When it comes to the outlay of money, everyone wants the best deal they can find. That’s just good business sense.  It stops making sense when people make quick decisions to go with the “cheapest” because it can often backfire costing much more to correct the situation, if the situation is even correctable. 

Hiring the right professional estate liquidator is of vital importance. The emphasis in this article is on the word professional.  This estate sale professional is someone who has dedicated much time, care, concern, diligence, devotion, education, research, (plus so much more) into the skills required to conduct a successful estate sale for their clients. 

This professional works countless hours and endures many sleepless nights, constantly learning and navigating an ever-changing industry and dealing with an increasingly difficult public of buyers.   

Conducting an estate sale is not just about organizing and displaying, nor is it as easy as it appears.  It requires patience, due diligence, long hours of research, outstanding customer relations skills, knowing the right resources, and the ability to wear many different hats on any given day.  True professionals do it well and make it look easy, even though it is actually very challenging.  Therein lies the mark of a true professional.

Estate Sale Professionals earn their commission because they take the time to understand the personal property and maximize the sale proceeds by implementing a methodical plan to succeed for the client. 

Knowing this, why would anyone select an estate sale company that undercuts or offers a low-ball commission without understanding all the details of the estate?

This industry is inundated with pop-up or fly-by-night companies that appear out of nowhere.  While there are exceptions to every rule, we often see the following:

Many of them have little to no industry training, skills, or understanding the scope of work that lies ahead of them.
They know little about today’s changing market and what items will sell for.
They often sell at very low prices and then disappear. 
Some don’t even price items or research the value of higher-end pieces to maximize the sale price for the client.
Sometimes they leave behind a mess for the client to handle.
The sale proceeds are often quite low, because they didn’t make the effort to make the sale as successful as possible.
They may not pay the client in a pre-determined time frame or offer any accounting of what was sold.
To get the contract signed quickly, they offer a low commission claiming they will do the same things as a professional estate sale company.

Clients need to know a few things before they decide which estate sale company is the right one to hire. 

Please do not hire a company based on commission alone. Find out what the commission includes, what services are offered, research the company, and make your decision based on sound information and facts.

The old saying, “you get what you pay for” is often true.  If a company is charging 15%-20% when the national average is 35%-45% (depending on geographical region), one must ask how they can afford the proper resources to conduct a professional sale.

Will they:

Have enough staff to organize, display, clean out and secure?
Watch the crowd and have the ability to eliminate/minimize theft?
Advertise to attract the right kind of buyers to the sale?
Take the time to research and arrive at appropriate pricing?
Utilize proper signage and post policies and procedures?
Use the power of social media?

Lower commission can also mean lower effort.  What normally suffers is quality.

Quality of service and care
Quality of research
Quality in diligent preparation

These qualities are the attributes of a professional.

Pop-up companies may leave the un-sold remainder for the client to contend with.  By then, contacting a professional is too late as the damage is done. The best items will have been sold and the sale proceeds were not maximized.

These companies may offer a low commission but there could be many more individual service charges that add up to more than the professional’s original (higher) commission.  The client should have a clear understanding of what the commission includes and what other fees will be involved before signing a contract.

Research the estate sale companies being interviewed. 

Do they have a good reputation? Is the company licensed to conduct business?  Are they insured?  Make sure they exist as a genuine company.

  The estate sale contract should have a clause that determines how proceeds from the estate sale will be paid to the client and in what time frame the proceeds will be received.  Both the client and the estate sale professional should review the contract to ensure all questions or concerns are addressed prior to signing.

Julie Hall, Director of ASEL
The American Society of Estate Liquidators, LLC

©2020 The American Society of Estate Liquidators® LLC.  All rights reserved.  None of this article may be reproduced, copied or distributed in any form, in whole or part, without attribution and the permission of ASEL®.  

Why Choosing an Estate Sale Company Based on a Low Commission Can Cost a Fortune