What is an Estate Sale? When Should you Consider It?

Estate sales are a way of selling the properties and belongings in your home and liquidating them. During an estate sale, the house is open to the public, who can come in to look around and purchase the items they like. Estate sales are also sometimes referred to as liquidation sales or tag sales.

Many people conduct estate sales as a fast and efficient way of getting rid of their possessions when they are downsizing, moving, or when married couples are getting a divorce. Sometimes, people may choose to conduct an estate sale when they are in debt; or, in case of death.

The Kansas City metro and surrounding areas see a lot of estate sales or moving sales, as they are referred to in some instances. Many refined shoppers often make purchases from such events for great prices, and they are also great opportunities for people to purchase rare and valuable items and heirlooms.

When someone dies, and they do not leave behind a will, the most common way to handle their possessions is through an estate sale. In such cases, the court has to appoint a representative who will be in charge of handling all the sales and operations of the properties of the deceased owner. For this reason, such types of estate sales are known as probate sales.

How does an estate sale work?

An estate sale follows a fairly simple procedure. The house is open to the public, and people can enter, look around, and purchase items that are marked with a selling price. Most estate sales take place for about two to three days, and they usually happen over the weekend to attract as many people as possible.

An estate sale company is usually in charge of the sales and operations, making sure that the event goes smoothly. These are professionals who take care of every aspect of liquidation sales and help you ensure that all items are sold at fair prices.

People walk around, picking the items they like until they are ready to check out. If any item, such as a piece of furniture or an appliance, is too huge to carry around, they are marked as ‘sold’ so that others are aware that they have already been taken.

Some companies even allow bidding on certain items if an interested individual is not ready to pay the marked price. However, by the end of the sale, if someone else is willing to pay the marked price, then the bidding is canceled. But if the item isn’t sold by the end, it will be deferred to the highest bidder. This helps to get rid of all items of sale quickly and on time.

Many estate sale companies often advertise upcoming sales online well in advance so that it will attract more people. Moreover, this allows the shoppers to have an idea of which kind of items will be on sale, and they get to see if there are any items that they are interested in.

What system is followed for shoppers to get in?

Most estate sales in the Kansas City metro and surrounding areas follow a first-come, first-serve basis, as do estate sales in other parts of the country. Often, shoppers arrive before the start of the sale so that they can get their hands on the best deals, which means that they have to form a line before entering. A line is formed at the door of the house, just like you would for buying concert tickets or any other event that attracts a lot of people.

Another system that estate sales sometimes use is the number system, where, on arrival, shoppers take numbers that reserve their turn to enter into the home. This means that an order of entry is followed rather than simply people entering as and when they arrive. Some estate sale companies may have their own policies regarding this system, so shoppers have to make sure to check with them beforehand.

Some moving sales also use a sign-up sheet, which, like the number system, allows shoppers to save their spot for entry. All they have to do is sign in their names and contact information so that they can be called when it’s their turn.

Out of all the entry systems, forming a line is the most commonly used system as it is simple and efficient. However, there may be disputes between shoppers over who reached first or where in the line they are standing, so companies must take measures to ensure that no such disputes occur.

When should you consider an estate sale?

There are many reasons why you may want to have an estate sale. They are a great way to sell a wide range of your personal items at attractive prices as efficiently as possible in a short amount of time. So, when can you consider conducting an estate sale.

Here are the most common reasons why liquidation sales are organized:

  • Downsizing

If you want to downsize your belongings and get rid of several items from your home, holding an estate sale is a great way to do it. Many people who wish to declutter and make money while doing so go with estate sales. This way, you can be certain that your items are sold at great prices and, most importantly, ensure that what you wanted gone will be gone.

  • Divorce

If you are going through a divorce, you may want to shift somewhere else and get rid of your personal belongings from the home you once shared with your partner. Or maybe, you and your partner have mutually decided to liquidate everything. Whatever your situation may be, liquidation sales are a great way to turn your properties into cash when you need it most.

  • Relocation

If you are planning to move to a different city or country, the best way to get rid of your items is through moving sales. This way, you don’t have to worry about what to do with your belongings; plus, you get to make plenty of extra cash to help you with your move and start your new life.

