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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

How to Have an Estate Sale

POSTED ON: July 19, 2022

Estate sale

When a loved one dies or goes into a nursing home, there’s often a home that remains filled with items collected during their lifetime. US News & World Report’s article Estate Sales for Beginners provides insightful information about conducting an estate sale.

An estate sale is held to sell the contents of a home. It’s a great solution when you have a house filled with possessions that have some value. The proceeds of the sale get added to the value of the estate.

Here’s some guidance:

Give Yourself Time to Prepare

Going through your loved one’s house is an emotional experience. Take your time and ask for help from family or friends if you need it. Make sure family members get a chance to keep items that are important to them. Share with them your plans for clearing out the house and having an estate sale. Getting them on board with your plan will help keep the peace. At times like this, some families find themselves fighting over an estate; something you’ll likely want to avoid. If there are a lot of possessions left in the house that have value, the next step is to figure out what to do with them.

Throw Away Worthless Things

Some items may have absolutely no value like magazines, newspapers, and broken furniture, so they can be thrown out. Having a dumpster situated on the property comes in handy if there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be discarded.

Donate or Give Away Objects

If the person who died had a caregiver or friendly neighbor who spent a lot of time with them and helped them continue to live at home, you may want to consider giving those people some belongings. You can also donate to a charity that will pick up the items.

Decide If You Want to Hire a Professional for Your Estate Sale

Organizing the items and running the sale yourself will take a lot of your time. Professional estate sale services will make it easier on you, but they will likely take a significant commission like 30% to 45% of the sales gross profits.

Think About Selling Some Stuff Yourself

If there are some valuable items, you may choose to avoid the estate sale service commission and sell the items yourself. This puts you in control of negotiating the prices with the buyers. For example, if there is an expensive set of china, you could sell it on an online marketplace like eBay, a local auction, or find a local consignment shop.

Create a Professional Estate Sale

Do advertising to drive people to the event. Mention the really interesting items that will be for sale like vintage jewelry, a newer lounge chair, or collectibles like sports cards. Have music playing in the background to create a pleasant atmosphere encouraging potential buyers to stay longer and thoroughly look through all the items. Keep in mind that the goal is to sell, so be open to negotiating prices and giving discounts when they buy several items at one time.

An estate sale can take one to two days. By the second half of day two, you should try to lower the prices to make sure you sell as much as you can.