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.

Estate Sale Wars!

A Thesis on Current Trends in the Estate Sale Industry

Steve Berryman, Director of Sales EstateMAX

There are a greater number of novice estate sale companies we are competing with for estate sale jobs now, chasing a clientele that has more options than ever to liquidate using their own means and outlets.  This is a “double-whammy” in impact to us. To get a new job, we now have to win twice: We must win the selection by a client agreeing to use our services, and, and our format has to win over competing formats that are in some ways different from our own. We have to stand by our experience and reputation and use progressive marketing techniques to win new customers.

EstateMAX’s primary business is as a “True” estate sale company, processing sales within a home, as a “tag sale” with everything priced.  We use a 3-day sale typically, discounting heavily on day 3 and promoting dynamically throughout the event that we ourselves host and monitor. We know from 21 years of experience, that this yields the most cash-for- stuff for the client, chiefly because we don’t have any moving expenses to take goods off-premises to a warehouse setting, for instance, and then we benefit from the added advantage of taking-in local customers who see our many strategically placed directional street signs taking folks right to our door.   We have at times made 30% of all sales just from “walk-ins” who never saw an ad, but just dropped in by chance.

Our step one is to acquire a new job.  We must differentiate ourselves from everyone from Facebook community pages, to outside auctions, to inside auctions, many of whom do not bring with them extended experience, true knowledge bonafides, process knowledge on marketing, sales, and know how on hi-tech photograph and videography.

We also have the hidden advantage of having a direct following, via our mailing lists and many versions of Facebook dedicated pages our industry.  We reach about 120,000 interested potential shoppers, many we know from repeat sales. They know we only accept “good sales.”

The chief problem is that many folks that go fishing for an estate sale company have never done so before, and may have never even attended one in the past.  How for them to be the judge? This especially in a “mad-world” where anyone that has ever conducted a yard sale, can talk the talk, and experiment with transferring this process into a house.  As there are no licensing or regulatory hurdles in our area, MD, DC, NVA, anybody can claim to be an estate sale company!

In order to differentiate our offerings, and “what makes us different,” there is not but one answer in place, but a string of doing steps just a little bit better is essential.  These include, and are not limited to:  

*Having as much exposure at the front-end of the game as possible in order to get as many “at bats” or chances to press our format to potential clients.  We have and generate as much word of mouth with realtors as possible. We engage our past clients to write positive reviews for us, and to get them to want to introduce our services to their needy friends and relatives.

*We conduct ongoing pro-level photography and videography which is added to our web presence, www.EstateMAXops.com and is cross posted to our own Email distribution lists, many dedicated Facebook pages, and to our own custom ads created to go onto estate sale platforms like EstateSales.net, etc.

*We submit proof of performance directly from all sales to Angie’s List, and do maintain a AAAAA rating going back years, and we hold their “Super Service Achievement Award” for 5 years going up to and including 2019, just announced.

None of the above good stuff is light hidden under a shade!  We are presenting this directly to clients and real estate agents, and are producing written articles and blogs that further get our story out.  

In the final analysis, to a client that is willing to listen openly, has not made any prior commitment to another company (of format) and is willing to take the time necessary to read our reviews, and stories of estate liquidation conquest, given a fair shake we win the jobs a high percentage of the time.

To beat the trend of greater competition, it must be done actively with extra preparation of marketing materials and methods.  Extra attention must be taken to make that first impression on sales leads in the fasted and most positive way.

And care must be taken to look deeply into “hidden objections,” and answer to the ways of Auctions, In-Home Auctions, Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, and E-Bay.  Again, most sophisticated neighborhoods already have been using the alternative Facebook listings, spoiling existing pricing structures, for several years now.

For instance, it is industry standard, especially in outlying areas, that a fully realized estate sale will return about .24 cents on the dollar, compared to that of an auction, which standards reveal as closer to .11 cents on the dollar.

Also, it cannot be overstated, how much money is lost selling “smalls” not piecemeal but as a lot in an Auction, and it cannot be overstated how much potential is eaten up by Auction companies that truck and cherry pick goods to an Auction House.  A TRUE estate sale, as EstateMAX insists on conducting, easily these other methods of liquidating a property in the most productive way.

All of this said, a professional conversation with the clients, impressing them of the differences and company structures is essential.  There is much to be learned in order to make an informed decision on what company to choose, but keep remembering, in the vast number of client meetings one is dealing with newbies that you must take the time to spoon feed, give examples, work out timetables, and encourage them ask answers to prove they were even listening- in some cases!

It’s a real war out there, and those that are prepared will come out on top.  

EstateMAX Action Page: See if an Estate Sale is Right for You!

You are only ONE CLICK Away:

*Click HERE to see if an Estate Sale is Right for YOU!    

*Click HERE to Read About How WE DO IT, and what makes EstateMax Special!    

*Click HERE to Read our Reviews!     

