Dangers of Choosing a Company Based on Their Low Commission

Everyone loves to save money, but cutting corners on some services is just not advisable.  One such service is when you hire a professional estate liquidator due to the relocation of a parent, downsizing, or the loss of a loved one.

The emphasis here is on the word professional.    The estate sale professional is one who has dedicated much time, care, concern, diligence, devotion, education, research, plus so much more to attain the skills required to conduct a successful estate sale for their clients.  This professional works countless hours and endures many sleepless nights for their clients, constantly learning and navigating an ever-changing industry and dealing with an increasingly difficult public of buyers.

Conducting an estate sale is not just about organizing and displaying, nor as easy as it appears.  Genuine professionals do it well and make it look easy, even though it is really very hard.  They truly earn their commission because of all they know how to do, including how to maximize sale proceeds.

Saving those few dollars selecting the wrong company could end up costing you!

Consumers Beware

This industry is inundated with pop-up or fly-by-night companies that appear out of nowhere.  While there are exceptions to every rule, we see the following often:

  • Many of them have little to no industry training, skills, or understanding of the scope of the work that lies ahead of them.
  • They often know little about today’s market and what items will sell for.
  • They often sell at very low prices and then depart.
  • Some don’t even price items or research the value of higher-end pieces.
  • Sometimes they leave a mess behind for the client to pick up and handle.
  • The sale proceeds are often quite low, because they didn’t make the effort to make the sale as successful as possible.
  • They may not pay the client in a pre-determined time frame or offer an accounting of what was sold.
  • To get the contract signed, they undercut with a low commission, claiming they will do the same things as their professional competitors, but will they?

PLEASE do not hire a company based on commission alone.  Find out what the commission includes, research the company, and make your decision based on sound information and facts.

If the commission is very low, one must ask how they can afford the proper resources: enough staff to organize/display/watch the crowd effectively, security to minimize theft, advertising, appropriate prices, proper signage, social media, and more.

Lower commission can also bring lower effort.  Unless it is a very simple estate sale, what normally suffers is quality:

  • Quality of care
  • Quality of service
  • Quality in research
  • Quality in diligent preparation

These qualities are attributes of a professional, not a bargain-basement business.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE HIRING!  The time it takes to find those true professionals is time well spent.

©2016 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at julie@theestatelady.com.

 

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“Warning, Warning!”

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Remember the 1960s TV series “Lost in Space?”  The Robinson’s robot would wave his mechanical arms and shout out “Warning, warning!” when danger was near.  I wish I could do that every time I hear a nightmarish story in my industry, which makes my gut cringe and gives me gray hair at the same time.

I met with a client this past week; she had a home full of truly beautiful things she had collected over 50 years.  Many of my clients in recent years are either downsizing or simply don’t want their amassed collection of stuff any longer.  This particular client had items of significant value and had several people walk through her home, giving ideas on how to sell or whittle down her collection.  This is not necessarily a good idea: too many “cooks in the kitchen” with differing ideas on how the possessions should be handled appropriately.

I was finally called in because she no longer knew who to trust.  She needed an expert to come in and tell her the truth of the best way to sell the items and what they are really worth in today’s market.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up when she told me “three estate people” (that no one has ever heard of) came in to her home and offered her one sum of money for 3,500 square feet full of beautiful possessions.  “Take it or leave it.”  Thank God she left it!

I failed miserably trying to maintain a poker face when another person (no one has ever heard of) offered to take everything and sell it in their shop, without any detailed accounting or itemization of her things.  When she told me how much she had been offered for her things, I nearly hit the floor as the blood drained from my face!

Warning, warning!  Hear me shout from the mountain top.  DO NOT DO THIS!

Always seek personal property professionals who are highly recommended by other professionals.  Let them look, value, advise on your possessions before you do anything else!

Do not throw away or give away anything until a professional has walked through!

Please do not accept the first person that no one has heard of.  Please take your time and do your homework!  Hasty mistakes will hurt you most of all.

First, identify anything of value.  Then, make decisions on what you will keep and what you will sell and stick with those decisions.  Always look for the best professional you can find.  It’s perfectly fine to interview several companies; determine what they can offer you and who you feel good about working with.  Get everything in writing.  Finally, let that professional do their job.

Don’t choose some fly-by-night company that no one has ever heard of.  Due diligence is important on both sides: the estate professional and the client.

