WRITER | MARY ROSE KULCZAK
Hiring a Pro When It’s Time to Let Go
Modern treasure hunters know that X does not mark the spot for hidden bounty. Instead, they rely on Google maps and a list from sites like estatesales.net to find real gems.
For the average person, planning and holding an estate sale can be a daunting, emotional task. That’s why many people choose to hire an estate sale company to deal with the worry and work involved in what can otherwise be an overwhelming process.
“When we handle estate sales, it can be for a variety of reasons,” said Kathy Dittenbir of Wise Owl Estate Sales in Traverse City. “It can be the result of someone passing away or because an elderly person is downsizing and moving into assisted living. It can be a divorce.”
When asked about the process, Dittenbir said, “I do a free consultation and walk through with the client to assess the situation and see how long it’s going to take to get ready. It can take anywhere from a week to three weeks to prep. We price every single item. We stage it. We clean. We do it all.”
Dittenbir has a team in place that handles the sale over two to three days. “I think it’s really important to stage the items to make it appealing. During the sale, we are constantly reshuffling and moving things around to keep everything looking good. And that just helps sell things.”
Clients may be tempted to try to handle an estate sale on their own, but Dittenbir offers an alternative that can ultimately save time and make the client more money. “Our process is a lot quicker than it is for a DIYer because we do it all the time, and we are not emotionally attached to the items. We also know how to price things to sell.”
Need another good reason to hire an estate sale company? “You can avoid family arguments by just handing it over to someone else,” Dittenbir said.
Making A Smooth Move
At Everything Goes Estate Sales, owners Andrew and Linda Adelson service their Metro Detroit clients for a multitude of reasons. “The actual estate sale part of the business is small compared to moves,” said Andrew Adelson. “They are moving sales, but everyone calls them estate sales.”
“A reputable estate sale company will take care of everything,” Adelson said. “In most cases, the house has been sold. I recommend that the sale be the last thing that happens before the new owners take possession. Once my client moves the things that they’re keeping out of the house, they leave everything right where it is, everything they don’t want.”
Adelson and his associates will then come in with equipment and lighting to properly stage the home. “You need a flair for design,” he added. “When we set up for a sale, it looks like a store. We do a lot of display. We do a lot of set up. We do a lot of staging. You have to know how to research and price.”
When it comes to high-end real estate, Adelson does not take any chances. “We regularly work in houses worth $2 million and more, so we don’t want people walking through with anything that could damage the house. We take precautions. We control the sale with our staff in all areas. We do not allow customers to move furniture in our client’s house. That’s an invitation for disaster.”
Instead, Adelson’s company offers delivery services. His staff will also move furniture to the garage for pickup after the sale. Once the sale is complete, Habitat for Humanity will come to take remaining items, and the client gets full advantage of any tax benefits from donations. Finally, a maid service will come and clean the house.
Adelson said clients often express their gratitude for tackling the daunting task. “We went in, and it was just another day’s work,” he said. “We can sell anything from automobiles to airplanes and anything in between.”
Questions to ask when hiring an estate sale company:
1. How long has the company been in business?
2. Does the company have liability insurance?
3. Can the company provide a list of references?
4. Do they have a contract for clients to sign?
5. Are they able to accept credit cards?
6. How do they handle sales tax?
7. Do they provide equipment for staging the sale, such as lights, tables, display racks, and cases?
8. How are they staffed? Do they have employees or contract workers?
9. Are there extra fees for cleanup?