How Do Estate Sales Work?

How Do Estate Sales Work?

Do you have any unused items at home that you want to get rid of? A garage sale is the most common solution for anyone wanting to declutter and make money at the same time. However, an estate sale is much different because it involves getting rid of all the items of an entire house. It’s an overwhelming process, especially when there is plenty of items involved. Use this guide to help you organize an estate sale and get some tips on making the most of it. 

What is an Estate Sale?

An estate sale is when you dispose of the items of a whole house but in a more organized fashion than your typical yard sale. Estate sales are mainly held when a family member dies. It literally means selling someone’s entire estate. Therefore, all the items in the house that the person has left behind will be up for sale. The family might choose to keep a few items, especially the ones that have sentimental value to the family or that person. 

An estate sale also happens when someone goes bankrupt or is going through a divorce. In most cases, someone who is planning a long-distance move will sell most of their items. The items that are for sale will be marked with a price tag. However, it may be possible to bargain for lower prices on most items. 

The money that you earn from the estate sale can be used to pay off debts or kept for personal use. It depends on the intention of the one who conducts the estate sale.  

income generated from an estate sale

How Does an Estate Sale Work?

During an estate sale, the public is invited into the personal property of those conducting the sale. The public is open to looking around for items that they may be interested in buying. 

You can hold an estate sale with or without an estate sale organizer. If you choose to work with an estate sale organizer, they will separate items into categories. They will appraise the items based on their market value and the condition of the item. Once the items are organized, the estate sale organizer will open the event to the public.

If the estate sale attracts a huge crowd, the organizer can use a number system for receiving the public or employ a first come first served basis. Once the buyers are given access to someone’s property, they can freely walk around and inspect the items until they find something they want to buy. The buyer will pay for those items on their way out. 

The estate sale organizer determines the method of payment accepted for the estate sale. Most estate sales only accept cash but accepting cashless payments, such as credit cards, enables the sale of higher-end items like furniture. 

For large-scale estate sales, a liquidator is available on-site to manage the flow of buyers and resolve pricing issues. The policies on having family members present during the estate sale vary according to the estate liquidator contract. 

Planning an Estate Sale

Planning an estate sale is crucial for a successful event. It's important to consider whether you plan on hiring an estate sale organizer. Most people do opt to hire an organizer because an estate sale entails time and work. 

Among the top priorities when planning an estate sale are the following:

  • Create an inventory of the items in the house that you want to sell.
  • Figure out which items should be sold and which ones you want to keep.
  • Price the items and mark them one by one. 
  • Set up the items to make them easy for buyers to see and choose what they want.
  • Manage the traffic flow of buyers during the day of the estate sale.
  • Keep an eye on buyers to ensure the safety of the items. 

If there are any leftover items from the estate sale and you want to get rid of them, you can donate them to a charity. Charities can pick up those items for you and they can manage their sale.

hiring an estate sale organizer


How Much Do Most Estate Sales Make?

The income generated from an estate sale varies from one sale event to another. It also varies from region to region. A 2019 industry survey on estate sales revealed that the average gross sales for most estate sales are more than $18,000. 

Keep in mind that the above data is only an estimate. The actual sales will vary between estate sale events with some generating more money with others generating much less. Several variables come into play in determining the actual sales income. 

What is the Best Month to Have an Estate Sale?

Experts agree that winter is the best time to hold an estate sale. It might seem counterintuitive but there are several reasons why you can get more shoppers during this time of the year.

The first reason to hold an estate sale in the winter is there is less competition during this time of the year. Yard sales are traditionally held in the spring and summer months. Therefore, it will be more challenging for you to attract buyers to your estate sale since they have more options.

The winter months coincide with the holiday season. The holiday spirit inspires shoppers to buy more and to look for deals on gifts. Many shoppers also get bonuses during the winter months, which they use to splurge on gifts for their loved ones and themselves. 

In addition, some shoppers save up for their year-end shopping spree. Holding your estate sale in the winter allows you to target better buyers looking for high-quality and more expensive items. Most shoppers looking for deals would not mind going out in the snow as long as they can save on the items.

A successful estate sale can happen at any time of the year. Planning is crucial to attract more buyers and generate a higher income from the sale event. 

Why Work with an Estate Sales Organizer?

If you want to have a successful estate sales event, you need a professional team to organize it for you. There are several steps to take care of to ensure that the sale event goes smoothly. Without professional expertise and experience, you could lose track of essential steps or become easily overwhelmed. 

However, not all estate sales organizers are made equal. You want to work with a company that specializes in estate sales so they can preside over the planning process and in overseeing the actual sales event. In addition, choose a company that offers creative ideas to advertise your estate sales to attract as many buyers as possible. If you are going to hold the sales event for only a few days, you want to attract more buyers to help sell as many items as you can. 

The best estate sale companies are transparent and do a great job at communicating with you on the progress of the preparation and the ongoing sales. While you might need to invest in hiring their services, that investment could pay off if it means less stress and more sales from the event.