How to Hold a Successful Estate Sale
What is an Estate Sale?
An estate sale simply refers to the selling, en masse, of most of someone’s possessions.
An estate sale does not always mean someone has died; it can be a great option for those needing to downsize. Whether it is a family looking to move into a smaller home or a senior moving into a retirement home. Just think of it as a garage sale on steroids!
How to Hold a Successful Estate Sale
Start an Inventory
It is important that you do a thorough walk-through of your home and create a list of everything you will be selling, as well as items you will not be selling. After making a list you will want to break it down into categories by room and keep note of the condition of each item on a scale of poor to new. Doing this will save you time and make it much easier to determine prices and where things will go during the sale.
Repair and Clean Items
Most of your items will be sold as-is, but if possible, a little polishing or super glue can go a long way. Items that may be deemed as “unsellable” can quickly be worth a few bucks!
This step will require some research. To get a good idea of the items fair market value, look each item up online to see what similar items are selling for. You could also bring some items to an antique dealer to get an idea as well. Keep in mind, the typical estate shoppers are usually out looking for some sort of deal. If you find yourself pinned between two reasonable price points, it’s not a terrible idea to go with the higher of the two – you will find no matter what you price an item at, most people will try and talk you down.
Ensure Proper Traffic Flow
You want to allow buyers to browse each room at their own pace, but without too much lingering. To achieve this you’ll want to keep items in the center of each room and try not to clutter any tables with too many items. The more there is to look at, the longer buyers will spend at each table. This should allow buyers to glance over the items and keep it moving if they’re not interested, but also have enough room for some folks to pause and deliberate a purchase without holding up other buyers.
Mark Items That Are Off-Limits
For anything that is not up for grabs, putting a large “Not For Sale” sign will avoid any confusion. There will always be at least one precocious bargain hunter who thinks they can persuade you into selling an off-limits item, but for the most part, it should deter the majority. Another alternative is to just put items that are not for sale locked up in another room.
Take Security Measures
Taking security precautions is very important; you never want to leave an entrance or exit unattended. If you’re able to have help with you, you should assign someone to watch the door to be sure no one leaves without paying for their items.
Any rooms you don’t want people in, be sure to close and lock all the doors so it cannot be accessed. Keep any cash or loose change in a secured box and never leave it unattended. Also, any small items that are of high value should be kept close to you at the cashier’s table so it is always within sight.
Take Good Pictures
Pictures are a great way of advertising your estate sale. Take pictures of the items you know will get people in the door. Bigger items, like furniture and appliances, are always a hot commodity and will drive interest. Cool collectibles, antiques, sports memorabilia and comic books are also hot items!
There are multiple ways to get the word out about your estate sale. You can place ads in local town papers, use online classifieds or even put up posters around your neighborhood. Craigslist is a good space to advertise your sale under the “garage sales” category – just be sure to specify that it is an “estate sale” to grab more attention. Put up any pictures you may have taken on the ad so potential buyers can get an idea of what they’ll find and maybe even plan out a budget for themselves.
An estate sale can be pulled off alone, but it will be much easier and run a lot more efficiently if you enlist help! You will need help with a few things from cashing out buyers to helping them unload large items into their vehicles. To avoid being pulled in too many directions, try to at least have 4 people on hand.
Have a Plan For Leftovers
You can be sure that not everything for sale will sell. With that in mind, make sure to call your local donations canters ahead of time to inquire their policies on large donations. You may be able to have a truck pick up items if you have a good amount left over or have someone take them to a drop off location. Do not leave large piles of garage on your curb without first calling your town’s waste management for permission.