The Witch of Pikesville… She Can Turn $6000 into $20000 of Used Stuff!

We met with a woman this week, after a lengthy phone consultation, after I had qualified her and she had qualified Estatemax as the likely company to hire.

Later, upon looking at her address on Google, after agreeing to go to her home to sign an agreement and set a date for a sale, I discovered she lived in a townhome community where NO PARKING was written on every curb, meaning there was no place for estate sale shoppers to park.  I called her and her phone was not taking calls so I emailed her canceling the appointment until she could work it out with the HOA to allow parking, or not.

She called me really demanding that we come because she had changed her entire day of plans to meet us. And, of course she is on the board of the HOA and they don’t pay any attention to those NO PARKING signs. Her estate sale would work. There would be ample parking. So we went.

We met her. She showed us around the house, in detail, and with great neurosis. It was normal, clean, brown furniture, nothing “valuable” and not a lot of items. Pretty but dated furniture and no kitchen or significant small items. No basement or garage or shed. It was a small inventory, mostly furniture, Waterford, Lenox. Ad nauseum.

I should have stopped it there, sat down and signed the deal. It would have saved me the next hour of B.S.  (It frankly doesn’t matter what she had to sell. We sell it all, whatever is left in the home.) We have a minimum fee to cover that, in case a customer removes more than they said they would at our consultation.

I asked her if she had educated herself, as I had asked her to do by reading my website, She admitted she had not- nor read our reviews. My website is a bible of how to and how not to do a downsizing, an estate sale, etc. It is packed full of information. She could have saved herself and us a lot of grief.  And she said my Angie’s List Reviews don’t matter to her. She doesn’t “believe” in Angie’s List. ( Tell Angie Hicks that who has made millions…)

I told her it matters to me and we work very hard for the clients that leave reviews of our services there. She said she “heard she could be sued for leaving a negative review there” and had hired someone off it before and he did a lousy job for her. I told her that was not me and she can’t judge everyone by one jerk. ETC. I told her she had not done her due diligence and asked her what criteria she was using to hire us? She had found me on ASEL. American Society of Estate Liquidators. EstateMAX is an accredited member. That does matter, but not as much as reviews.  ASEL is a marketing venue. I am vetted through them, but I am also vetted on A.L, the State of MD, and have advertised on many sites for 10 years.

She said “Well now that you have looked around what do you think you could get for all of this?” I told her I don’t know and I don’t promise a number. We had only done a quick walk thru -but it was definitely a sale and she would make money.  She pressed me. I said,” between $6000 and $8000 for a house of this size.” That is what I always say for a house of that size, regardless of contents. And the silver and crystal, etc was hidden.  She shrieked ” NO! I would expect between $20,000 and $30,000! I told her there was no way the sales would get anywhere close to those numbers…( where were the 200$1000 resale items in that townhome? Or the 10) $2000 items, or the 40) $500 items. or the 20,000) $1 items?  OYVEY!)

She had already talked to an auction company, she had been set straight on what she should expect from them ( $1 to $10 an item) and the cost of removal would be more than my fee. We were her best bet to get the job done.

Anyhow, we read through the contract together, in detail, which most clients don’t bother doing, they just go for it, which upsets me, so I was happy she was doing that. We made some adjustments and got to the money part and she started: Well, I’ll pay you this and not that and this much and that. I will not pay you a fee but will give you a 60/40 split of the sale. I said “No, that won’t happen, I don’t work that way, and it’s not worth my time.” You don’t have enough here to make it worth my committing myself to advertising, setup, pricing for 2 days and conducting a 3 day sale. And a 3 day sale is what you need to get this stuff out of here. I can get the people here but I can’t make them buy if they don’t want what you have”.  “I am not taking a risk for you. It’s your stuff, you have used it, lived with it, and it’s your burden, not mine.”

So, we walked without a deal. The first time in my career that happened. But some deals aren’t worth the trouble and she was trouble through and through. Unrealistic, over expecting, demanding and a manipulator. Glad I have the experience to know the difference.

 

What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?

What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?
First of all, I’m going to go with the idea that if you are reading this you are on track to hire a professional to assist you in your downsizing process and personal property sale…So, before you trust in that someone, ask yourself this:

What is your time and energy worth? What are your expectations? What criteria are you using to determine how to make your decisions, and are your capable of doing it alone? What is “Value” to you?

EstateMAX is a 20 year veteran Service Provider that handles all of the facets our clients need to transition from the old to the new!

Our valuable project management comes into play for full transitions, move management, downsizing and estate and downsizing sales, with follow up property clean up.

