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Estate Sales might just COST you money-4 tips on when to have an estate sale

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:48pm

How is it that we spend a life time accumulating STUFF, most of it tucked away in boxes for years, only to sell it when it's time to downsize?

One of my elder clients I'm working with now, just moved into assisted living. There are piles and piles of stuff left in her condo.  The team she's working with suggested she consider donating most of it.  But, because she really believes her stuff  is worth a lot of money she is dead-set on selling it. She wanted the items inventoried, appraised and sold. She reasoned the quantity must translate to quality.   

The team working with her spent a lot of time trying to explain that the exercise of taking inventory would take a lot of time, and would cost her a lot of money-more than she would make on an estate sale.

It's human nature to think our things are worth more than they are. We attribute the sentimental value to a monetary value.  Of course, consumers at an estate sale won't purchase an item at an increased value because it holds sentimental value for someone else.  I really haven't worked with many clients where an estate sale made sense. Here are some general rules of thumb:

  1. If you're downsizing and bringing most of your items with you, you likely won't have enough items to sell in an estate sale.  Puting them into consignment or donating them for a tax deduction may make more sense.
  2. Estate Sale professionals will want a "minimum amount" of proceeds to conduct your estate sale. An Estate Sale professional may want to make $3000-$5000 from your sale, which means you have to have about $15,000 worth of stuff to sell.  Boxes of books and dishes just won't add up to that amount!
  3. An Estate Sale won't work if you live in secured multi-family building such as a condominium or cooperative. You'll have to have your things moved off site, which will also cost money.
  4. It's worth the time to talk with a professional if you have a house full of interesting antiques.  You'll maximize your profit by making sure you understand the full value of your items and asking for the correct price!
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