The Many Hats of an Estate Liquidator

I first published this article on The American Society of Estate Liquidators® (ASEL) website in October 2014.  I thought you’d appreciate the information as you select a professional estate liquidator to help you downsize or clean out a parent’s home.  If you’ve already used an ASEL liquidator, I’d love to hear your comments on the many hats they wear.

Many Hats Estate LiquidatorMany people are under the impression that an estate liquidator is someone who puts on glorified yard sales.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Professional estate liquidators wear many hats on any given day with a common goal for their client as well as for themselves:

  • to maximize sale proceeds,
  • lighten the burden of our client families,
  • treat each other with respect, and
  • help our clients move forward.

In the process of doing so, we must possess a great deal of knowledge to guide our clients along the way.  We don’t just organize and set up for a sale.  We:

  • clean items that haven’t seen the light of day in decades,
  • tirelessly research these items,
  • make calls to private buyers that we know will be interested in a particular item or collection,
  • figure out the best way to set up to maximize the sale,
  • price items appropriately,
  • coordinate sending high-end items to proper selling venues,
  • coordinate all crews,
  • manage our clients, and the list goes on.

Often the client is not aware of just how much back-breaking work and time is invested before the door ever opens for the estate sale.  We take 50, 60, 70 years of accumulation and sort through it, research it, clean it, organize it and sell it within a week or so.  That’s amazing in and of itself!   It is up to us to educate our clients so they do understand that we truly earn our commission and do our very best for them.

Below you find just a sampling of what professional estate liquidators engage in every single day, early mornings to late evenings, and seven days a week.

We have bled, sweat, and cried our way through some estates, and dealt with poor working conditions too.   There isn’t much we’re afraid of; we tackle the task at hand like a linebacker.

We wear this challenging badge with honor because we love what we do, no matter how much we get beat up in the process.

Detective – We sort through years of long forgotten items that have been crammed in boxes and cubbies.  Often family cannot find important papers (titles, Will) or a sentimental item, but many times we find them.  We know where to look, have a good idea of where things could be hidden, and we know what these items are, or how to find out.  This is the fun part!

Archeologist – We dig and dig and dig.  By the end of the day, we are covered in dirt.  We unearth one layer at a time searching for old artifacts and treasures.  We handle carefully and lovingly the items we uncover which have value or meaning.  This is painstaking, but necessary.

Magician – While it appears to the client that we made it all disappear as if by magic, we know the levels of complexity it takes to empty the estate.  “Can you do a sale this weekend?”  There is no magic.  Only hard work, the ability to professionally multi-task, knowing the right people, and selecting the right staff.

Bellhop – Who’s carrying the family baggage; the client, you, or both?  Stay focused and advise as necessary.  Our ears are bent with family lore (and who did what to whom)!

Firefighter – Estate professionals put out fires every day, whether it comes from prospective buyers or the sellers, or anything in between, including the emotions our clients go through.

Police/Law Enforcement – We keep peace and order in these estates, enforce our ethical policies, “law down the law” according to the rules for how each sale should be run.  These are in place to ensure a pleasant estate sale day, encourage good behavior, and keep the flow moving.

Counselor/Clergy – We listen, validate, encourage, support, and hear confessions and stories.  It is part of our job to offer support, including emotional support within reason.

Accountant/Administrator – Pay the bills/employees, handle the contracts, handle brokering details, tally estate proceeds; we do it all.

Umpire – Calling “safe” and “out” for not only attendees and clients, but also monitoring our staff conduct and ourselves as well.

Train Conductor – We prevent derailment, get everyone on-board, and get the clients where they need to be.

Psychic – Can you predict human behavior based on all of your estate experience?  Yes, you can.  We’re very good at reading people and understanding motives.

Nurse/Doctor – Not only do we help heal many of our clients who are heavy laden and would have a very difficult time going through the process alone, we must remember the most important rule:  First, do no harm.  Clients come first.  In the literal sense, we have all mastered first aid, as we bleed in nearly every estate!

Construction worker – We build this business from the ground up and create a very strong, honest/ethical foundation to weather the storms.  If the foundation is not strong, we need to rebuild, remodel, tear down, or bring in a new addition.

Referee – Keeping the peace on all sides, at all times.

These are just a few of the many hats estate sale professionals wear on any given day, but there are many more that often go unnoticed;  employer, exterminator, garbage man, dumpster gal, recycler, haul/drop-off person, organizer, companion, cleaning service, broker, miner, etc.

