We Interview Potential Estate Sale Clients.

You might think that clients interview estate sale managers. Many do. But what you might not think about is that we're also interviewing you.

Whether or not I decide to take a Dallas area estate sale depends on many factors. I screen for some of these over the phone, but sometimes have to see the home and the conditions. Just a few of the factors are:

  • Is there enough? I do sales that I think will generate at least $10,000. Under a few circumstances, I'll do a smaller sale, but often at a higher commission.
  • Is there anyone still living in the house? I won't take on a sale if there's someone still there. I expect the occupants and/or the executor to have moved out and taken all the items that are not part of the sale.
  • What's the time frame? If you call on Monday and expect a sale on Friday of the same week, I'll turn you down. Not enough time to do a proper setup and more importantly, proper advertising.
  • What's the condition of the items? Damaged property is difficult to sell. A dirty house is not conducive to a good sale.
  • Did a smoker live in the house? Many people won't want to purchase items from a smokers home and I don't want to spend time in there setting up the sale.
  • Are the potential client's expectations realistic? An estate sale is not a retail store and I can't get retail prices.
  • Where is the house located? If you're in a gated community or a homeowners association with rules against estate sales, I'm probably not going to be able to help you. If you're geographically undesireable, I can usually recommend an estate sale agent closer to you.

This past weekend I visited with two potential clients. The first was someone who will be downsizing. The homeowner was taking almost everything to the new house, the house was dirty and disorganized, and it was a long drive on a Sunday (would be longer during weekday traffic).  I recommended a consignment store or a charity for a tax donation. The second family I met with was in a spotless home about a 3 minute drive away, but Dad was going to be taking all the good stuff with him to the active senior community apartment and there wasn't going to be much left. This family will probably bring me back to help them price the items and will run a sale themselves. I would love to help them by doing a sale for them, but it's difficult to tie up a weekend for a really small sale.

If you need an estate sale manager, remember when you call one, you're being interviewed too.

How Much Time is Needed?

One question that I frequently get about estate sales is how much time is necessary before the sale can be held?

CalendarI've had people call on a Wednesday who needed a sale that Friday. I've also had clients call months and months in advance.  The latter is definitely preferable.

There is no hard and fast rule about how much time is needed. A lot depends on the size of the house, the amount of the clutter, the cleanliness and whether the items that will not be in the sale have been removed from the house.

Our preference is to have at least 2 full weeks in the house once the items that are not part of the sale have been removed. The first week is used for the set up and sorting, cleaning the items, displaying them and beginning to research the prices. Once the sale has been "staged" the photographs are taken and the advertising begins. The final step is to put prices on the items. Estate sale shoppers today want to see photographs, and we prefer not to show prices prior to opening the sale to the public. This two-week procedure allows enough time to properly advertise.

Another consideration when trying to plan your estate sale is our schedule. The further out you can plan, the more likely we'll be able to get your sale on our calendar.

Give me a call if there is an estate or moving sale in your future.

Unsolicited Requests for Information.

Last month I received a letter, out of the blue, from a man in Warren, Ohio.

He started off by writing "I have no interest in selling this dresser, nor am I asking for an appraisal of it." He wanted to know the age, what would be the appropriate type of drawer pulls for the age of the dresser, and the name of the manufacturer.

Ellers-DresserAnd he sent these photographs (right):

Now, there's not much I can tell from the 3 photos he sent.  I cannot see the sides of the drawers, the back of the dresser, the construction techniques, any manufacturer's markings. I cannot tell from his photos if the dresser is old or new. I don't know the size. It appears to be wood, but maybe not. Maybe it's particle board.

And even if I could identify the manufacturer, the age, the type of drawer pulls, I would not respond to his request for information.

If you're at a dinner party and end up chatting with a doctor or attorney, would you ask for free advice? Well, ok, you might ask, but do you think the medical professional or lawyer is going to give you that free advice? Absolutely not.  And appraisal professionals, whether they are asked to provide values (for valuation purposes) or non-monetary opinions (evaluations), are not going to give away their knowledge either.

If you'd like to hire an appraiser, call first, get some details about how the appraiser works (not all appraisers will work from photographs), find out the fees involved, and schedule an appointment! Most personal property appraisers can provide you with their fee schedule, their business hours, their areas of expertise and their credentials. But you have to ask first.


Estate Sale Conference in St. Louis

I have just returned from the first ever conference for estate sale professionals. The good folks at EstateSales.NET (one of the sites where I advertise upcoming estate sales) put together a great line-up of speakers for the 230+ attendees from all over the country. We met at the Hilton Double Tree at the old Union Station building in St. Louis on March 26-27, 2013.UnionStationStLouis

In addition to fabulous presentations, the networking opportunities were priceless. I got to meet the Fulton & Coard team from the Chicago area. They hold 5 to 6 sales a weekend and have a staff of 80 people.  At the other end of the spectrum, I enjoyed chatting with Judi Cole out of Lafayette, Louisiana. She and her daughter are just starting their company and haven't held a sale yet. There were also some friendly competitors from the Dallas Metroplex there, too.

Some of the topics I found most interesting:

  • Appraising for Estate Sales
  • I Love Social Media
  • Selling Guns (presented by a senior investigator from the St. Louis office of the ATF to a very inquisitive audience)
  • Selling Fish & Wildlife (presented by a Special Agent from the US Fish & Wildlife Service)
  • Insurance, Who Needs It?
  • EstateSales.NET Usage
  • Estate Sales and Estate Law (presented by a probate attorney)
  • Commissions & Discounting

Conference attendees were treated to an evening of trivia on Tuesday, with prizes awarded in each round. My team wasn't any good at listening to a half second of music and naming tunes, but we did win Starbucks gift cards for getting the most correct answers in the U.S. geography round!

I returned home filled with enthusiasm and am looking forward to applying many of the interesting things I learned. Will I be there for the next estate sales conference? You bet I will!


March 1-2 Estate Sale (2013)

Looking for something to do next weekend? We're holding an estate sale on Friday and Saturday (March 1st and 2nd) at 4239 McKinney Avenue, Dallas (Uptown area).

It's in a small, but very FULL condo. The owner was a Braniff flight attendant. Remember the short-lived TV program, Pan Am? The owner flew during the same era. I'm guessing that she spent some time in Africa because she's got a collection of safari animals - giraffes, lions, elephants, etc.

Here's a small sample of what's for sale:

  • Sterling spoons
  • Furniture
  • Costume jewelry
  • R.S. Germany china
  • Vintage hot chocolate set
  • Nippon
  • Blue & white stoneware pitcher
  • Owl andirons
  • Glass
  • Lamps
  • Collections: cats, giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, perfume bottles, shells, baskets, toy cars, Dallas Cowboys, boxes, Christmas, frames, stuffed animals, plates
  • Books
  • Decorative art
  • Harry Antis art
  • Lotus Poppy Trail
  • Sabino glass
  • Purses
  • Wicker trunk
  • Braniff Halston coat

... and so much more!

We'll be open from 9:00 til 4:00 both days. Cash, debit and credit cards are accepted, but no checks.

Come see us!

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