During the estate and downsizing sale, we do everything needed to promote, merchandise and sell used personal property to “minimize the stress and maximize the returns” for our clients. An EstateMAX copyrighted slogan from 2015, often copied by our competition. Before, we help you downsize, pack, move, set up in your new home and can help you sell your property through our professional relationships.

Individual or our full menu of services,  can be employed on contract to meet the needs of  individual projects.

Those steps include:

For Downsizing & Moving Projects: 

  • Downsizing the Home with the Client, Packing and Organizing for Move Out
  • Personalized Move Management-Step by Step
  • Moving Services, Recommendations on Moving Companies
  • Property Clean Up
  • Organization and Merchandising the Home

For Staging and/or Sale Event

  • Photography, Videography for Advertising
  • Advertising On Line and In Print
  • Conducting the Estate or Downsizing Sale
  • Cleaning up Following the Sale
  • Donating to Charity
  • Shipping to Family or Friends, if needed
  • Statement of Sales/Expenses

Additional Professional Services

  • Full House Cleaning and Specialty Property Services
  • Moving Services
  • Real Estate Services

The Value of “Stuff”

I’ve had clients compare what they paid for their furniture, 10 to 40 years ago, to the prices we negotiate for it today.

Presently, we do NOT buy outright, and we do NOT take items out of your house to sell them for you. We are not a method to supplement your income. Anyone who says they can promise you a profit over your original cost on your household goods is not being honest. Turning stuff into cash can be a disappointment. Be realistic.

Estate Sellers not retailers of used goods. We provide “liquidation” services and we do it en masse, in your home, after you have removed what you want to keep, or hired us to help you do so and move into your new home.

What this means is that your $5000 typical dining room set bought 12 years ago will probably be sold for between $1500 and $500, depending on condition, style, market demand, time of year, advertising coverage and buyers inclinations. We sell everything we can possibly sell in your home the same way. It all adds up. Our job is to handle all of that so you can go forward.  The overall return on the project is where the difference shows up.

So Why Have an On-site Estate Sale?

Because the buying public likes to shop in person, in the home, regardless of Covid 19. We have hundreds of shoppers at most of our sales. We take all needed precautions. (Our production fell approximately 40% in 2020 but so far in 2021 we have produced 10 sales in 4 month, yielding almost $200,000 of revenue for our clients!) Context is important. How the items look in place, were used, give the buyer an understanding of their vintage and quality and the care the original owners gave to their furnishings and decor. Selling the volume of the little stuff; the nuts and bolts, the linens, the garage and shed items, clothing, pantry items, along with the furniture and decor is possible in the context of the home, not through on line auction.

Bottom line- there is a volume of used personal property on the market  because of the aging of Americans.

Estate sellers compete with Goodwill and other charities for the same public dollars. We present the goods in the best possible way, merchandised on our own table tops, taken out of cabinets, pulled out of closets and unpacked out of boxes. What is not sold on site, is then donated to these charities so our pricing has to be sharp to sell it in the home. Online sales venues like Facebook Marketplace and Letgo, etc have sullied the class that “estate sales” used to enjoy.

Furniture and other consumer property is “commodity.”

The loss of retail value on new furniture, just like vehicles, which we also sell, happens relatively quickly.  We explain up front where the bottom line is on the return value of used furniture. If it’s collectible, rare, and in style, which makes it of true interest to the buying public, the value is higher. Such defines less than the 30% of goods in a home, typically. The 70% of the return is in the cumulative sale of all things in a household, and the time and labor savings and stress reduction recognized pays for our services.

We ask our clients for a positive review following our work for them. Our results are not only measurable only in dollars and cents, they are in attention to detail, getting the job completed and ready for settlement, on time without hassles. We are not an “auction house” We are a services company. If our clients can’t leave us a positive review, we know that the questions I posed above have not been clarified in advance of our work for them and I take that personally.

EstateMAX handles the details for you, efficiently and honestly. Call Laurie Zook today for a NO-Cost Consultation.

before final clean up hoarders estate sale

After final clean up, same area.

Downsizing & Selling Your Stuff? Minimize Your Expectations & Maximize Your Planning!

To Boomers and Seniors or Estates considering downsizing and why and how to sell their stuff by any method- Auction, Online Auction or Onsite Estate Sale-


The Reality of Stuff

All estate sale companies do the pretty much the same thing-

We all sell as much as we can over the period of the estate sale for the highest possible return. The more we sell, the more income for the client and for us!