How much can one truly professional estate liquidator accomplish?  It’s all in a day’s work!

©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.

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Published in: on July 19, 2016 at 10:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Real Value of Our Antiques and Heirlooms

We each have items in our homes that came from a loved one, passed down through the years.  To us, these items are special, unique, and valuable.  Sometimes, these items are even more special, unique, and valuable because of our feelings towards the loved one who gave it to us.

If you can, place those feelings to the side for a moment.  We really need to have a fresh understanding about the market, the economy, and what our heirlooms are really worth.  As an appraiser, I come to the table as an objective third party who has the ability to look at items through new, yet somewhat critical eyes, much like a detective.

I see flaws others may not.

I see condition issues others may not.

I see that someone drilled a hole through the bottom of a Ming Dynasty vase because they wanted it to be a lamp (ugh!).

I see that someone uses 21st century screws to reinforce an 18th century piece.

However, there is more to it than that; we must dig a little deeper to get to the crux of the matter.

The truth is that in today’s market, a c.1830s bird’s eye maple English chest will sell for far less than a “Made in China” piece you can buy at Rooms to Go or IKEA.  I saw it with my own eyes at an auction recently.  The gorgeous English chest sold for $100 and the black lacquer Oriental chest made 30 days ago sold for $350.

WHY?

Gone are the days of truly caring about quality.

dark traditional ornate bedroom

Gone are the days of the younger generations wanting traditional furnishings.

In are the days of how the item looks and functions.  Maybe not for all of us.  This trend is picking up speed and we see more of it as each day passes.  Size and space also enter into the equation, since we are in the middle of a major simplification trend.  Both our homes and our furnishings are getting smaller.

I address the older generations when I say this and I hope it will be realized:

Dark brown furniture gives the younger generation the willies just to look at it.

dark heavy china cabinet

Boomers don’t want any more of it, and are trying to downsize and let go of the dark heavy furnishings, as we speak!  Being surrounded by heavy, large, dark furniture is not what people want today, let alone my daughter’s generation.  She doesn’t want it now and she will not want it later.  It won’t pay to pressure her or store items for her.

It doesn’t matter how old it is.

It doesn’t matter what you paid for it.

It doesn’t mean anything to a stranger or the public who come to purchase it.

If we don’t want it and our children don’t want it, others will not want it either.

dark heavy dining room

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and all families are different.  But if we dare to peek into the future, what will become of the older, dark furnishings in 2 years? 5 years? 15 years?

Those of us in the industry have seen a steady decline since 2008 so it is no surprise to us.  It’s alright that not everyone will accept what we have to say, but at least, listen to the market.  It has spoken loud and clear!

©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

Published in: on May 6, 2016 at 10:20 am  Comments (5)  
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Think Before You Throw!

Do it for the earth, do it for extra space, and do it for your pocket!

Donating, recycling, and selling are the way to go when downsizing or handling an estate.  Selling will provide cash for your unwanted items, especially if you have a professional help you.  Donating can also provide a tax deduction or help a worthy cause.  Use your imagination when deciding where things could go, other than black trash bags!  Can someone use your items in some form or fashion?  This is the ultimate in recycling.

Remember the following when faced with thinning out your home’s contents or when you may not have enough for an estate sale:

  • Have the neighbors in for free household chemicals, garden/yard tools, etc.
  • Create a donation network by discussing what you have to give.
  • Keep watch for charity drives in your community.
  • Web search for places to sell or donate items.
  • Gazelle.com, techforward.com, and others offer varying compensation for electronics.
  • You can recycle computers at Good Will or Geek Squad.
  • Paper, cardboard, and scrap metal are commodities that are traded.  Find a buyer locally.  Sites like boxcycle.com and usedcardboardboxes.com pay cash for boxes.
  • Scrap metal and other household metals, photo frames, etc. are wanted by artists.  If you take scrap metal to the right place, you can end up with some $$ in your wallet.
  • Charities are in a funding crisis.  Paper, books, games and toys help daycares, senior centers, and after-school programs.  Give them a call; they are happy to give you a wish list.
  • Alzheimer’s facilities are always looking for clean linens, towels, nice dolls, stuffed bears, etc.
  • Many religious organizations/groups set up homes for refugees, domestic abuse victims, disabled adults, etc.  They need many everyday items and toiletries that you no longer need.
  • Old sheets and towels, leashes, and pet bowls are very much needed by local pet shelters.
  • Check with local drama programs (high school, college) for their wish list.  Some will welcome “vintage” clothing and accessories, and even paints and fabrics for prop and set design.
  • Inventory the home before buying materials.  Garbage bags, boxes, and cleaning supplies are normally already in the house.