*Click HERE to See our You Tube Channel!  [actual sale Promotional Videos, and tours of our recent estate sales!]   

*Click HERE to see our Angie’s List Super Service Award, that SHOWS we are different!     

*Click HERE to see how we can help you Organize, Pack-up, and Coordinate your Move with “Mission Transition”   

*Click HERE to Contact us to ANSWER YOUR Questions, or to Book your Estate Sale!     

EstateMAX is Fully Vetted and Accountable!

At EstateMAX we know that an estate sale company ( or any) is only as good as their word and their persistence, as well as their business practices.

During the 22 years in the transitions and estate liquidation industry our team has pushed through situations for our clients where others might have folded, thrown in the towel, wept and walked out of the sale process: all before, during or after the estate sale!

We at EstateMAX have persisted-through securing contracts, handling set up, selling, clean up afterward and continuing to sell for our clients, on specialty items, to make our estate and downsizing sales success stories!

Some Estate Sale Anecdotes

Real life stories surrounding our real life client experiences include: selling through the aftermath and clean up of broken water pipes that flooded our client’s basement on sale day, working through the beginning of a ( suprise!) snowstorm only to leave the home 3 hours later and drive home in 8 inches of newly fallen snow, a precarious two hour trip;  holding a sale in Ashburn VA, the property, down a quarter mile one lane road in the forest which demanded de-snaking, de-spidering and de-mousing then selling on a rainy weekend directing ( bad drivers?!) traffic in and out of the muddy property. We’ve moved an (almost unmovable) 1958 Silver Cloud Rolls Royce out of it’s garage to our property by flat bed, then sent a courier to meet the buyer at the airport who flew in with an attache full of hundred dollar bills, then return him safely to the airport. A week later we met the car transport and sent the Rolls to Iowa.  We have sold 400 Christmas Village buildings and their accessories, and matched them to their boxes in one sale, while selling the rest of the contents of the home. In another sale, on the coldest days of the year, we set up and sold over 400 die-cast model tractors in the detached garage, built a fire in the wood burning stove ( thank goodness it was there!) and reaped over $7000 in sales in two days just from that…  We have sold the contents of 8000 square foot home packed full of vintage and new decor, including a huge garage full of unopened bags of NEW stuff from Homegoods and other box stores. That was a 6 day sale and the client purchased a new car with the proceeds! The USPS lost a Priority Mail Envelope-within which was a Cashier’s Check made out to a client in dire financial need. We worked ( pleaded) with our bank to cancel the typically non-cancel able check and then client personally with a new one. (BTW the original showed up a month later at their home.)

We have found ourselves ( too many times- but it’s the job-) purging multitudes of stuff, and then again de-cluttering the home,  just in order to set up to photograph then price it all to do a sale. We spend what it takes to advertise, whether pre-sale for large items, photograph, video and cover the market with information, organize and price and during the sale, keep the ball rolling with yet more on line videos, on going merchandising and surveying of the property for customer activity, field questions, “put fires out”, meet buyers of specialty goods, sign Bills of Sale, turn in vehicle tags, manage removal and payment of everything, secure the doors and windows at the end of every day and go back after the sale is over to pack and organize, if contracted, and meet charity for pick up of unsold goods.

If it can happen, it probably will happen in the course of an estate sale. EstateMax knows how to handle the pack rats, the hoarders, the unprepared homeowner, the poor maintenance issues and unlikely events that occur.

EstateMAX under Re-Flea LLC, is vetted by Angie’s List, Inc. where you can find our reviews by at least 70+ actual clients. We do business with a black and white agreement, (no smoke and mirrors.) We are FBI finger printed, hold Montgomery County Second Hand Personal Property Dealers Licensing and State of Maryland Precious Metals Licensing.

 – Dale Wallace

We don’t know how this could have gone better. EstateMax was very punctual in the initial meeting
and review. Everything was spelled out for us beforehand. The best part was we did not have to lift a
finger…EstateMax handled every aspect of the estate sale. Throughout this whole process EstateMax was extremely professional and did all they said they would. We highly recommend them for this type of service.

  • CategoryAppraisals – Antiques/Jewelry/Items, Furniture – Sales, Auction Services
  • Services PerformedYes
  • Cost$4000
19817 Belmont Ridge Rd
Ashburn, VA 20147

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!

Tips on choosing an estate sale company – from SeniorAdvisor.com

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Estate Sales

[Tips and checklists from http://www.SeniorAdvisor.com]

Estate sale companies are businesses that facilitate the organization, pricing, marketing, and selling of some or all of the contents of an individual’s or family’s home. These services may be necessary after a family member passes away, or may be part of the downsizing process when the resident of the home moves into a different living arrangement.

Learn more about estate sales:

View a glossary of estate sale industry terms.

What are the benefits of using an estate sale service?

