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.

 

Would You Buy Your Mother’s Dirty Old Sofa! And Please leave the Steinway!

As an estate sale sales agent/organizer/conductor I have seen a lot of stuff in 21 years! Most of my clients have left behind very nice to marginal personal property, both downsizers and estates but there have been those who have been completely wrong in their expectations of what an estate sale can sell.

For instance, the sisters we interviewed with, in Gaithersburg, who talked a good story. We arrived at the house to find 80% trash and 10% marginally saleable items and 10% collectibles and saleables. We spent a Sunday afternoon going to this meeting- which is precious time.

I gave them a game plan: I told them the first thing they could do is to get a dumpster in the front yard.

I would be happy to do a pre estate sale clean out, because all of the upholstered furniture in the house was dirty and non saleable, the basement was full of junk, not cool stuff, and none of it was donatable. Likewise the mattresses and box springs, ugly old area rugs, pillows and the like. Their mom’s ” precious” china was standard fare, not collectible, and not worth more on the estate sale market than $50. But it was saleable. They were appalled to hear this and argued with me. I suggested they do a weekend sale themselves and see what was left. 

The condition of the property in this house is not usually the case with our clients. But this parent(s) had never made improvements, were heavy smokers and as we all eventually do, got old and overwhelmed. ( Those who can avoid the overwhelm by planning ahead and doing a downsizing sale will live longer…)

In the corner was a Steinway studio grand piano. I told the daughter that I could definitely sell that for her and that would more than make up for any “financial” loss they might feel for the tossing out of the 60 year old sofa.

She declined, saying that was her piano and she was keeping it. She was just the type of personality who loved telling me she was keeping the piano, after introducing me to a house of trash. Outside was a brand new cobalt blue Cadillac. 

The bottom line is: if your house is full of trash, admit it. Do not expect anyone to make silk out of a sow’s ear, so to speak.

No one wants your mother’s dirty, nasty sofa. We do want the Steinway so leave it and share the proceeds with your siblings.

EstateMAX manages full estates, including trash outs. Leave it up to us to project manage, organize, advertise, sell, deliver, trash out before and afterwards and pay you if there is anything left from the proceeds. It’s a thin line between what is saleable and what isn’t. We know.

If you have questions as to what is trash before the sale, google Goodwill Industries and get a list of what they will not accept as donations. The cost to pay us to sort and organize an estate sale out of a house of marginal items, might or might not pay off.

But we sort the wheat from the chaff, display it, price it and sell it, then trash and recycle. For this type of inventory, the money made offsets the cost of an estate clean out and usually reaps a profit. 

If you have a house full of brand, cleaner, nice quality, interesting, collectible, used and decent stuff, THAT is an estate sale. But the best way to know is to call me and discuss your project. I offer a no cost phone interview. And I will ask you to send photos.

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.

The Stuff Left After the Stuff That Sold!

There is always that person at an estate sale who asks ” What do you do with the stuff that’s left after the sale is over?!” (Because there always IS stuff left over, regardless of how large or small the inventory.) Sarcasm, my closest friend, overwhelms my good manners, and I retort” I burn it all in the back yard!”. All the stuff never sells.

We are just completing clean up of an estate sale that we held last weekend. The sale setup included removal of 20 cubic yards of trash, just to get to the stuff that was salable and accommodate it’s setup and shop-ability…And this household had record mounds of stuff to begin with.

We sold an unprecedented volume of stuff over 3 days which left the dregs of unsold stuff behind, in piles.  Piles- because estate sale shoppers are not concerned with neatness, when sifting and picking through inventory, looking for the next “great find”. It looked like a cyclone had gone through the house.

This leftover stuff includes empty cardboard boxes from a myriad of items, including a closet of dust and cardboard scraps left from the sale of  vintage board games, a lawn mower,  old, out of style furniture, Xmas decor, Easter decor, Halloween decor, etc., cleaning supplies, a seashell collection, scraps of stained glass, jars, dried stuff, craft supplies, fabrics, sewing magazines, books, books, books, framed artwork, a daisy art collection, personal care items, shoes, clothes, a bed, a deep freeze full of old food, a Wurlitzer piano, weight bench, scraps of vintage toys, burnt out power tools, dusty fake floral arrangements, an unexplored attic full of who knows what…kitchen stuff, laundry stuff, Tupper ware, old food, and a hundred other items I can’t define.

