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 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!

 

 

 

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.