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Is Your Estate Sale Waiting to Make Someones Day -- Against the House?

Posted by Tonza Borden on April 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM



Most of us have learned about people buying original works of fine art and antiques at estate sales for pennies, and brag about it on Antiques Roadshow. As professional estate sellers, we need to step up our game or suffer the same consequence.


That consequence results in financial loss by improper identification and research of important items, and loss in sales to estate auctions that are in direct competition with estate sale companies.


You don't have to be an expert to spot things of value, which is what you need to focus on to stop letting the pickers rob your estate sales and brag about it!


We all love to find things of value, but when we are representing our clients best interest, and our own bottom line, we need to become more vigilant in how to spot things of value. I cannot stress this enough!


We are the "sellers," therefore, it is our responsibility to document (inventory) all of the estate contents for sale, especially things that could easily be mis-identified and sold as a "mistake."


In addition to knowing how to recognize things of value, you need the right estate sale supplies to make your job easier -- and help your client achieve their goal.


We are living in the "baby boomer" era, which not only means there is enough stuff for anybody to sell around the world; our children stand to inherit fine works of art, antiques, collectibles and large sums of money.


So while we're on the subject of:  Is your estate sale waiting to make someone's day, could some of those valuables your children stand to inherit end up in the wrong hands?


More to the point, when your client doesn't know the value of certain items in the house, and hires you to "just sell it all because they don't have time to deal with it," does not mean they do not want their personal property sold for higher return.


Another way to solve this problem is to hire an appraiser to learn about the value of fine works of art, period jewelry, etc., but this is extremely costly.


However, it will benefit the client and you in the long term if it becomes necessary. Is the client willing to pay for this service? Are you?


What is a formal or certified appraisal?


A certified appraisal is a professional estimate of the value of something. People usually have items appraised for insurance purposes, tax strategies, estate planning and settlement, etc.


For legal and court purposes, there are specific things that need to be in a certified appraisal report. 


I discuss the difference between an informal appraisal, and a written certified appraisal report in my book:  Secret Of Estate Sales Marketing Success.


An informal appraisal of estate sale items is important, which is why all estate sellers must do an inventory, which lists the assigned price, how much it sold for, etc.


Estate inventory should not be sold until it is formally or informally appraised or an opinion of value (price) is assigned to each item.


If an item is going to make someone's day, yet cause a negative impact on the sale, it is done by under appraising (under pricing) items.


Appraising and pricing are not exact methods of assigning value to items, which is why clients don't always agree about the overall pricing. Moreover, sale items are negotiated and sold, which further reduces prices and "perceived" value.


In some pre-estate sale consultation scenarios, clients want a written appraisal or informal estimate of inventory return; and based on that information, they may decide not to sell.


Nevertheless, an estate sale is still the best alternative to a garage sale or buyout, which are more likely to result in making a buyer's day.


A professional estate seller should be able to educate clients on identifying valuable items, and what options are available for selling them.


In this business, you will eventually work with a client who has many things of value that they are prepared to sell. 


If clients have valuables that should not be sold at an estate sale, they need a certified appraisal report that will stand up to an insurance claim and in court. For example, if a client has a Louis XV arm chair that they insured for $7,000, then they will have to prove the value of that chair if it is lost to theft, fire, etc.


Personal property values fluctuate over time and insurance companies know it. Clients need to know it too if they want to protect their investment from being under sold at an estate sale.


Doing estate sales is truly challenging -- I cannot lie. But, the challenge also faces the client, which is why they need estate sale professionals to help them dispose of all that stuff!


Finally, there are responsibilities of disposing of your clients' personal property wisely, and for their benefit. The word "personal" in personal property means these items belonged to someone; so there are sentiments, emotions and perceived high value attached to it as well.


Being able to address the value of your clients' personal belongings will lessen their pain and more importantly: You will not be embarrassed by selling something of high net worth for pennies. Remember, an estate sale is not a garage sale. Learn how to identify valuable things, and get the best estate sale supplies to help you do it!


Thanks for reading. Post a Comment to ask me anything about estate sales!

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Written by Tonza Borden from Atlanta, Georgia:  Hi, I'm estate liquidator of EstateSaleServiceAtlanta.com, and publisher of Secret Of Estate Sales Marketing Success: REAL Estate Sale Techniques & Templates To Go From Beginner To Getting An Endless Stream Of Estate Sale Clients. I help people find the resources they need to succeed in estate liquidation, worldwide. 

Categories: Estate Planning | Estate Law | Probate | Liquidation Administration

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