The estate sale process is exciting, but can also be confusing and a little scary if you are new to it. At Master Editions, it is our goal to make the process transparent, easy and even fun! To help with that, we’ve provided answers below to some of the most common questions we hear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’re moving, downsizing or settling the estate of a loved one, odds are you have enough on your plate already without trying to figure out how to dispose of each individual item in your house. By hiring an estate sale company to run a sale for you, you can eliminate that worry. Sit back and let someone with expertise unpack, organize, stage, identify, price, market and sell your items for you!
With very few exceptions estate sale companies sell everything. This means that not only will we sell your furniture, art, antiques, jewelry and electronics, we’ll sell your exercise equipment, paper goods, books, clothing and pots and pans. We’ll even sell your car or (if the house is a demolition) your kitchen sink! Auction houses and consignment stores will only take specific items and even donation centers will limit the type of items they accept, which leaves you stuck with a bunch of items that may end up in a dumpster (with added expense to you), rather than with someone who needs and wants them.
Only you can decide if an estate sale is right for your unique situation, but we will be happy to consult with you over the phone or by email. Before scheduling an estate sale, we will also meet with you in person, at no charge, to walk through the house and help you decide if an estate sale is the best path for you.
Sometimes time is a huge factor. Maybe your home sold more quickly than expected or you’re being pressured by heirs to sell the contents of an estate quickly or you need to clean out before putting your house on the market, but you start work in another location next month. Whatever the reason, we generally require only 2 weeks to 30 days lead time to plan your sale, and most of our estate sales are one to three days. At the end of that, the majority of your items will have been taken care of. Contrast that with auction houses and consignment stores, which often take several months to sell items.
In order to secure your preferred sale date, it is best to contact us as soon as possible. During our busy season (April-August) dates can fill up quickly, so we recommend contacting us early, as we are sometimes booked 2-3 months in advance. Because of the logistical complexities of advertising, scheduling and staging a sale, we appreciate as much notice as possible.
As long as the homeowner has received permission from their landlord or condo association, we will be happy to consider holding an estate sale for you in your condo or apartment.
If your house hasn’t sold yet, an estate sale can act as a de facto open house. Most of our sales draw a crowd of several hundred people over the course of the day and we’re frequently asked at sales if a house is still on the market. If it is, home owners and real estate agents can choose to leave a card or brochure for potential buyers to pick up as they look around the home.
Our fee is based on a percentage of the gross receipts from your sale after a minimum fee is met. Our minimum commission is necessary to cover costs associated with advertising, supplies and all staff labor. We do not ask for a deposit.
We feel that it is a conflict of interest to purchase items from our clients and re-sell them for our own profit. We also feel that taking items on consignment could make it easier for us not to sell items during an estate sale. Because this is our only opportunity to sell your items, our only goal is to sell as many of your items on the day of the sale as possible while maximizing your profit. In other words, we work solely for you.
But remember, we will not leave you high and dry. If you wish and if time restraints allow, we will keep working to sell your items even after the final estate sale date.
One of the most important things you can do before your estate sale is to sort through your items and determine what you are going to keep. If there are multiple parties involved, we ask that they remove anything they wish to keep BEFORE we do a walk-through in order to allow us to accurately gauge the value of the sale and amount of work to be done. Items that are not being sold should be removed from the premises and/or ‘not for sale’ should be clearly marked and ideally moved to an off-limits “safe” room before staging.
Do NOT throw anything away. Remember “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” People frequently come to sales looking for things homeowners consider to have little value, like household cleaners, VHS tapes, food, paper napkins and used clothing.
We cannot sell anything illegally obtained or that has a lien placed on it.
We work hard to determine fair market value for your items based on experience from past sales as well as research of recent sold prices at auctions and through online databases. When an item is unfamiliar to us or requires specialized knowledge, we seek out advice from our network of local experts.
During the estate sale, you can sit back and relax. All we ask is that you be available by phone, so that we can contact you with offers on items with reserved prices. We strongly recommend homeowners not attend the sale. Seeing people discuss the value of and negotiate for items that have meaning to you can be stressful and it is often difficult to sell items to which you have an emotional attachment. In addition, it can make some buyers uncomfortable to see the homeowner there.
While we will tidy up areas, we do not dispose of unsold items. However, unsold items may be suitable for consignment or donation. We will be happy to discuss your options and make suggestions to you. The house will be left in “broom clean” condition.
Attending an Estate Sale
Pictures and descriptions are posted on our website on the Upcoming Sales page. You can also sign up for our email list and receive weekly emails with details for upcoming sales. Click the link to sign up for our email sale bulletins.
In order to be fair to all our customers, We NEVER sell items ahead of the sale date. While we understand that it is sometimes difficult for people to attend sales because of distance, work commitments or other reasons, we feel that it would be unfair to those who do come to the sale to sell advertised items ahead of time. If you cannot make it to the sale, consider asking a friend or family member to go on your behalf.
An estate sale is not an auction. Items are thoroughly researched and priced ahead of time. If you wish to purchase something, a sales associate will write a description and price for you, which you then take to the cashier to pay. You are welcome and encouraged to bring bags, boxes and packing materials to carry your purchases.
Unsold items remain in the custody of their original owner. Many homeowners choose to donate unsold items or sell them through a consignment shop or auction, while others will keep them, give them to family and friends or throw them away. In order to respect the confidentiality of our clients, we will not comment on specific cases.
REMEMBER!!! Bargaining and negotiating a deal is part of the fun of estate sales and is absolutely expected.
If you find something you like, but it’s a little out of your price range, it never hurts to ask. Keep in mind that prices will be very firm at the beginning of a sale, but there may be more room for negotiation towards the end. It also helps to have reasonable expectations. No estate sale company will sell you an item marked $100 if you offer $5 – they probably won’t even give you a counter offer. However, if you offer $70, they may be more likely to accept your offer or meet you halfway. If your offer is turned down, don’t take it personally. Remember, the sales associates are working for the homeowner and have to follow their guidelines about minimum prices they’ll accept.
If you are buying a large item, we will be happy to help you get it loaded into your vehicle. From there, you are on your own! We also are associated with a group of highly experienced movers who will move your items at your expense. These negotiations are between you and the mover. Please note that in many condos and apartments, large items can not be moved on weekends.
It is very important to us to respect the confidentiality of our clients and we will never reveal the details of a specific sale. However, we find that 80% or more of the sales we organize are the result of a move, retirement or downsizing.