If you’re planning a move and wish to bring only a select few belongings, or if you’re clearing out the space of a recently deceased loved one, you might be contemplating the idea of organizing an estate sale. Estate sales differ significantly from garage sales, which typically occupy a garage space and spill onto the driveway. Estate sales, on the other hand, encompass the entirety of a home and are completed on a much larger scale.
At estate sales, people typically part with items of various values, including valuable decor, jewelry, vehicles, and more. The reasons for holding an estate sale can vary, such as moving, downsizing, merging households, transitioning to senior living, moving in with an adult child, or managing the estate of a deceased loved one. Regardless of your motive, there are a few essential steps that everyone should follow when organizing such a huge undertaking. Make no mistake, an estate sale is definitely a huge undertaking. Here is some step-by-step advice on planning your own estate sale to make it a bit easier for you.
Assess Your Inventory
Once you’ve determined that an estate sale is the best option for you, begin by taking inventory of all the items you intend to sell. Keep in mind that customers at estate sales are interested in purchasing a wide range of items, from linens and Tupperware to clothes and shoes. Knowing the quantity of belongings you plan to sell will help you estimate the time required to organize and price your items, as well as determine the duration of the active selling phase.
Price Your Items
In addition to decluttering your own home or that of your loved one, a key objective of holding an estate sale is to generate revenue. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your items are priced appropriately. Pre-pricing your belongings will save you from being overwhelmed by customer inquiries during the sale.
To determine the value of each item, consult auction sites, thrift stores, and consignment shops. Leave some room in the set sale price for negotiation, as bargaining is often a highlight for many attendees. Additionally, refer to receipts from past purchases and sold listings on resale websites like eBay. Price your items at no more than 50 to 70 percent of their retail value to ensure quick sales and avoid being left with excess inventory.
Consider Appraisal of Your Items
To prevent undervaluing your items, consider having them appraised by an expert. Appraisers typically charge by the hour and can assess the top retail value of items. While these prices might be too high for an estate sale, the estimate will be helpful when advertising and selling the items to the public.
Getting the assistance of an appraiser is also helpful for items you believe won’t sell for much. Before donating or discarding them, an appraiser can advise you on whether they are worth selling and the best approach for parting with them.
Select a Date
The choice of a date for your estate sale depends on the time required to organize and appropriately price all your items. Once you have determined the time needed for organizing and pre-planning of the estate sale, plan your event for one week after the endpoint to allow ample time for your online advertisements to reach a wider audience.
While there is no universally optimal day for hosting an estate sale, take into account the level of competition in your area and the extent of your sale’s advertising. If there are numerous estate sales, garage sales, or rummage sales occurring on the same day, customers will have more alternatives to explore. However, if you believe your advertising can outshine the competition, hosting your sale on the same day might not pose a problem.
Typically, the most common days for estate sales are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you have a smaller inventory of items to sell, consider starting your sale on a Wednesday to gain an advantage over local competition.
Promote Your Estate Sale
Maximize attendance at your sale by advertising it extensively. Try a combination of online promotion and in-person advertising using street signs. While online platforms and social media attract serious buyers from a wider audience, don’t underestimate the potential of drive-by traffic.
For online advertising, consider utilizing estatesales.net, which charges a fee for sale listings. Additionally, distribute flyers and advertise your sale in local newspapers or antique publications.
Check Local Regulations
Some cities require permits for hosting estate sales. Check with city hall to determine if this step is necessary for you. Additionally, be aware of rules regarding the placement of street signs and any limitations on the number of sales allowed at a single address within a year. Even if a permit isn’t required, it’s possible that your city has rules and regulations that should be followed.
Prepare the Venue
The organization and presentation of items can significantly impact the success of your estate sale. Group similar items together to ensure that customers can easily see everything at a glance. Grouping items of the same type increases the likelihood of customers buying more, resulting in higher earnings.
Prior to the sale, wipe down dusty surfaces and clean your items. Remove any sensitive information, such as credit cards, bank statements, or family photos, from the home during the active sale to maintain privacy. Ensure that the space is safe for people to walk through by identifying and addressing any potential hazards or areas where attendees might slip or fall.
Consider Hiring a Professional Estate Sale Company
There are instances where it may be advantageous to enlist the services of a professional estate sale company instead of organizing the sale on your own. This includes situations where you lack sufficient manpower to set up the sale and handle the public, have a large home that would take an inexperienced person months or longer to sort through, are dealing with the emotional aspects of handling a loved one’s estate, or possess a highly valuable product inventory.
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Jenn Heller is the Operations Manager for The Volen Group, Keller Williams Luxury International, a top real estate team in Ponte Vedra Beach. Jenn has over 18 years experience in Real Estate all in Ponte Vedra Beach, she is an Atlantic Beach resident via Long Island, NY since 1991, a book worm, and loves sports, dogs and the beach.