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. 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.

How EstateMAX Does It!

How Do We Do It

20200103_121236
An estate sale floor

?

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. 

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!

 

 

 

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR ESTATE LIQUIDATOR BEGINS THEIR WORK

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR ESTATE LIQUIDATOR BEGINS THEIR WORK

15 TIPS FOR A SMOOTHER PROCESS

Your estate liquidator has a multi-faceted, complicated job ahead. Before they can begin their work in your home, your assistance in making sure that the following steps are followed are always appreciated. These steps will help the estate sale professional prepare for the large task at hand and genuinely appreciate the professional courtesies you extend to one another.

Here is a list of important things to remember:

  • Always make sure family has removed everything they would like to keep from the estate. Please do your due diligence in selecting and removing items from the estate before the contract is signed. This way, nothing can be sold by accident and no errors will take place.
  • If, after the contract is signed and the estate liquidator has put a tremendous amount of time and work cleaning, advertising, displaying, setting up, etc., and additional items are removed from the sale to keep, you will most likely be subject to additional fees as per their contract. The estate sale professional accepted the sale based on a previous walk-through and mutual understanding. The professional may have already advertised these items, and if the items should disappear, it would tarnish the professional’s reputation.
  • Discuss any questions or concerns with the estate sale professional before the contract is signed and before the estate sale is conducted.
  • Make sure the contract is signed, the dates are set, and everyone is on the same page. Keep a copy of the contract.
  • Remove all personal documents such as tax returns, medical/health records, financial statements, personal bills, etc.
  • Remove all photos, personal letters, diplomas, journals, and other personal papers you want to keep. If these are left behind, you take on the risk that they could be sold, discarded or donated.
  • Collect house keys from neighbors, friends, etc. Secure the house. If necessary, change the locks. Give one set of keys to the liquidator. Consider a new alarm code or password just for the liquidator. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for neighbors, friends and family who have keys to remove items in the middle of the night.
  • Dissolve or properly dispose of prescription medications unless it is agreed upon that the professional will do so. Some cities have a prescription drop-off at pharmacies or the local police station.
  • If there are any “sensitive” items or collections, discuss openly with the estate liquidator whether these things can be sold or should be discarded.
  • Remove any stashes you may be aware of. If there are coins, cash, jewelry, guns, etc., hidden in the home, please notify the estate sale professional so they can notify you when/if they find them.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer unless it is agreed upon that the professional will do so.
  • As a professional courtesy, give the estate liquidator the time and space they need in order to prepare for the sale. Preparing for an estate sale is very challenging work and there is much to do in a certain order. They genuinely appreciate it.
  • Keep your expectations in neutral regarding what items will sell for. No one can be an expert at everything, but a professional estate liquidator will know how to price items, how to research and find the answers or contact a colleague who does have the answer. They know what these items are currently selling for, as opposed to “asking prices” anyone finds on the internet. What an item sells for and what the asking price is are two distinctly different figures. Anyone can ask high retail prices, but that is nowhere near accurate in today’s softer economy. Offering old appraisals are good for identification purposes, but not valid for today’s values.
  • As with everything else in life, there are no guaranteed outcomes with an estate sale, however, the estate liquidator will do their best with all aspects of the sale as they want you to do well, and want themselves to do well. The outcome is dependent on many things, including but not limited to; who comes to the sale, how much money they are willing to spend, the weather, location of the sale, fair pricing, etc.

Working together amicably with the estate sale professional will ensure a mutual beneficial relationship based on trust. When it starts off well, it will end well too.

©2018 The American Society of Estate Liquidators®

http://www.ASELOnline.com

Julie Hall, Director of ASEL

The American Society of Estate Liquidators, LLC

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.