Yesterday a 26 foot truck load went to charity. Today a 30 cubic yard dumpster or two is being filled with the leftover trash. The estate will pay for removal of the stuff, out of the estate sale proceeds and will still see a profit over and above all expenses.

This is the stuff of someones lives. And those someones left it all there for someone else to deal with-someday. Someday is here. I am the one who is dealing with it. This someone’s son was wise. He hired EstateMAX to handle the details of his parent’s stuff. The house will be sold and life will go on.

Advice to you pack rats and hoarders. You people with OCD, and shopping addictions: STOP now! Don’t leave this for your children to fix later. Take a pill, go to the beach, start running. Do something else while you are alive!

 

What Do We Sell!?

EstateMAX puts up for sale the personal property-all contents- of estates and homes that both gone through their downsizing process or estates that are full of personal property, AS-IS.

In which case we do full organization and trash removal as part of our estate sale service.

Just ask us if you have questions about our ability to market your items to the right buying groups.

Inventories of used and like new items can include and are not limited to, (in no preferential order as below:)

  • Furniture
  • Decor ( Lamps, Lighting, Mirrors, Wall Shelves, Hardware. etc.)
  • Clocks
  • Books
  • Antiques and Collectibles of all Types and Descriptions
  • Precious Metals and Coins
  • Fine and Costume Jewelry
  • Fine and Decorative Art
  • Figurines, Sculpture, etc.
  • Fine Porcelain, China, Pottery
  • Fine Crystal
  • Vintage Glassware
  • Electronics, including non working, vintage computers, receivers, stereos, etc
  • Vinyl LP’s and 45’s
  • DVD’s, CD’s, XBox, etc.
  • Cell phones, other phones
  • Day to Day Kitchen Ware in Good Condition
  • Linens, Table and Bedding
  • Quilts and Fabrics, Textiles
  • Sewing Equipment
  • Dolls, Doll Accessories
  • Advertising Memorabilia
  • Native American Collections
  • Specialty Collections
  • Military Uniforms and Medals and Flags
  • Legal Firearms, Armament
  • Passenger Vehicles: (whether running or not)
  • Lawn and Garden Equipment
  • Farm Equipment
  • Power and Hand Tools and Hardware
  • Garage Items
  • New Building Materials
  • Appliances
  • Musical Instruments
  • Ephemera of all types
  • Designer and Vintage Clothing and High Quality Clothing including
  • Bags, Scarves, Shoes
  • Food in Cupboards
  • And More- Just Ask!

What we do not sell: These Items Can be Considered as Trash or Recycling For all Intents and Purposes of an Estate Sale and Should be Removed From the House Before Estate Sale Setup-either by the Client or EstateMAX Will Handle as Pre-sale Trash Out at Additional Cost, Deducted From the Sale Proceeds-

  • Mattresses and Box Springs ( we can give away with the Headboard, etc.) Against the law to sell used. Ask Us!
  • Piles of empty boxes
  • Particle Board Furniture- Does not usually survive moving and re-installation
  • Broken Furniture, Unless Antique or Collectible-Ask Us!
  • Used Building Materials, Unless Pristine!
  • Personal Trophies, Photos  (Antique Scrapbooks are OK!)
  • Old Software Not Dedicated to Vintage Electronics
  • Old Clothes, Unless Designer and or Vintage/Antique
  • Lawn Chemicals that are opened or illegal ( DDT, etc.)
  • Worn Towels, etc. are donated to Animal Shelters
  • Expired Personal Care Products
  • Very Old, Expired Foods
  • Periodicals-unless Collectible- Ask Us! ( Not Ntl. Geographics.) Are all recycled!
  • Non working appliances- can be recycled by your electric company if they are operating, or can be recycled as scrap
  • Old Baby Cribs, Car Seats, etc. that are not up to current safety codes
  • Soiled Kitchen ware
  • Plastic storage containers, can be recycled

DO NOT DONATE ANYTHING TO CHARITY BEFORE YOUR SALE INVENTORY IS REVIEWED BY ESTATEMAX.

WE SELL FIRST, THEN DONATE AND TRASH LAST

CALL ESTATEMAX at 301-332-5585 for your No Cost Consultation!