Estate Sale Myths

MYTH:  My house should be empty before I put it on the market to sell

An estate sale is like an open house with hundreds more people attending.  We get an average of 3 offers on a house during an estate sale weekend!  We recommend having a realtor onsite during the sale to answer questions, or at least provide flyers if you plan to rent or sell home yourself. 
MYTH:  Sales do better in Spring & Summer

There is less competition with other estate sales and garage sales during the fall and winter months.  Estate Sales are indoors, so unless it is icy or the power is out, our sales have plenty of traffic.  Plus, people are looking for presents and items to sell for the holiday shopping season!
MYTH:  I should donate clothing, magazines, old kitchenware, etc before having an estate sale company do a consult

These items can be valuable based on the advertisements alone!  As the market changes, so does what sells.  Since we are on the front lines every month, let us decide what should go to donation or put up for sale.  Vintage clothing up to the 80's are hot right now!  Hummels are not.  This was the opposite last year, and may change again next month.   
MYTH:  Furniture is what makes money at an estate sale

There are always exceptions to the rule, but do not count on the furniture to bring in the bulk of the proceeds.  Housewares, tools, kitchenware, collectibles, and jewelry make up most of the revenue for most sales.  
Update 2013: Solid wood furniture is picking up momentum.  Lots of buyers are refurbishing and painting furniture to match decor. is a fantastic source.

MYTH:  All Estate Sale Companies are the same, just differ in rates

Estate Sale companies vary in many regards.  It is best to identify what is important to you, and find the company that fits.  Variations may include;

  • Effort put into displaying items - Best way to check is see pictures of past sales, or visit current sale
  • Effort put into pricing items - For a tag sale, not as necessary with auction style format
  • Knowledge of any special collections you might have
  • Advertising Outlets - How many buyers are they reaching, any additional costs?
  • Transportation Costs - Area serviced
  • Supply Costs
  • Payments Received from Buyers - Cash - Credit Cards - Checks 
  • Length of Sale - One to three day sales are common
  • Records and Receipts of Items Sold - Some companies collect cash into an apron, then count at the end
  • Communication during the Process - Would you like daily updates?  Some client just want to be notified when it's over
  • Clean Out Service after the Sale - Not always offered or needed
  • Availability - Some companies need months of advanced notice
  • Flexibility - Should you need to postpone, or keep an item, what is the policy?
  • Contracts - Should be useful in protecting both parties' interests
  • Accredidations - Since there are no state or federal regulations, the best way to ensure an estate sale company is legit is to check their business licensing, insurance, bond amount, and see how they are regarded in the community.  Better Business Bureau, Angie's List, Certifications Achieved, Volunteering, References or Testimonials, etc.
Expect to see higher rates or minimums for companies that put a lot of effort/labor into setting up the sale. Percentage Rates on the West Coast are on average 10% more than seen on the East Coast.