Preparing for an Estate Sale

Tips & Guides Newsletter

Published by Semler Appraisals & Estate Liquidations
A Professional Service for the Valuation of Personal Property

Summer 2002    Vol. 4, No. 2 

Preparing for an Estate Sale

Here are some tips to pass on to your clients in the event they require the services of an estate sale manager. 

  • Remove all personal papers and family photographs.
  • Any items not to be included in the sale should be moved out of the house.
  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Dispose of prescription medications and alcohol.   
  • Remove ammunition from all guns.
  • Donate contemporary prescription eyeglasses to the Lions Club by dropping them off at any eye doctor’s office.
  • Do not throw anything else away. *
  • If possible, arrange to have the phone service left on for the duration of the sale.  This may be necessary for credit card purchases and it facilitates the pickup of large items after the sale.
  • Collect instruction pamphlets and brochures for household items, such as the washer, dryer, oven, etc. and store in one place.  They will be given to the new owners when the items sell.
  • Do not throw ANYTHING else away. *
  • If the home is to be sold, arrange to have the realtor’s business cards and the house graphics available during the estate sale.  Some people come to shop for the contents, some to see the house.
  • If items from a safe deposit box are to be sold, make them available to the estate sale manager.
  • If an automobile is to be sold with the estate, ensure there is clear title and have it signed and available for the estate sale manager.
  • Do NOT throw anything else away. *
  • The drawers and cupboards do not need to be emptied.  The estate sale team will sort, organize, clean, and display the contents of the home.
  • Select a charity to receive any unsold items after the conclusion of the sale.
  • Turn the house keys over to the estate sale manager, sit back, wait for the check and an empty house.

* Avoid mistakes others have made.  Let the estate sale team determine what has value and what is salable.

The Appraisal Process

Every appraisal is different, but all have several elements in common.  Each appraisal begins with an examination of the item or items.  The appraiser meticulously examines the property to evaluate characteristics, note condition, obtain measurements and take photographs.  The information is recorded on paper, in a computer, or with a tape recorder.  This phase is performed “on-site.”

Color photographs are taken with a 35MM or digital camera and included in the appraisal report.  Extra photos may be taken of details of the items to aid in the research phase.  If necessary, photographs are taken to comply with IRS regulations.

Value conclusions for estate and divorce appraisals are based upon Fair Market Value.  For insurance appraisals, the value conclusions are based upon Replacement Cost.  Research involves identifying marks and labels, verifying dates, locating comparable items, investigating appropriate markets, and consulting with experts, if necessary.  This approach produces an accurate report that fully protects the client and the property. 

The final phase in the appraisal process is the preparation of the appraisal report.  Included in the report is a cover letter detailing the process taken and definition of values used; an itemized list of the property appraised; and the appraiser’s qualifications.  A seal is impressed over the appraiser’s signature, and, if necessary, the report is bound.  

These are standard procedures for all types of appraisals.


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