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!

 

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

 

Why Pay Full Price for Consumables?

After 37 years on the front lines of Consumer Goods via traditional channels like big box stores and specialty boutique locations, I fell into the estate sale business and never looked back; I know how you can save yourself a bundle on stuff you will want!

My main revelation upon joining forces with industry veteran Laurie Zook in our company “EstateMax” was that the successful “Boomer” generation is downsizing and moving to retirement locations at a record pace.   We call these “Living Estate Sales.”  So, In addition to normal “estate sales” where folks have passed and there is a legal estate to be liquidated, most of our work is in turning unneeded good stuff into cash for our clients.  To fund their starting over…

This is a happy occasion, as clients opt to start over again, rid themselves of stuff they no longer need – due to duplication, or just wanting a fresh start – and they get the cash!

Much of what we find now is cool vintage stuff, collectables, antique goods, such as furniture, art, apparel, books, and nicnacs, items from world travel in some cases.  When sold, these goods get a second life, and go to estate sale shoppers who refurbish, or collect, or resell.  Talk about a treasure house full of things that could become unique wedding gifts!

Fair market value of the goods can be 30 cents on the dollar in many cases less.  So the owner gets cash back after a lifetime of use, and the new owner finds great stuff, many times  in great condition and hardly used at all, due to the love given to the goods by the original owners.  China, silverware, linens, decor……

For our younger shoppers, just starting out, it’s a gold mine of stuff needed for everyday life, or even a first collectable antique or art object for home decor.  One can furnish an entire home or apartment for much less than half of what it would cost in a traditional store….and many times you would get BETTER STUFF than they offer now…… because…..they really don’t make ’em like they used to!

Lastly, learn more about the business and how to find sales at www.EstateMaxOPS.com

See you there,    –Steve Berryman.

 

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