Ultimately, use your gut instinct to uncover the best professional for your needs and build a relationship based on trust.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Gears and Cogs

I had an unusual thought this morning over coffee and checking emails.  Having just spent months creating, writing, and working with a team of people to develop a new website for the American Society of Estate Liquidators® at www.ASELonline.com, I am keenly aware how each individual member of the team worked together, as a vital piece of the whole, in order to come up with a successful end result.  One person specializes in strategic writing, design, flow, another had graphic abilities, another technical, and more.  It was a vision I had, but this team came together to find a way to create it.

gears of an Oriental clock

It really takes an entire team to make a project succeed, like exposing the back of an antique mantle clock and viewing how all the gears and cogs work together in sync.  I’ve always secretly wondered how the gears all worked together.  As imperfect humans, with myself at the top of the list, we do make mistakes.  Sometimes, many mistakes.  We may not communicate clearly to the teammates working on another part of the project.  Our brains work differently, and yet, we expect our teammates to understand what we mean, as if they can read our minds.

While each of us has our own vision for their portion, when you put all the parts together, it usually needs to be tweaked until the best version is attained for the whole project.  Such is life … always a work in progress and always with the help of others.

Why is it that we tend to only think about our part of the team?  We concentrate so heavily on what is our responsibility that we fail to see what the others are doing and the tremendous efforts they make.  No single part or component would work successfully without the others, just like the gears in that mantle clock.

Developing the website taught me two things:

  • each of us has special gifts and talents, and
  • when put together with other people’s gifts and talents, we can create something marvelous.

But our part alone is just a piece laying there, a simple gear that won’t turn because there are no other gears or cogs to drive it into motion.  The lone piece would simply not work unless put together with someone else’s piece.

Our vision towards almost anything in life really needs to be extended to include the value and work of someone else’s skills and ability to see and imagine.  This is difficult to master.  When  working together, each brings to the table something that we can’t contribute by ourselves.

Last week I was in an estate documenting for an appraisal.  When the heir saw me in front of the mantle examining the mantle clock, they quickly approached to tell me how old and valuable it was.  “It is certainly old,” I said, “but there is a problem.  It doesn’t work because some of the gears have fallen off and are missing.  If the clock doesn’t work, even due to a tiny piece missing, the value will fall significantly.”

Little did I realize that a few days later, that statement would apply directly to me.  I came to understand how our special team became my gears and cogs, driving me forward toward a long-dreamed vision.  Sometimes all it takes is one tiny little piece to make it all work flawlessly.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Living in an ever-changing world, I have concerns about the industry I love so much.  It has so many excellent qualities:

  • helping others during very challenging times,
  • serving the community in a positive way,
  • making a difference in the lives of those who are suffering,
  • offering a skill set not many people have,
  • guiding people towards trusted resolutions, to name a few.

But as with everything else in life, it has changes too.  You’ve got the good in the industry and the not-so-good.  While I have tremendous respect for my colleagues, and they have respect for me, there are many “Estate Experts” that are suddenly popping up in the marketplace.  I need this blog to circulate and help guide people away from these pop-up companies who claim to be experts, and are no such thing!

I am in a unique position, receiving close to 1,000 emails a week regarding the industry, sad stories, and complaints against companies I have never heard of and neither has anyone else.  Having written books and many articles, people gravitate towards me for answers.  I am all too happy to provide answers, as long as they can handle the truth.

Friends, you must be careful out there!  There is good and bad in every aspect of life; that includes all occupations, mine included.

  • Do not be fooled by fancy talk, or a “friend of a friend” who will give you a discount.  Talk is cheap.  A professional turns it all into action and gets it done correctly.
  • Don’t be persuaded to use someone whose commission is lower than a true professional.  You often get what you pay for.
  • Don’t feel compelled to use Aunt Martha’s cousin’s brother who “dabbles” in antiques.  They will not know how to maximize the proceeds, in your best interest.
  • Don’t just call someone out of the yellow pages or internet.  Know what you have, then find a way to sell using the best possible option for your possessions.
  • Don’t take the easy or cheap way because it will BOOMERANG and bite you in the rear.
  • Don’t pile up your great grandmother’s estate jewelry and take it to just any jeweler on the corner.  Why would you sell yourself short, when there are professionals who know what they are doing and will compare, communicate, negotiate, and sell it for the highest $$.
  • Don’t give away or throw away anything until a REAL professional walks through your door and advises you on your possessions.  Knowledge is power.  Know the facts.
  • Beware of “Cash Paid” advertisements.  Know who you are dealing with, or you may get low-ball offers.
  • Beware of searching on the internet, unless you know exactly the right way to search.  Know what an item actually sells for, not asking prices.
  • Before any property leaves your home/estate, RESEARCH and make sure you have done your due diligence in finding a reputable company to help you and guide you.
  • Ask for references, credentials, memberships, etc.  Then, CHECK them.
  • Beware of negative online complaints.  Yes, some are justified, but others are not.  Sometimes an upset client can post a negative comment because an item didn’t sell for as much as they expected.  That isn’t fair to mar a liquidator’s reputation.
  • Finally, don’t ignore your instinct.  It’s a powerful tool that tells you when something is good or amiss.

