What stays and what goes
First, look at the space and layout of your new home and mentally set aside any furniture or sentimental items you want to keep—and that you have room for. If you don’t have space for a 12-person dining room table and chairs in your new home, it needs to go to someone who does.
Some common items estate sale shoppers look for are jewelry, art, antiques, furniture, silver and china and even appliances. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also include additional items such as cars or computers. Be sure to mention those items anywhere you advertise your sale to let potential buyers know they will be for sale.
Estate sale shoppers tend to know what they are looking for, so it’s important to leave things where you’d normally find them in a home. For example, if someone is looking for china, they won’t think to look for it in the back bedroom. They will go straight to the dining room to see if your sale includes china. Because shoppers will be meandering through your home, remove or clearly mark any items that aren’t for sale and be sure to securely store or hide any other valuable items that are not for sale.
Pricing your items is often the most difficult part of the entire sale. Some items that mean the world to you might not carry a huge monetary value. Remember, the goal is to downsize, and estate sale shoppers are looking for a bargain and will often be ready to haggle. Your favorite brass candlesticks can’t carry a whopping price tag with no wiggle room or else they’re going with you to the new place.
On the flip side, you may have items you don’t realize are quite valuable. Maybe the piece of art your grandmother gave you is actually an original worth several hundred dollars. This is where it pays to retain some help. There are companies that do nothing but run estate sales, and they work with appraisers. If you think you might have higher-ticket items, consider having a professional appraiser come in to give you guidance on an item’s actual value.
Another way to seek some guidance on pricing is to scour other estate sales and get a sense of what things are selling for.
Get the word out
It won’t matter how great your estate sale is if no one knows about it. Getting the right buyers to your sale is crucial. If you have a lot of computers and technology, you don’t want to attract buyers looking for antique furniture.
One of the best places to advertise your sale and the key items in it is social media. One post on your Facebook page or Facebook Marketplace allows you to show photos of a few of your big-ticket items and even a list of other groupings such as silver, furniture or books.
You can also advertise in your local newspaper or on estate sale websites, although those options are not typically free.
Ask for help
If downsizing via an estate sale is a stressful thought to you, don’t be afraid to enlist some professional help. Professional estate sale companies can come in, help you with pricing, advertising and staging and can also make sure the actual sale is organized and professional. Their cut of the proceeds can range from 25 to 35%, but that may be worth it if it helps maximize your profits. Estate sale professionals can even help donate and remove any items that didn’t sell. If you don’t end up enlisting professional help, it is advisable to follow safety protocols such as not letting shoppers in the door before the sale is scheduled to start, limiting the number of people in the house at one time, and hiring security guards or enlisting volunteers to help prevent theft.
Regardless of whether you want to embark on the sale yourself or enlist some help, it’s important to do a little research beforehand. Use a company that comes highly recommended by a friend or that has great reviews on sites such as Yelp.com. Reach out to your Facebook community for recommendations and suggestions, and then do your best to enjoy the process. Keep your eyes on the end goal of having a wonderful, new home free of clutter that only houses your favorite things.
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