Many of the activities involved in hosting an estate sale may sound like holding a yard sale or garage sale, something many homeowners have done themselves. While there are certainly similarities, estate sales operate on a much larger scale, and often deal with items of more value. It is possible for an individual or family to have an estate sale without professional assistance, but hiring a service can make the process much less stressful and more profitable.Benefits of hiring an estate sale service include:

  • Saves time and energy. Family members don’t need to personally sort and catalog every item in a home, or worry about how to set up and run the sale.
  • Reduces stress. Professionals offload the burden of managing all of the “stuff” and provide an objective, experienced perspective in an emotionally fraught process.
  • Increases revenue. Estate sale companies know which items are most valuable to buyers and price your items accordingly, helping families make the most of the downsizing or liquidation process.
  • Boosts visibility. By marketing and advertising your sale, service providers ensure that you attract as many buyers as possible.
  • Adds credibility. Professional estate sales carry a greater perceived value than family-run sales, attracting a higher quantity and quality of customers – sometimes up to several thousand people in a day!

What are the different types of estate sale services?

Estate sale services describe their businesses in a variety of ways depending on their specialty, but there are two basic categories:Companies that focus on estate sales after the passing of a loved one:

  • Estate sale services
  • Estate liquidators

Companies that focus on assisting seniors with downsizing:

  • Senior relocation services
  • Senior move management services
  • Downsizing or “rightsizing” moving companies

Regardless of the focus, these businesses typically provide similar services, including organizing the contents of a home, researching and assigning a fair market value to the items designated to be sold, advertising and marketing the estate sale in order to attract buyers, running the sale itself, and assisting with removal of any remaining items after the sale.

How does an estate sale work?

An estate sale, also known as a tag sale, is the process of selling all or most of the contents of a home. Estate sales are typically held after a death or other major life event, such as moving, divorce, or bankruptcy. Although they can be run by the homeowner or family, estate sales are typically held by professional service providers and operate at a larger scale than a yard or garage sale.

Organizing the Sale

Before a sale, the estate sale company assists the family or homeowner with organizing, sorting, and pricing their belongings. They then prepare the house for the sale by cleaning and staging the items to optimize visibility. The day of the sale, the public is invited into the home to browse the items for sale. The estate sale company coordinates the buying and selling process from end to end.

This often includes managing substantial traffic flow. Popular estate sales can open with a line out the door, and estate sale etiquette dictates that customers remain in this order so that everything is seen on a “first come first serve” basis. Some estate sale companies use a number system to guarantee this process, in which every customer is given a number as he or she arrives and shopping proceeds based on that order.

Purchasing and Selling the Items

At the sale, customers simply pick up smaller items that they wish to buy and take them to the check out station to complete their purchase. They may also tell sale attendants to mark larger items as sold. The option to bargain for price depends on the sale. Some estate sale companies will also allow bids on more expensive items, using a system similar to a silent auction in which a customer sets out a price that he or she is willing to pay, but only retains claim on that item if someone else is not willing to pay more. The item is sold to the highest bidder at the end of the day. Traditionally, many estate sales only took cash, but that is changing with mobile credit card readers and some sales now accept major credit cards as well.

Some estate sale companies sell items through other venues in addition to the home, such as online auctions, directly to antique dealers or brokers, or to private collectors. The vendor is motivated to sell your belongings for the best possible price, because their compensation is based on the value received for your items. In return for their services, estate sale companies take a percentage of the total earnings from the sale, typically 25-35%.

What services are provided by estate sale companies?

Whether an estate sale company is assisting with an entire estate liquidation or helping with the downsizing process, they typically offer an end-to-end set of services that help families transition out of the existing home. Services provided by estate sale companies may include:

Preparing for the estate sale

  • Meeting with an estate attorney if necessary
  • Helping decide what to sell, what to donate, what to keep in the family, what to move, etc.
  • Determining what can and cannot fit in a new home
  • Organizing and sorting personal belongings according to individual wishes and/or a will or trust
  • Cleaning items for sale as necessary
  • Inventory and photographing items for sale
  • Appraising items to be sold and determine most profitable sales method (in-home estate sale, online auction, antique dealer, private collector, etc.)
  • Cleaning and preparing the house
  • Advertising and marketing the sale

Running the estate sale

  • Staging the home and its contents for optimal flow and visibility
  • Organizing items for sale attractively with clear pricing
  • Managing the sale the day of, including customer service, traffic flow, purchases, inventory management, bookkeeping, and hosting
  • Providing security to direct cars and secure valuables
  • Selling items via other venues such as online auctions or direct to dealers if optimal

After the estate sale

  • Taking follow-up inventory
  • Coordinating removal of remaining items, such as donations or delivery of heirlooms or inherited items to family members or new owners
  • Accounting for profits from sale and any additional legal or financial considerations, such as tax deductions from donations
  • Arranging for storage if necessary
  • Preparing the existing home to be sold, often including cleaning and/or repairs
  • Working with senior real estate agents, accountants, elder law attorneys, movers, additional experts or appraisers

News and Articles about Estate Sales

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