Remember, one person’s trash is another man’s treasure!

With my prediction of millions of households being liquidated in the next few decades, the very thought of the amount of trash the U.S. will generate is mind-boggling.  Do your part to help others and the environment too!

What other resources do you know about in your area for donating, selling, and recycling?  Feel free to share ideas in the comment section below.

©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

Published in: on April 11, 2016 at 10:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Perils of Preposterous Pricing, Part 2

Older “die-hard” collectors are passing away and selling their massive collections all at once.  So who is going to buy all these items?  Some will be sold to today’s collectors, though far fewer in number than serious collectors years ago.  Hence, these collections are saturating the market, driving prices and values lower.  Too much supply, not enough demand.

Let’s return to the seller wanting to sell items they believe are valuable just because mom paid a fortune for them.  They believe what they have is special and unique.  Most of the time, figurines, china, collector’s plates, glassware, Victorian furniture and the like have saturated the market because millions of our moms and dads are passing away.  Boomers are downsizing.  Generation X and Y don’t want these items.  Millennials are into themselves, not material possessions.  These younger generations collect virtually, not materially.

When an heir is looking to sell Lenox, Waterford, Hummel, Franklin Mint, Depression glass, antique furniture, large wardrobes, entertainment centers, and china hutches, the estate experts only have to show how very flooded the market is to get the consumers to understand that these items are now worth very little.

When I look on Ebay and see a “sterling silver lot of 50 grams,” I wonder why on earth one would attempt to sell it for $200 when it would barely get $30 with the current spot price of silver, unless it was a unique designer piece or desirable manufacturer.  Asking outrageous prices for items that are clearly not worth it any longer will backfire on the seller.

It is what it is.  No expert, myself included, can alter these trends of simplification, downsizing, and squeezing more bang out of a buyer’s buck than we already do.  The market is speaking and we need to listen.

Another issue?  Many people with a smart phone in their hand believe they are an expert.  I can assure you they are not.  They just Google over-inflated prices, unless they are wanting to buy.  If they are buyers, they search for the lowest possible prices in hopes of getting an item at a small cost.  These issues are just the tip of the iceberg for what experts are dealing with as they handle personal property while managing clients’ expectations.

It takes an expert many years to understand trends, observe patterns, know how to maximize value, and offer the best value for the client.  Do-it-yourselfers often do themselves a disservice by not enlisting the assistance of a professional who is experienced in all of the above.

©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.

Letting Go of Our Possessions is Hard

Most of us enjoy hearing the words, “Till death do us part,” during a wedding ceremony, where the new couple is floating in bliss and envision being by each other’s side until death separates them.  From my perspective, I see people who have a very passionate relationship with their material possessions, sometimes more so than with each other.  It almost appears that they believe they can take their possessions with them when they leave earth.

For over two decades, I have tried to figure out why people have such a difficult time letting go.  Often it’s the Depression Era generation that has accumulated the most stuff.  Their parents did not have much and probably possessed mostly utilitarian items during that era.  The Depression Era generation absorbed what their parents owned.  The Boomers have much more stuff to deal with, but they have only so much space to keep things.

Here are some thoughts on why people hold on to so much.  Where do you see yourself in these thoughts?

  • You just never know when I’m going to need this.
  • There are so many uses for this possession.
  • If I hold onto it long enough, it will become valuable.
  • It is already old, so it must be valuable.
  • I did without as a child; I will not do without again.
  • It was a gift and I will honor the giver by keeping it.
  • The more I leave the kids, the more they will have.
  • I worked very hard for these things and I will pass them down.
  • The things bring comfort and familiarity.
  • All these things make me feel close to my parents.
  • My children will feel loved by me when I’m gone, because I left them all these things.
  • I’m too overwhelmed to let it go (emotional attachment).
  • I’ll let the kids deal with the stuff after I’m gone.