These tips are among the best advice I could ever offer.  They come with decades of experience and a heavy heart for those who have been taken advantage of.

Remember that the majority of estate liquidators are very good at what they do, have a deep passion for the industry, and help clients move forward with their lives.

It only takes one bad apple to soil the bunch.  If you are careful, you’ll choose the best fit for you!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

You Probably Don’t Need an Estate Liquidator IF …

Whether you are faced with the grief-filled process of cleaning out your parents’ estate or downsizing to move to a smaller house, an estate liquidator can be the best investment to save time, maximize profit, and keep you from pulling out your hair.

An estate sale professional conducts a public sale to liquidate the household goods.  This sale is normally held on site, but can be held at a warehouse or storefront of the liquidator, especially when a neighborhood does not allow an estate sale.  The estate liquidator is also well-versed in selling online.

The liquidator is responsible for everything from organizing, researching, pricing, advertising, handling employees and attendees during the sale, and the entire client management process.  They deal with just about every detail from their end to conduct a successful sale.

Estate sale professionals like a wide variety of items to offer the public, to ensure a good sale.  This variety acts like a magnet for the public, so if a potential client has only a couple of common upholstered chairs, an old bed, and a lifetime supply of plastic storage containers, an estate liquidator will not be the right fit.

While each liquidator has an idea in their minds about what would make a good sale in their region, most like a mix of items ranging from jewelry and decorative items, to artwork, oddities, collectibles and antiques, cars, and so much more.  After you sign a contract with your liquidator, nothing should be removed to be courteous and fair to the liquidator, or fees will be imposed to make up for the income the liquidator was expecting but has now lost.

To add clarity to the ongoing education of a liquidator’s role and when to call for their services, this listing will serve as your guide.

You probably don’t need to call an estate liquidator IF …

  1. You already removed the best items and all that’s left is low-value items.
  2. The family is still removing things from the estate, and isn’t finished yet.
  3. You allow friends and family to take things from the estate, leaving little behind for the liquidator to have a productive sale.
  4. You haven’t decided what you want to sell or keep yet.
  5. Many of the items you want to sell are in disrepair: broken, re-glued, fractured, bent, stained.
  6. The property is unsafe: no electricity, water, heat, air conditioning, or structural problems.
  7. You are not prepared to sign a contract which is mutually binding.
  8. You are not yet emotionally ready to let go and let the professional commence work.
  9. You remove whatever the family doesn’t want from the house and pile it in the garage.
  10. You think that all old items are very valuable.
  11. You want to remain in the house while the sale is going on.
  12. Your internet search for prices really aren’t values, but simply asking prices.
  13. You are using old insurance appraisals for “values” that are no longer valid.
  14. You think to yourself, “This should have been donated or discarded long ago,” and you’re probably right.
  15. You really need to call a junk man.  Many items found in estates are beyond usability.  Some items have been badly damaged, have an odor, or are in bad condition and should be discarded.

Many estate liquidators also like for clients to not throw anything away until they walk through your estate and take their own inventory.  They may be able to sell some things for you, even if your belongings are not a good fit for an estate sale.  They know what can sell, what’s hot, what’s not, and the prices that items will sell for.

Remember: a professional liquidator is worth their weight in gold!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

The Value of Kindness in a Value-Less Estate

The old song “Break It to Me Gently” reminds us that any time bad news is coming, we’d rather hear it gently and compassionately than point-blank and hurtful. Many times in life we will be the deliverer of, and recipient of, less than stellar news. How we deliver it, and how we receive it, is a testament to our personal and professional character.

When we are called into an estate, we walk in completely objective, prepared to tell our clients the truth of what we see. The trouble is that sometimes our clients do not want to hear what we have to say. They may feel, because they paid so much for an item, it should have increased in value. They may feel that if they have an antique, it must be worth a fortune.

We hear the stories of “mom always said this was worth a fortune.” The family folklore gets juicier with the passage of time; therefore the items must be super valuable. How difficult to be the bearer of bad news, but we must remind our clients politely not to shoot the messenger.

Sometimes, hopefully not too often, we hear stories of estate professionals who are simply too direct or gruff with elderly clients. These professionals have lost their sensitivity somewhere along the way. Some might insult the client accidentally or intentionally. Some slam down the values of their items. Some say “no one would ever want this stuff” or “you don’t have anything good enough for me to sell.” What these professionals have forgotten is the art of being tactful and kind.

