There are a few reasons you may find yourself looking for an estate sale company to handle a loved one’s estate or to downsize your own belonging. During these life transitions, finding a trustworthy team can ease your stress while hiring a company who mishandles the job can add more to your plate. How do you start looking for an estate sale company you can trust? Here is a list of five criteria you should look for in a trustworthy company.
Finding the company best suited to your project.
Start with a simple google search for estate liquidators in your area. In the U.S., there are over 14,000 estate liquidation businesses ranging from small to large. Each company is similar, but each will offer different services that may or may not be suited to your situation. Some companies specialize in high end auctions and are certified appraisers. Many estate liquidation companies can offer tag sales (traditional on-site sales) but do not offer clean out of the home as part of their services. Some companies offer a full range of services including move management, sales, auctions, clean outs and more. Interview several companies and ask questions about what services they offer while comparing it to your estate.
The initial consultation should always be free.
Estate liquidation companies typically will meet with you on site to evaluate the size of the home, property, and number of belongings. This consultation should always be complimentary and will typically last 30-60 minutes. Estate liquidators should be able to give you a rough estimate of what their services will cost however, they may also need to do their homework if there is a number of antiques or the amount of labor hours for their staff is a concern. Some estate liquidators will offer complete buy out options while others are not able to do so. Being clear in your expectations and goals will help both parties understand the scope of the job and kick off a successful sale!
Ask for their insurance.
There is not regulatory body in the U.S. for estate liquidators. Some choose to be part of professional groups that have requirements for membership however, this is not a requirement for them to be in business. Choosing a reputable estate sale company who is friendly but also insured in the event of an accident is of the utmost importance. The process of estate liquidation from initial sorting, cleaning, setting up, selling, and cleaning out can provide several opportunities for errors and accidents. For example, a staff member could cut themselves on a rusty piece of metal in the barn they were hired to clean out. During the sale, a customer could trip while navigating around items for sale. Requesting insurance information from a potential estate liquidator should include commercial liability for physical accidents and may also include errors & omissions coverage – in the event a staff member breaks any items while setting up.
Get it all in writing.
After all your initial research and interviews, a good estate liquidator should be able to provide you a contract that is signed by both the owner of the business and the executor of the estate. The person responsible for signing may vary depending on the situation. If you are simply downsizing, then it would be the owner of the belongings who would need to sign. If the estate is owned by a deceased individual, an estate executor, next of kin, child or spouse may need to sign. The contract should include the commission arrangement, when a payment date to the client should be made, the dates of the sale and all of the services the estate liquidator has agreed to. Some may even include details about their advertising and when the home is expected to be cleared out.
Marketing is key.
Almost all estate liquidation companies do marketing of some type. It can range from signage the day of the sale to a full marketing campaign through websites and social media. Knowing how a liquidation company plans to market your sale can determine how successful a sale will be, after all no one can come shop a sale they do not know about. Marketing for estate sales is done commonly through websites such as Estatesales.net and Craigslist. Some estate liquidation companies have a strong social media presence where they post information about sales to draw in a large network of potential customers. The highest value marketing tool the estate sale company should use is their email marketing list. Direct email marketing is key to building a loyal customer following ensuring you have a line waiting to get into your sale. Ask your potential liquidators how they plan to market your sale or if specific items need specialized marketing such as vintage sports memorabilia
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