Here’s the part where I try to put my clients at ease.  When in doubt, always have the contents of an estate viewed by a true professional prior to distributing or selling contents.  Most times, the heirs are not surprised to learn that much of what mom and dad amassed doesn’t have much value.  Some children feel the stuff may be “junk” and are pleasantly surprised to find that some pieces have significant value.  Family stories through the years can add to the anticipation that grandfather’s chair is valuable because it is old.  Yet, we know age is not the only determining factor of true value.

For every reason listed above, there is a counter-reason to let it go.

  • Many of your heirs won’t take as much as you would like to give them.
  • Boomer children already have houses full of stuff; adding more will only fuel marital strife.
  • Your younger generations appear to want very little but cash assets.
  • Leaving a huge burden for your children should not be your legacy.
  • Much of your stuff will be out of style and not genuinely desired by your heirs.
  • Your heirs may have different lifestyles and your stuff won’t fit those styles.
  • Many are trying to simplify their own lives, not add more stuff to clean and hold.
  • If you sell your stuff now, you can purchase other things you would truly enjoy.
  • These items were treasured by someone else, but not you and not now.

Holding on to possessions, for the sake of not wanting to let them go, can leave a negative impact on those left behind.  Gifting valuable items now is a beautiful way to pass along your treasures and watch your heirs enjoy them.  Making plans for the distribution of your possessions, while you are still in control of these decisions, is the best plan of action.

©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.

How to Stretch Your Hard-Earned Dollar

The advantages of shopping at estate sales and other great places

EstateSale

We’ve seen some interesting trends in the personal property market over the last few years.  Staggering statistics for the aging population means a tidal wave of residential contents, and a soft market has put a pinch on many wallets.  Couple this with millions downsizing, simplifying their lives, passing away, divorcing, moving out or the country, etc., and what you have is a healthy buyers market.

My parents used to tell me stories of when they were children during the Depression and what my grandparents did to stretch a buck.  Some of their stories were hard to believe, from grandpa making wine in the cellar and selling it for $1 a bottle, to my other grandfather buying thick sheets of leather to re-sole all the kids’ shoes because they could not afford new shoes.  Dad even mentioned that, as a small boy, he would run down to the butcher to get the bones before anyone else did, so grandma could make bread and bone broth with vegetables.

Regardless of economic times, we should learn an important lesson from the previous generation and be practical with our money so it goes farther for us, especially when we work so hard to earn it.

Estate sales, yard sales, auctions, and second-hand stores are all wonderful ways to stretch your hard-earned dollar.  Estate sales have fabulous items and the widest possible variety of anything you could want or need: furniture, decorative items, tools, jewelry, clothing, antiques, collectibles, etc. (and I do mean et cetera).

Many of these items are gently used or still new in the box.  The beauty of these sales is you never know what you might find; the thrill of the hunt is part of the excitement.

Negotiating your price is fun depending on the estate sale professional’s policies.  Please be fair-minded when negotiating.  After all, the family may very well need the financial assistance from the sale to help with mom’s illness or health care bills.

Here are some advantages for shopping at estate sales:

  • This is the ultimate in recycling
  • It helps a family just like yours
  • Designer/brand name items for much less than retail
  • Most furniture is made from hardwoods, and well made
  • Find out-of-print books for avid readers
  • Hard to find vintage items
  • Find unique items from around the world
  • Find older electronics and record albums
  • You may find a treasure/investment
  • A great place to find eclectic gifts
  • Something for everyone

Visit some estate sales this weekend and enjoy yourself!  You never know what you will find!

©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.

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 10:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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In Search of Sanity

I have a theory that people subconsciously believe their stuff will anchor them to this world.  They fill their homes with “treasures” as a sign of success; they “made it” in this life, in contrast to their parents who didn’t have much during the Depression.  They amass things out of fear, fear they will have to go without.  They may hold on to stuff out of guilt.  Finally, they may feel they are doing their children a favor by leaving them so many “valuable” things.

At some point, all this stuff becomes a proverbial monkey on someone’s back.  Someone will pull their hair out and cling to sanity trying to understand the estate settlement process.

I find it so interesting that people spend a lifetime collecting stuff, buying stuff, inheriting stuff, fighting over it, displaying it, talking about it … but they rarely make a plan for it.

Collections are one example.  Everybody collects something.  It’s exciting when you find a special piece you’ve been seeking for years.  When the word gets out that you collect cats, suddenly everyone buys you cats.  Metal, porcelain, glass, pottery … it doesn’t matter.  You get tons of cats whether you want them or not.  Next thing you know, you have 200 cats!

