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.

 

Downsizing & Selling Your Stuff? Minimize Your Expectations & Maximize Your Planning!

To Boomers and Seniors or Estates considering downsizing and why and how to sell their stuff by any method- Auction, Online Auction or Onsite Estate Sale-


The Reality of Stuff

All estate sale companies do the pretty much the same thing-

We all sell as much as we can over the period of the estate sale for the highest possible return. The more we sell, the more income for the client and for us!

The key word here is “possible”. It’s relative to conditions.

EstateMAX’s goal is to clear the house, but realistically that rarely happens. We sell between 70% to 85% of contents. 

(After the sale what do we do with “what doesn’t sell?” No, I don’t burn it in the back yard…I like to tease customers when asked. The balance goes to charity or auction, but only IF the auctioneer wants it, and most don’t want the dregs of a household.)

How do we get the buyers into our sales?

EstateMAX uses progressive social media cross marketing techniques, bringing in hundreds of potential buyers over a 3 day sale. We produce You Tube videos and ongoing live videos on Facebook during the sale. We use every “ticket in the book” to market your sale. The competition for used stuff is fierce!

Under normal conditions, it’s a busy estate sale market. On any (pre-Covid) weekend you could count on 30 to 60 estate sales in the DC Metro area.

Most of it is now sold online, and that does not empty a household.

Online agents “cherry-pick” the home and sell the stuff that is going to bring the money. The tough-to-sell furniture ( it takes a sales person to move it out!), clothes, screws, bolts, garbage bags, cleaning products, linens, volumes of books, household and junk, and who knows what- are left behind for the homeowner to deal with. Charity does not pick up with less than a 8 week schedule and worse, during Covid times. So, what’s the value in hiring EstateMAX? What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?

(EstateMAX has continued to perform our job onsite during this pandemic following State Realtor Regulations and we perform a full sale over 3 days and a complete clean out afterward making the home ready for settlement or improvement.)

We set realistic starting prices and discount over the course of the sale, and negotiate ongoing on larger purchases. We take bids on the big stuff and the highest prices offered at the end of the day Sunday. We run 3 day sales, typically 8 hour days, depending on location and inventory. Auctioneers start at a buck for online and off site auctions, typically. It doesn’t matter what is being sold if it’s typical household goods and used furniture. 

We MAX out the sales hours and sale possibilities!

So, Potential Sellers Should Consider these Points When Considering Hiring a Company to “Sell Your Stuff”:

  • You have lived with the items for a while. How long-doesn’t really matter when selling your “stuff”.  It is all “used merchandise”- to the buying public. These Items have served their purpose, and made your life better  over the days past. Now the time has come when you don’t need them. For whatever reason- they don’t serve your purposes, are worn out, the style is no longer what you like, etc.
You are moving on! So let go of the stuff and the expectation!
  • Your emotional attachment and opinion about your stuff doesn’t matter anymore… What matters is what the potential buyer thinks.
  • We are talking about used furniture and personal property of all types. It’s intrinsic market value is from 10 cents to 25 cents of the original dollar. Yes, there are exceptions.  If you are the lucky owner of rare, hard to find, specialty collectibles, coins, precious metals, certain antiques, antiquities, certain vehicles, machinery it can be a seller’s market on those items. ( In 21 years of conducting estate sales I have only run into rarities a few times.) Most people’s homes are duplicates of one another, with differences in color, pattern, furniture style, perhaps, but still- what people have been living with for 30 to 40 years has been dictated by furniture manufacturers and designers of the era. Cookie cutter environments, for the most part.
Stuff is expensive to move and moving is stressful.
  • From Maryland to Florida, for instance- figure a 26 foot truck load is from $5600- up. It’s based on weight and distance and that does not include packing fees, boxes, paper and saran wrap used to cover furniture is several thousand more. Moving is a small fortune. It’s usually fiscally beneficial to disburse of the stuff locally, and buy good, used or new in Florida. You can buy it there for 25 to 50 cents on the dollar. Used stuff is cheap to replace, even the good stuff!
Hire EstateMAX, a reputable company, make a small investment in quality service and reap the financial and stress- free benefits of selling and donating the stuff you no longer want or need.
  • What you think is pretty, useful, cool, valuable, special or handy, is subjective. Estate sale shoppers  might not be as awestruck by it. (Your custom, large floral print valances and Ethan Allen brass and glass coffee table with the Ionic column pilaster legs and the French Provincial armoire were your taste, in the 90’s. Sure they look like-new and have barely been used, but it takes a special someone to walk in the door of your estate sale who will have that similar sense of style and a place to use them, and a few thousand dollars to dole out the weekend of the sale.
The world is innundated with used brand-name and older furniture.
  • Baby Boomers are retiring by the thousands daily and moving out of their homes, leaving the stuff behind they don’t want. The smart ones “get it” that it’s all used, out of style, worn out or somewhat worn out, stuff.
  • Expect a sell through of 70% to 85%, more or less, if your style is “in-style” or vintage, collectible, and the quality is great, and your house is full of small, useful objects and affordable pieces. Highly stylized furniture takes a specific buyer.
  • Be prepared. Get packed up with the stuff you are keeping (30% of a household is typical when downsizing ) and allow your seller enough time to advertise effectively, saturate the market with information, and set up and conduct the sale.
To Make it Easy on Yourself, Start your downsizing 6 months in advance of your move. EstateMAX can help.
  • Hire EstateMAX a minimum of 6 weeks prior to your move out date. Give us time to advertise and get the word out for the best result! We need two weeks prior to your sale for initial pictures and ten days for proper setup, sale and clean up,- that’s a smaller home. Larger homes should have 5 to 7 sale days to maximize results and minimize unsold merchandise.

Expect the best of your estate sale professional- The EstateMAX team is a pro-active, problem-solver, ready to step in and handle personal property disbursements resulting from divorce, old age, suicide, death of elderly, and downsizing transitions.


“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations” 

 

― Jodi Picoult

A Hoarders house, after the sale. This is the stuff that is left after the crowds bought what they wanted. It gets sorted, goes to charity, trash and recycling.

A table top view of a set up ready for the sale in a condo. A real collector.