The key word here is “possible”. It’s relative to conditions.

EstateMAX’s goal is to clear the house, but realistically that rarely happens. We sell between 70% to 85% of contents. 

(After the sale what do we do with “what doesn’t sell?” No, I don’t burn it in the back yard…I like to tease customers when asked. The balance goes to charity or auction, but only IF the auctioneer wants it, and most don’t want the dregs of a household.)

How do we get the buyers into our sales?

EstateMAX uses progressive social media cross marketing techniques, bringing in hundreds of potential buyers over a 3 day sale. We produce You Tube videos and ongoing live videos on Facebook during the sale. We use every “ticket in the book” to market your sale. The competition for used stuff is fierce!

Under normal conditions, it’s a busy estate sale market. On any (pre-Covid) weekend you could count on 30 to 60 estate sales in the DC Metro area.

Most of it is now sold online, and that does not empty a household.

Online agents “cherry-pick” the home and sell the stuff that is going to bring the money. The tough-to-sell furniture ( it takes a sales person to move it out!), clothes, screws, bolts, garbage bags, cleaning products, linens, volumes of books, household and junk, and who knows what- are left behind for the homeowner to deal with. Charity does not pick up with less than a 8 week schedule and worse, during Covid times. So, what’s the value in hiring EstateMAX? What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?

(EstateMAX has continued to perform our job onsite during this pandemic following State Realtor Regulations and we perform a full sale over 3 days and a complete clean out afterward making the home ready for settlement or improvement.)

We set realistic starting prices and discount over the course of the sale, and negotiate ongoing on larger purchases. We take bids on the big stuff and the highest prices offered at the end of the day Sunday. We run 3 day sales, typically 8 hour days, depending on location and inventory. Auctioneers start at a buck for online and off site auctions, typically. It doesn’t matter what is being sold if it’s typical household goods and used furniture. 

We MAX out the sales hours and sale possibilities!

So, Potential Sellers Should Consider these Points When Considering Hiring a Company to “Sell Your Stuff”:

  • You have lived with the items for a while. How long-doesn’t really matter when selling your “stuff”.  It is all “used merchandise”- to the buying public. These Items have served their purpose, and made your life better  over the days past. Now the time has come when you don’t need them. For whatever reason- they don’t serve your purposes, are worn out, the style is no longer what you like, etc.
You are moving on! So let go of the stuff and the expectation!
  • Your emotional attachment and opinion about your stuff doesn’t matter anymore… What matters is what the potential buyer thinks.
  • We are talking about used furniture and personal property of all types. It’s intrinsic market value is from 10 cents to 25 cents of the original dollar. Yes, there are exceptions.  If you are the lucky owner of rare, hard to find, specialty collectibles, coins, precious metals, certain antiques, antiquities, certain vehicles, machinery it can be a seller’s market on those items. ( In 21 years of conducting estate sales I have only run into rarities a few times.) Most people’s homes are duplicates of one another, with differences in color, pattern, furniture style, perhaps, but still- what people have been living with for 30 to 40 years has been dictated by furniture manufacturers and designers of the era. Cookie cutter environments, for the most part.
Stuff is expensive to move and moving is stressful.
  • From Maryland to Florida, for instance- figure a 26 foot truck load is from $5600- up. It’s based on weight and distance and that does not include packing fees, boxes, paper and saran wrap used to cover furniture is several thousand more. Moving is a small fortune. It’s usually fiscally beneficial to disburse of the stuff locally, and buy good, used or new in Florida. You can buy it there for 25 to 50 cents on the dollar. Used stuff is cheap to replace, even the good stuff!
Hire EstateMAX, a reputable company, make a small investment in quality service and reap the financial and stress- free benefits of selling and donating the stuff you no longer want or need.
  • What you think is pretty, useful, cool, valuable, special or handy, is subjective. Estate sale shoppers  might not be as awestruck by it. (Your custom, large floral print valances and Ethan Allen brass and glass coffee table with the Ionic column pilaster legs and the French Provincial armoire were your taste, in the 90’s. Sure they look like-new and have barely been used, but it takes a special someone to walk in the door of your estate sale who will have that similar sense of style and a place to use them, and a few thousand dollars to dole out the weekend of the sale.
The world is innundated with used brand-name and older furniture.
  • Baby Boomers are retiring by the thousands daily and moving out of their homes, leaving the stuff behind they don’t want. The smart ones “get it” that it’s all used, out of style, worn out or somewhat worn out, stuff.
  • Expect a sell through of 70% to 85%, more or less, if your style is “in-style” or vintage, collectible, and the quality is great, and your house is full of small, useful objects and affordable pieces. Highly stylized furniture takes a specific buyer.
  • Be prepared. Get packed up with the stuff you are keeping (30% of a household is typical when downsizing ) and allow your seller enough time to advertise effectively, saturate the market with information, and set up and conduct the sale.
To Make it Easy on Yourself, Start your downsizing 6 months in advance of your move. EstateMAX can help.
  • Hire EstateMAX a minimum of 6 weeks prior to your move out date. Give us time to advertise and get the word out for the best result! We need two weeks prior to your sale for initial pictures and ten days for proper setup, sale and clean up,- that’s a smaller home. Larger homes should have 5 to 7 sale days to maximize results and minimize unsold merchandise.

