Hiring an estate sale company to liquidate an estate seems like a ‘no brainer’ to some people – especially in certain areas of the country where estate sale companies are prolific and popular. As you can imagine there are complaints – they sold the good stuff and left the junk! They sold the quality stuff the second day and had very few if any sales afterward! It rained and very few people showed up and the estate sale company went into desperation mode! They bought all the good stuff for themselves at a big discount! These are all common complaints but believe it or not the biggest single complaint of an estate sale company is – drumroll please – It resulted in very little money to the family!
Estate sale companies are not regulated and have no external policing. There is no regulatory or licensing agency to which you can forward a complaint and if I decided to be an estate sale company, I can register a fictitious business name and be in business tomorrow. There are no background checks, no ‘estate sale company’ schools and very few industry associations. There are some good estate sale companies, but there are also a significant number of companies that have no clue what they are selling! Trust me on this point – I have created a cottage industry and made relatively good money over the years buying and reselling items that estate sale companies undervalued, incorrectly identified, mislabeled, misspelled and generally ignored because they attributed little value to the items.
How can an estate sale company sell your items for the most value if they do not know EXACTLY what they are selling and have clearly identified it? Sometimes if you are selling a loved one’s items even you do not know what you are selling or the inherent value. Estate sale companies like auction companies have TWO big obstacles to overcome to do their job effectively. 1. They need to be professional Appraisers to accurately identify your items and to assign value, and 2) they have a dual conflict of interest because they represent the seller (you) and the buyers (their customers). They are probably only going to see you once, but they see their regular customers every weekend. Where do you really think their loyalty lies? You would not have a real estate professional represent you in selling and buying your home without some serious disclosures and you certainly would not have a lawyer represent both husband and wife in the same divorce case without serious disclosures, but families blindly turn over a generation (or more) of collected and inherited items to an estate sale company and ‘hope they do a good job’.
With this brief introduction to the pitfalls of estate sale companies, you will know some of the pitfalls. At Maple Leaf Appraisals we highly recommend Auctionspear and the licensed, qualified and background checked auction liquidation professionals for all estate and business liquidations. Auctioneers are licensed, regulated and knowledgeable and, more important, they make sure they know what they are selling!!!