day after the movers took all our friends’ movable stuff to their new location. Beaucoup bucks, little hassle. Not uncommon in Chicago.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:32 AM   #16
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I have seen a lot of estate sales and most are done within a few weeks from time of first phone call. Two months at the longest and that was due to severe house clean out situation.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:33 AM   #17
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When my MIL died my FIL had an estate sale. Like your sister he had one room of furniture/kitchen stuff that was off-limits. They simply locked the door. The sale took about a three weeks beginning to end. This was in Arkansas so that may affect the timeline but the estate sale company did everything.

He had a 2000 square foot home plus a huge barn with wall-to-wall tools.

The company didn't want him on the property during the process so he stayed with us. A couple who attended the sale ended up buying the house so win-win. I have no idea how much money he got but it was worth it to have someone else do all of the work.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:35 AM   #18
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Use an auction house, they will either come get everything and auction at a wharehouse or do it onsite.

Consignment store might be another option but they will pick the stuff they knkw sells, but you will need to wait a few months to get paid, they will donate if it does not sell.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:41 AM   #19
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When preparing DM's house for sale after she died, I chose to use an off-site auction service. I lived out of state, and spent a week going through every box and drawer in the house to find a few sentimental items. As part of their commission percentage, the auction company spent two days packing the remaining items (furniture, appliances, collectibles) to transport to their facility. They loaded any remaining items not deemed salable into a roll-off dumpster that I arranged. The items were cataloged and auctioned a week later.

Pros: The auction company left an empty house ready for realtor pictures after cleaning walls, floors, counters.

Cons: Since I was out of state, the final proceeds payment was 'slow-walked' (check is in the mail). Finally, a call from a lawyer family member threatening legal action magically resulted in the check arriving promptly.

In total, the auction proceeds were under $5k for a full house of furniture and collectibles. Pick an option that limits your time commitment to the project.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:52 AM   #20
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See if there is a resale shop around...



We moved my mom to a facility and I am starting to look what to do with all her stuff... I am going to contact a local company that sells used furniture on consignment... as long as it gets out of the house and I get a few bucks it is worth it to me...


I do not have much to get rid of of 'smalls', but I would look to an Ebay reseller to get whatever they can if there is value... it is is junk (like most of what I have) it will either be given to charity and they can decide what to do with it or throw away... we have already taken 8 trash bags of junk to Salvation Army...



No estate sale as it is only 1 BR and very little to buy.... and it is a restricted access condo so there is that problem...
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