Expect the best of your estate sale professional- The EstateMAX team is a pro-active, problem-solver, ready to step in and handle personal property disbursements resulting from divorce, old age, suicide, death of elderly, and downsizing transitions.


“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations” 

 

― Jodi Picoult

A Hoarders house, after the sale. This is the stuff that is left after the crowds bought what they wanted. It gets sorted, goes to charity, trash and recycling.

A table top view of a set up ready for the sale in a condo. A real collector.

Downsizing, Do it or Die Trying!

Seniors and Boomers downsizing takes time. It’s not an overnight process. Unless you don’t-and it is!

I’ve heard seniors say (bragging…) that ” They’re just going to leave it all for their kids to handle after they’re gone.” Why, I ask myself, would any parent dump a houseful of stuff, junk, belonging, personal property, things that their kids don’t want, on the people they say they love the most?!

Sifting and sorting stuff, packing, assembling, dis-assembling, giving it away, deciding what to keep-all in the perspective of a big and maybe next to final life transition.

Suggestions from me, a transitions pro with 20 years of experience working with people just like you:

Give yourself a deadline and work in reverse. Mark the tentative exit date from your property on a calendar and break down the project room by room, then start working.

Buy boxes and tape

Buy green painters tape and mark all of the big stuff you think you want to take with you. Leave the other stuff unmarked.

Write an inventory list of those items, go around again in a few days, and make adjustments twice, maybe three times.

Leave 70%, take 30%. Donations are in the Leave Pile. Those get disbursed later, not now.

Start packing. Closets, dressers, linens, kitchen, etc. Be tough.

If you are told by a real estate agent to downsize so they can list the house, do it this way:

Pack the stuff you are taking as you were doing and leave the rest for a second packing. Impose upon the realtor to come in and mark the things he or she wants you to leave in the home for showing, then pack the things not to be left out. Use BLUE painters tape. Stash those boxes in the garage separate from the ones you are taking. Better yet, if the timing works rent a transportable container for the move pile. Pod.com, etc.

If it’s all too much, hire a transitions manager to work with you, to get you started and set up a plan or work with you weekly providing common sense and labor. EstateMAX can help.

When the house is finally stripped of everything other than those items that accentuate the architecture and interior features and furniture rearranged with some accessorizing ( called Staging) your realtor will have it on the market and it will be sold before you know it. If you don’t have to jump through hoops to sell it, the downsizing will be done and it will be time for you to move and an estate sale company to come in and liquidate and donate what you have left behind. Again, EstateMAX can help.

In 10 days from start to finish EstateMAXOPS.com will set up, sell, and pay you your sale proceeds.

Call Laurie Zook today for a no cost phone consultation. 301-332-5585

 

Integrity Notice: CAVEAT EMPTOR When Hiring Estate Sale and Auctioneers

INTEGRITY NOTICE: State of Maryland has no licensing requirements for auctioneers or estate sale companies!

The industry is becoming a playground for the inexperienced, unincorporated, uninsured newbie (sometimes criminal), individuals and unestablished small businesses looking for a “fun” income, “digging through” houses, and running weekend “yard sales”. (The results reflect the same.) These are the people handling your assets!

In turn, the State ( and Montgomery County, MD has instituted rigorous legislation that enforces sales of second hand goods of many types: Electronics, Jewelry, Furs, Fine Art, etc.

Your estate sale company is required to be registered with the State Police and report any item in a Maryland home that is up for sale that falls under these categories or risk prosecution.

(Just what small business doesn’t need, more regulation but…) Because of a few criminals and too many operators with low standards, we all pay the price.) 

On the contrary, EstateMAX is registered, fingerprinted, taxpaying and reporting. With 21 years in this business, in the Washington DC Metro, we are a known entity. Check our Angie’s List Reviews!