5 Tips to Help Clients Prepare for Estate Sales

Real estate pros can share this information with their sellers to ensure their estate sale runs smoothly. Written by David Blue

The pandemic ignited a surge in home buying that we haven’t seen since 2006. A rise in remote work opportunities, a desire to relocate to less densely populated areas, and a large percentage of the population entering retirement are just some of the reasons people are on the move.

In a recent survey conducted by Blue Moon Estate Sales of more than 700 people over the age of 55, 19% reported they plan to relocate by 2023. And with houses selling in a flash, homeowners are often left asking, “What do I do with all my stuff?!” Selling everything in a home is no simple task, and just the thought can leave folks feeling completely overwhelmed.

Twenty-six percent of respondents to the survey plan to engage with an estate sale company to help with downsizing. The advantages of using an estate sales company are a compressed sale timeline, expert pricing and analysis, and a large network of buyers following estate sales on a regular basis. A good estate sale company will be able to stage and price the items in a home in one to four days depending on the size of the crew and the number of pieces in the home.

Here’s how real estate professionals can help their clients prep for a successful estate sale.

1. Decide What Stays and What Goes

What can be sold at an estate sale? Almost everything. Estate sales professionals can help clients sell everything from kitchenware to fine china, utilitarian furniture to fine antiques, bicycles to cars, and costume jewelry to gold and silver.
Make sure your clients have a general idea about what they would like to keep. Have them treasure hunt in their own home prior to an estate sale consultation. This includes everything in attics and crawl spaces. They can run into problems when the consultants begin to clear out these spaces and homeowners didn’t realize what was in the attic boxes and want to keep items. If they have any storage units, safety deposit boxes, or things laying around at a relative or friend’s garage, let the estate sale representative know what they will be adding to the sale as well.

2. Plan Moveouts Prior to Sale

Advise homeowners to move out before the estate sale team sets up. Your clients can take the items they want, and leave everything else for the sale. A buffer day is strongly recommended to tie up any loose ends.

Also, the homeowners should have their movers relocate any oversized items to the first floor. Large pieces tend to sell better when they’re easily removed, including:

  • Entertainment centers
  • Large desks
  • Sleeper sofas
  • Treadmills/exercise equipment
  • Pianos

2. Provide Extra Information About Items Around the Home

It’s not required, but it can be extremely useful to have any and all information about specialty or designer items. Providing information about what they originally paid for something as well as any paperwork or knowledge on designer and brand name items such as jewelry, clothing, rugs, furniture, or artwork are all helpful in determining fair market value and the promotion of the sale. Items that have been signed by or belonged to someone well known always need authentication of provenance.

3. Remove Any Personal Items

Everyone has personal documents and items floating around. Have clients gather up anything that has personally identifiable information on it, such as social security cards, military documents, medical bills, family photos, birth certificates, passports, licenses, pay stubs, prescription drugs, and any other items that may feature sensitive information and remove them from the home.

4. Point Out Potential Hazards

In the process of preparing the house for sale, if the homeowner points out some potential hazards, such as a loose stair or a low doorway, it’s important to share this information to help keep both team members and customers safe in the home. Even better, make those maintenance fixes prior to the estate sale.

5. Clear Out

In the same way that it’s difficult for a real estate agent to sell a home with the owner present, it’s a challenge to run a successful estate sale if the owner is hanging around. It’s best if everyone leaves the house and lets the professionals sell.

It’s important to point out that a professional estate sale isn’t the right call for all homes. In fact, a reputable estate sale company should not accept all clients. Advise your client to bring in an estate sale professional for a free consultation. They will quickly be able to assess whether the items will cause shoppers to form a line down the street or if alternative solutions need to be presented.