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.

 

Upcoming January 2021 EstateMax Estate Sales

2021 Is Off To a Fast Start for Estatemax! 

Covid19 Regulations are used at all of our in person sales. 10 to 15 shoppers allowed in the home at a time- masks and social distancing required. Bring your own bags and boxes, please. Labor and a truck to remove your furniture always with EstateMAX supervision. We do not always provide labor to remove from the home. EstateSales are not conducive to handicap access or babies, typically. No walkers, wheelchairs, baby carriages. If you can not walk steadily on your own, please do not attempt to enter.

Here are the URLS of our upcoming January 2021 sales:

Darnestown Maryland January 8th through 10th. Art Deco and Art Deco Repros, fine art and household: https://www.estatesales.net/MD/Darnestown/20878/2732646

Thurmont Maryland, Full Contents of Home-Living Estate of Joyce Michaud Nice, Reknowned Ceramicist and Professor: Household, Furnishings, Equipment. Follow up Studio and Gallery sale to be February 13,14,15.https://www.estatesales.net/MD/Thurmont/21788/2759655

Columbia Maryland, True Estate Sale, Full Contents of Home includes 300 Longaberger Baskets, Mid Century Furniture, Tea Pot collection, Handblown Glass and much more-https://www.estatesales.net/MD/Columbia/21044/2758248

Thurmont Maryland, Studio and Gallery of Joyce Michaud Nice- All ceramics materials, wheels, equipment, lighting, unglazed pottery, etc. Gallery is full of her finished pieces and displays. URL to be posted on estatesales.net in early February.

Call Laurie Zook, Chief Estates Officer with any questions at 301-332-5585

Planning Your Future, One Step at a Time-All Details Handled!

Planning Your Future: One Step at a Time-Do It Before You Hire Anyone!
EstateMAX is a service company specializing in transitions and downsizing, estate and downsizing sales and property clean up on all size properties.
Additionally our professional resource network in the moving, estate/legal, and real estate industries are available for our clients for consultation and hire! Just ask us!
Our aim is to handle all the details of an individual’s or family’s life transition, beginning with comprehensive planning and fulfillment of the physical transition of their personal property to its new home,  living-estate and estate sales, real estate sales and property updating, as needed.
Hire us for one service, or the entire package!

Specifically, our professional team includes: transitions/downsizing specialists, moving companies, estate attorneys, real estate pros, estate/downsizing sales, property improvement contractors and last but not least, trash out and basic property improvement. All of our team are known professionals in their trades. 

We can leave your property sold, clean and ready for settlement and you moved and set up in your new home!
Call Laurie Zook of EstateMAX now for your no cost phone consultation.
Let’s Plan Your Future Together, One Step at a Time. 301-332-5585

EstateMAX is a 6X Angie’s List Super Service Award Earning Company, as Reviewed by Real Clients! Since 1999-fully vetted and insured.

Take Out What You Love, And Walk Away!

Downsizing and Moving? An Estate to Liquidate? The first rule of thumb we give our clients is to take what they want out of the house, and leave the rest.
Seriously, EstateMAX will handle the rest! Stop fussing and worrying. Set a time line with a deadline and work backwards. Call us, we can help with our downsizing consultation and get you started on track.
We have worked with clients, both boomers and senior citizens,  who are “the worse” packrats and get stymied, frozen in place, when it comes to deciding what to move with them. Victims of their stuff. I say, take what you need, and leave the rest. Simple for me to say, but for this person it can take months to get it done, going it alone. The ability to prioritize isn’t there for some of them. (It’s all important-Stuff.)  People with OCD have a very hard time letting go in a timely manner. I can help with our downsizing services. We take it room by room.
I say, move what you are keeping into one room of your home and leave the rest. If your realtor wants you to clean the place up in order to show it, call me, I can help with our downsizing services. www.Missiontransition.net. One room at a time, we will go through, as you deem necessary, and pack up as we go for your move. One closet and cabinet at a time.
EstateMAX also does staging, using the best pieces in the home, removing the clutter and the distractions and supplementing with new or appropriate used accessories.
EstateMAX chops up your project into achievable blocks of time and action, to make your move-out a success, with much less stress. Let us handle the details of transitions and sales for you.
Call 301-332-5585 Laurie

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.