It is professional and right to be honest and upfront. It is good to guide the client to a place where they have some solutions, even if you yourself cannot help them.

It is the “best of the best” in this industry that can do all of these things with a kind face and a gentle heart.

There are ways to lower the boom without lowering the spirit. Certainly there are those who feel being blunt is the way to go. These believe that our clients need a firm voice and words to make them understand their possessions are not going to be worth much, since we know their expectations are too high. After all, some people are harder to convince than others; you would be correct in that thinking.

But as with all things in life, there is a balance that we professionals must once again recapture, which many of us have forgotten because we are all pressed for time and we multitask at every turn. We’re tired and always in search of that perfect estate. Sometimes you get it. Sometimes you don’t.

Food for thought: How would each of us like to be spoken to if we were faced with selling our own possessions or the possessions of a parent? What if the items a professional slammed belonged to our moms?

It is far easier to see our side of things because we do this every day. It is far more difficult to take a moment and step outside of ourselves, to see how it feels on the flip side. This one act will separate you from the mediocre and make you among the elite in this industry.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Did You Say “Cockroaches?”

The voice on the phone was very shaky and distressed.  Through her tears, I heard her say, “Doing business with people in your industry is like doing business with cockroaches.”  A knife to my gut would have hurt less.  Those words were truly cutting and very upsetting to those of us in the industry who put our hearts and souls into assisting our clients.

This woman called my office to complain about an estate sale company, one which was completely unfamiliar.  I own and direct The American Society of Estate Liquidators® and complaints regarding our members, who uphold a Code of Ethics, are minimal.  When a complaint is made on our members, usually it is easily remedied, like replacing a widget that was accidentally sold.

Phone calls like this woman’s are starting to come in at an alarming rate, and the complaints are serious.  So serious, some of them are criminal in nature, and law enforcement and the court system become involved.

For someone like me who has done my best to pave the way for ethics, integrity, and high standards in the estate sale business, this is a massive black eye.  It hurts personally.  Some of the customer complaints include not getting paid after a sale is completed.  Liquidator complaints include clients who pull items from a sale, during the sale, when they see how low the prices are and don’t want to pay the liquidator’s imposed fees.

I could never defend estate sale professionals who run an unethical business and cause these people to fall to pieces emotionally.  This is not why the “good ones” went into the business.

We went into business to make a positive difference in the lives of our clients.  We strive to uplift them and their emotional turmoil.

However, I will defend the good estate sale professionals who work from a thorough contract, have explained everything to the client with the client’s agreement, and simply do their best to get the highest proceeds from the sale.

The estate sale professional has the right to earn a good living; the work is back-breaking, disassembling a lifetime of accumulation in just a few short days.  In some cases, the clients expect far too much.  They have not yet awakened to the fact that our economy is weak, despite what the news is promising.

The estate sale professional has the right to charge a fees or commission for items clients give away, take or remove from the sale, even though the clients have signed a contract that they will not do so.  This is taking income from the professional.  This leaves them with egg on their face when the public arrives and screams at them because advertised items are gone.  This is simply not fair.

Courtesy goes both ways!

When searching for an estate sale professional, or any professional service, the responsibility falls on the consumer to research them thoroughly and interview several.

Ask associates and business owners, such as estate planning attorneys and realtors, in your community.  Check Angie’s List and BBB.  Check professional organizations, if they belong to them.  Check references.  Do your due diligence.  Then you will select an estate sale professional who will do a wonderful job for you … not a “cockroach.”

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

How Did You Become “The Estate Lady?”

It is a question I am asked often; each time I have to smile to myself, knowing the course of events that transpired to get me into the estate business and evolve with it.  Allow me to preface this by saying I don’t think I chose “it”.  I think “it” chose me.

Wilma was 103 years old.  While I had dabbled in the buying and selling of antiques back then (25 years ago), she had heard about me and invited me over for advice on what to do with her beautiful European residential contents upon her death.  She said she was “ready for the hole” which I found amazingly blunt, but she was honest and genuinely worried about her things, as to not be a burden to anyone once she was gone.  She had outlived her husband and children.  We agreed I would return in a couple of weeks to discuss options, etc.

Upon my return, her beautiful home looked like a carnival had just trampled through it.  You can imagine my horror when it was clear to see that her neighbors and so-called friends came over and helped themselves, breaking fine rare German figurines in the process and leaving debris behind for her to clean up.  They had purchased her sterling, antique furniture, antique clocks, etc. from her for a dollar, $5, a few bucks here and there, and her possessions were worth a small fortune … tens of thousands at that time.