  • Debt/bankruptcy

Another common reason why people choose to hold estate sales is that they are in debt or bankrupt. Sometimes, a court may order an estate sale to help them liquidate their properties and have enough money to pay back their outstanding debt.

  • Death

When someone in the family dies, you may not know what to do with their personal belongings. In such cases, an estate sale can come to your rescue.

Another instance is when someone dies without leaving any will or without specifying their heir; in such cases, the state usually steps in and takes care of the sale of the deceased person’s properties. The money from the liquidation sales then goes to the state.

Benefits of an estate sale

It’s not difficult to see that estate sales offer plenty of benefits. Let’s take a look at these below:

  • Help you sell your items efficiently

Estate sales are extremely efficient because they attract plenty of people who are interested in purchasing your properties. This means that you have a system that can help you sell your items quickly in the shortest time possible. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about packaging and shipping of the sold items as you would in online sales. People walk in with money and walk out with the items on sale.

  • Makes sure that you sell at fair prices

With estate sales, you can be confident that you are getting the best possible prices for all your items. The estate sale company will help you decide on fair prices for each of the item, making sure that you get the money you deserve, while still making the prices reasonable to shoppers.

  • Help you make money easily

Liquidation sales are great for quickly turning your belongings into cash when you need it the most. For example, when you are downsizing, in debt, or relocating, you can earn money by liquidating your items through estate sales.

Estate sale vs. Garage sale

Many people confuse an estate sale with a garage sale or a yard sale. While these are very similar, they do have a significant difference. An estate sale is much bigger than a garage sale, and there are usually more items on sale.

Moreover, an estate sale is often organized and handled by professional estate sale companies as opposed to a garage sale, which happens on a much smaller scale and organized by an individual.

Estate sale vs. Auction

Estate sales are different from estate auctions. While the purpose of both of these methods is to liquidate personal items, an estate sale has fixed prices for all the items on sale, but an auction involves putting up the items for bidding and then sold to the highest bidder.

In other words, an estate auction does not have fixed prices for the items on sale. Rather, they have a starting price, and bidders can place their bids for higher prices. Both of these liquidation methods are great ways of getting rid of items you no longer want/need and turning them into cash.

What you can do to prepare for an estate sale

If you are conducting an estate sale, you may want to prepare yourself a bit. In most cases, the estate sale company will take care of mostly everything from start to finish, so you don’t have much to worry about.

However, you may want to thoroughly go through your home to find all the items that you can put up for sale. Make sure to go through drawers, closets, cupboards, the attic, the basement, and even under and behind furniture. You may just find valuable items you have forgotten about or thought were lost.

While downsizing, if there are any items that are personal or you want to keep with you for certain reasons, make sure to keep them safe and secure and separate from the rest of all the other items that will be up for sale. These can include photos, diaries and journals, family heirlooms, jewelry, personal papers and documents, and so on.

If you can, take photos or videos of the contents you wish to sell. You never know if you may be required to show some kind of documentary evidence for your estate in the future, and should the need arise, these photos/videos will come in handy.

If you have rare items and antiques that you would like to put up for sale, make sure that you don’t handle these on your own. Even trying to clean or organize them is very risky as an accident or improper method of cleaning or handling can lead to damages, rendering them worthless. Even just tiny damages to the delicate finishes or the special markings on the items can drastically reduce their value.

Seeking the services of professional estate sale experts

It’s best to seek help from experts when it comes to estate sales. Too often, people make the mistake of taking things into their own hands, and they donate items that could have been sold at a high price, or they hold garage sales where items are under-priced.

Estate sales experts know which items are in demand in today’s market and how much they are worth, so you can be certain that you always get the best possible prices for each of your items.

Usually, it takes about two to four weeks in total to get everything ready for an estate sale. This includes sorting out items, scheduling, pricing, advertising, and setting up your house for the sale. So, it is important for those who wish to conduct liquidation sales to know that estate sale companies need at least two weeks to make sure that everything is well organized and that the event goes smoothly.