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
  • Full House Cleaning and Specialty 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.

Bottom line- there is a glut 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. 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.”

Retailers charge new prices on it, just like on vehicles, which we also sell, in most instances lose resale value quickly. We explain up front where the bottom line is on the return value of used furniture. If it’s collectible, rare, of true interest to the buying public, the value is higher. That’s less than the 20% of goods in a home, typically. The 80% of the return is in the cumulative sale of all things in a household, and the savings recognized in managing the various steps of the project on your own.

We ask our clients for a positive review of our services following our work for them. If they can not do that for us 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.

EstateMAX Covid 19 Selling Standards

EstateMAX is Selling Successfully On-Site and On-Line During Covid 19-

We are up and running and have been since April, albeit not as busy as we would have been otherwise, but none the less, have been conducting estate and downsizing sales following Maryland Real Estate Covid 19 Guidelines.

What does this mean to our clients?

It means we can conduct your sale NOW, with no risk to you – or our sale shoppers because we enforce the rules.

We allow 10 persons in the home at one time, more in larger homes. Masks and Social Distancing regulations are followed and enforced. An estate sale is a business enterprise, in a residential environment and our customers respect our standards, or else they are asked to leave.

Give us a call today to schedule your no cost consultation to sell your unwanted personal property, on site, or on line!

 

 

OPS Online Auctions Now Accepting Estate & Downsizing Clients

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!

 

How EstateMAX Does It!

How Do We Do It

20200103_121236
An estate sale floor

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After you hire us-we have a very straight forward contract for on-site and online auctions, that offers additional services, too, like transitions services, packing, property clean out, updating and staging. We get to work.

We are a personalized company. You communicate what you need and we design your project to accommodate your needs.

For On-Site EstateMAX tag Sales, we organize, merchandise, price and set up our props, tables, the cashier station to conduct the sale on-site. (For on-site sales, typically our clients have already moved out with the things they are keeping. If not, we purge and organize before our set up.)

For Online OPS auctions we set up from your pre selected inventory, tag with a bar code  and photograph in your home. These items stay in place until after the auction, when we come in to meet the buyers for pickup at a predetermined time, done in typically one day. (The Client is not part of the photography or delivery process.)

On-line auctions are appropriate for liquidating personal property in a situation where there is difficulty accessing the property, for a smaller property, where the owner is not selling and leaving the home and, where it’s OK for the auction house can “cherry pick” the inventory to sell only the best of the goods.

Typically, after the sale is over, we  clean out the property, leave it empty and swept and ready for the next step-


What’s the difference in the results between onsite and online? All jobs are unique and they all have their similarities.

It’s all about the audience. An estate sale, regardless of the sales strategy- is NOT a retail setting. A fictitious example: Your Aunt Edna’s Grandmother’s vase, supposedly found buried in Latvia in the 17th century, (your prized possession)… It needs to be authenticated and appraised and if an antiquity, sold online, where it will be exposed to the largest audience. If we can’t do that, we shop for the best auction venue for you.

On the contrary, your Ethan Allen sofa purchased in the 90’s, and still barely touched, as lovely as new, is worth what we can get for it, regardless of the price paid. Why? Because of capricious tastes in furniture.

Your expectations should be in check. https://estatemaxops.com/2019/09/11/downsizing-selling-your-stuff-minimize-your-expectations-maximize-your-planning/


An onsite sale attracts hundreds of buyers in person who are responding to our professional marketing and advertising, who might have shopped with EstateMAX before, and also those who are “driving by” and reacting to street-side advertising. They want to come into the home and “experience the goods in the setting”.

Price points for on-site sales start, as it makes sense,-considering all circumstances: item’s condition, rarity, demand, setting. We set the price on a price tag and discount over the course of the sale, remaining open to negotiation based on the buyer’s volume purchases.

In contrast but not to the detriment, online auctions are 1-dimensional. They attract an online viewership comfortable with buying used goods without testing, poking and touching.  The items are photographed either on site or on a stark, white background.  From a thousand to a hundred thousand viewers and more…that all depends on the auction and the depth of advertising dollars spent.

All items are sold “AS IS”, Electronics and equipment are not tested, but sold “AS IS” with that caveat. All sales are final for both sales strategies. You, the client is paid within 5 days of the end of the sale by secure bank wire transfer.