It was, for me, a moment of truth – an epiphany, if you will – about the inner workings of human nature.  Truly, I was disgusted by what I saw, and felt both a deep sorrow for her, as well as a disdain for the people who had done this to her.  How could they do that?  We’re supposed to protect those who can’t protect themselves.  From my best recollection, I lifted a silent prayer thinking about all the Wilma’s out there that needed advocates, to protect them from these unscrupulous people who knew her for decades and still totally took advantage of her, with little regard for their actions.  It was unconscionable.

She asked me if she had been taken advantage of, and I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Yes.  I am afraid so.”  She nodded, knowing what had really happened and thanked me for my honesty.  What she said next was what led me to this industry and to my life’s calling.  “We old folks really need an estate lady like you!”  And right there, sitting on her remaining green velvet antique sofa, the light bulb went off and I received my life’s instructions.  “The Estate Lady” was born.  I quit a cushy pharmaceutical job and went to work for myself, figuring if I was working this hard for them, I might as well work this hard for myself.  It was a tremendous leap of faith.

From that moment to this, there have been many, many obstacles, plenty of tears for what I see in the industry (both good and bad), lots of sweat equity and even blood spilled due to its physical demands.  My back is riddled with arthritis and my once beautiful hands show the signs of hard work.  BUT … I’ve never once looked back.  I’ve never regretted a thing.  I am not rich, but in so many ways I am, because my clients allowed me into their lives.  They shared their secrets and pain, and somehow, no matter how small or large, my compassion, skills, and presence made a difference in their lives.  That is what allows me sleep like a baby every night, knowing I have served so many to the best of my ability.  It is the driving force of my spirit.

If you know someone interested in pursuing this industry, share this link with them: http://www.aselonline.com/index.html.  They can expect lots of hard work with little glamour.  But if they are looking for a career in an industry that serves so many, and are willing to work hard and earn a decent income, it becomes a win-win.

Not everyone is cut out to do this kind of work.  It takes the kindness and compassion of a minister, combined with the grit of John Wayne.  If this sounds like you, I would encourage you to explore it.

I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life!

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

Even the Devil Uses the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval®

Throughout the course of my career, I have worked my fanny off (like most of you) trying to accomplish my calling:  make a positive contribution to the estate industry, educate, advocate and resolve difficult issues for my clients, earn an impeccable reputation, and do it all honestly and ethically.  After 23 years, I feel pretty confident I have achieved many of my goals with the help of some great team members and my faith.

What makes me steaming mad are those individuals who flat out steal logos and intellectual property that is not theirs.  No conscience, no care or concern.  They don’t care that they steal what they didn’t earn.  They do it with no forethought of hurting others, most especially themselves in the long run, because the truth will come out eventually.  Those who know me would tell you I’d be the first to teach, to help, to answer questions if I can.  Stealing information or logos is a huge no-no.

Many of you may not know that I own and direct The American Society of Estate Liquidators®. http://www.aselonline.com This professional organization is for those who want to learn the estate industry, and offers educational courses and a place for experienced liquidators to learn how to build their business.  It is a safe haven for ethical liquidators and we have worked hard to set the standard for the industry.

ASEL Logo the one

The problem is some people don’t want to play nice.  People steal logos without paying dues.  Some don’t care about ethics until they get caught or fined.  It’s not just about me … it’s about you too because many will attempt to take advantage of you, or someone you know, in the future.  I often wonder how they sleep at night.

Here’s my point: Each industry has its good and bad, even estate liquidation.  With companies that have no training/education or just popped up, and no one knows anything about them, you (the consumer) needs to research them carefully to make sure what their site says about them is accurate.  Just because some company creates a website and add logos and makes claims, doesn’t mean they are legitimate or ethical.  Follow up with them and pay attention to red flags.

Contact your local BBB and ask questions.  Look for UNresolved complaints.  Search online for the company name and any complaints or reviews.  Ask for and check several recent references.  Ask people in the community who is the best of the best.  Do not be swayed by a company that is cheaper, for you often get what you pay for!  Go for integrity, trust, ethics, gut instinct.

If the company is hesitant to answer questions, doesn’t call you back in a timely manner, doesn’t give you a polished and trustworthy feeling, then that little voice inside is probably telling you something.  Listen to it.

So you see that even the devil uses the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval®.  Anyone can steal that seal or logo.  But not everyone can back it up with education, training, credibility, experience, and know-how.  A professional liquidator is going to do the right thing for the client, answer any and all questions, maintain confidentiality, guide you to know what is best for your given situation, and communicate clearly each step of the way.

If you find out they are lying about being part of a professional organization, or anything else, don’t walk away … RUN!

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.