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How Estate Sales Work: What You Need to Know

many estates in rows with trees

“Estate sale this Saturday. Everything must go!” We have all seen the signs on street corners. We’ve all read about them in the paper or heard about them through the grapevine. But what are they? And how do you go to one? We get it. It can be confusing. Keep reading to learn how estate sales work and everything you need to know about them.

What Are They?

At Yard o understand how estate sales work, we should first understand what exactly they are. At a first glance, estate sales might sound pompous, like something for only the most upper-crust class of people. But that is not the case! If you’ve heard the term “yard sale,” they are commonly interchangeable. An estate sale, however, is when the seller, or the company hired to do the selling, opens up the home itself to the public to sell off the belongings.

This is different than your average garage sale. Instead of arranging the items like furniture, toys, electronics, etc. on the front lawn or in a garage, estate sale etiquette dictates that buyers are invited to come inside the house to browse and shop.

This gives the buyer an interesting advantage: to see the object in its appropriate space, functioning as it would in their own home. This is how estate sales work and most sellers are accommodating, as the goal of estate sales is to sell off the items as quickly as possible.

Why Do We Have Them?

Estate sales are held for a number of reasons, most commonly unfortunate ones at that. Usually the reasons include death of the owner, the desire to downsize – either from physical need or debt, the separation of a married couple, and so on. Whatever the reason, the need is to sell the items quickly.

How do estate sales work in the case of death? It becomes much more complicated, and tragic. There are several things to consider in this instance. To start, there might be a will involved that insists certain items be treated in one way or another. Or perhaps the recipients of these items cannot keep them for the sake of space. The goal of an estate sale would be to avoid the need for a court to determine what should happen to these items.

How Do They Work?

keys hanging from door

How estate sales work in several ways. The owners of the estate can choose to run the sale themselves. This requires a lot of planning, organization, and focus – three things that people in the midst of grief are generally not well-suited for.

In that case, a professional, or a liquidator, may be hired to conduct the estate sale for them. There are drawbacks to this approach, however, such as the owners needing to compensate the liquidator. More than likely, this is a costly process. Also, city laws will need to be checked to ensure proper permits are obtained. But a liquidator can set up how the estate sale will work, the timing, advertising, organizational flow of the event, and so on. They will take the stress out of the already stressful, and emotional process.

What Do the Buyers Do?

old fashioned living room

In the instance of an estate sale, there are actually certain procedures for the buyers to keep in mind. Proper estate sale etiquette generally has an admittance procedure and an order to the day. This is usually done by handing out slips of paper with numbers on them to whomever has congregated at the estate prior to opening.

As it is time for each person, the liquidator and moderator in this case, will call the appropriate numbers and allow a certain number of people inside. This method is by far the easiest to make an estate sale work, and least likely to be abused. There are other methods that are riskier, like announcing “street numbers,” which then need to be exchanged for actual entry, or a regular sign-up sheet outside of the house. All of these options are viable, but difficult to control.

Once the buyers are inside, they can peruse the house and select the particular items they desire. Buyers are more likely to find expensive or rare pieces in estate sales than garage sales because these are items that the seller did not necessarily want to sell. In fact, some things are more likely to be heirlooms or treasured gifts that are generations old.

Now You Know

Estate sales are unusual ventures – often difficult for the sellers and confusing for the buyers. But with a bit of basic knowledge and understanding, it can be easy to navigate how estate sales work and proper estate sale etiquette. When an estate sale is posted, make sure to do plenty of research on place, timing, and admittance. Upon arrival, it’s important to remain respectful and aware, as the sale is most likely very emotional for the sellers.

While estate sales are a unique approach to selling off belongings, they can truly be amazing events: highly profitable and easy for buyers. Find one and try it for yourself! Contact Yard Sale Radar, for help with your sale today.