Let us not forget that we inherit items along the way, tripling (or more) what we already have.  Soon, our homes are bursting at the seams, our spouses are griping because of all the clutter, and our children let us know in no uncertain terms that they want nothing other than a ride to IKEA and cash, so they can buy what they want.

Every day, I am in multiple estates and I see all of our accumulations.  Some houses are neat and tidy, but the closets are bursting at the seams!  Things are strategically hidden!  Other homes are eclectic and interesting from world travels.  Still others are hoarders, thinking every possession is valuable, and they will not listen to the reasoning of a professional such as myself.

I can say with 100% certainty that we’re facing a major problem in this country as our seniors and boomers age and pass away.  Plain and simple, we just have too much stuff!  More is finding its’ way to the market every day as our elders die, and the boomers are getting the message to simplify their lives and let go of things that bog them down.

This simplification process has brought to the marketplace experts:

  • professional organizers
  • senior move managers
  • stagers
  • estate experts

Look for professionals who are trained, credentialed, belong to professional organizations, and have solid experience.  Start whittling down the years of stuff you no longer use or need.  Open up your space and let light in the house.  All my clients who have taken the downsizing plunge are thrilled they did it, and are now free to enjoy their lives.

As we make our way through our parents’ belongings, we also have our stuff to contend with at the same time.  It’s important to think ahead and have some kind of plan in place, whether giving/gifting in advance, or selling everything and buying only what you really need.  You will love the feeling of lightness.

Learn to let go.  Keep the next generation in mind as you are doing so.  It’s one of the best gifts you can give your family.

©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.

Estate Sale vs. Yard Sale

One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure.  What you may consider wonderful and unique, another may disagree with, but that’s the beauty in all sales.  Through the years, we have learned that many clients and prospective clients feel an estate sale and a yard sale are pretty much the same thing.  This is not the case; please read on.

Estate sales are a powerful way to empty a home, but they require knowledge, skill, and training to do so.  Estate sale professionals always look for a wide variety of estate items when deciding to accept and conduct an estate sale.  Since the public is invited into the physical estate for the actual sale, it is necessary to have this good variety of items to act as a magnet to attract buyers, who are interested in just about anything.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the entire contents of the home, but liquidators are looking for as much as possible to sell.

Yard sales are an entirely different venue to sell items, one that is far less complicated.  It is much smaller and contained, and its purpose is often just thinning out unwanted items.

Here is a definition of both sales:

An estate sale is a sale to dispose of a substantial portion of the items owned by a person who is recently deceased, or who must dispose of his or her personal property to facilitate a move.  Downsizing and divorce are also reasons why an estate sale might be needed.  Estate sales require skill and knowledge of a professional to sell the bulk of a household.

A yard sale/garage sale is an informal, irregularly scheduled event for the sale of used goods by private individuals at their home.  Sellers are not required to obtain business licenses.  Yard sales are held on the seller’s own premises to quickly get rid of used household or personal items (furniture, tools, clothing, etc.) at bargain basement prices.

An estate sale professional does not usually conduct yard sales.

There are many differences between these two sales.

An estate sale is professionally run, for a percentage of the proceeds, and the majority of items are not usually low in value.

A professional estate liquidator is often needed, due to the overwhelming scope of work required to handle the process in the best possible manner with the best possible results.  It is not unusual for this process to become completely overwhelming for those left behind, and the liquidator can often lift a huge burden from the family.

Remember too, that the professional estate liquidator has knowledge and experience with pricing personal property, knows how to research, has trusted resources, and is proficient at attracting the right estate sale buyers, based on what the estate offers.

Sometimes, families attempt to do things on their own by selling or giving away items, leaving only yard sale material.  By then, it is too late for the estate liquidator to offer a successful sale or maximize the proceeds because everything good is gone.

Reasons for an Estate Sale

While the most common reason for an estate sale is death, moving into another residence such as an assisted living facility, downsizing and/or divorce are other personal reasons someone will choose to have an estate sale.

  • In most cases, the children/heirs take what they want, but either don’t want the majority of the home’s contents or lack the space for it.
  • Sometimes a loved one’s will has specifications that all of the personal property be sold and the proceeds be divided equitably among the heirs.
  • To pay debts the estate has incurred, creditors will need to be paid during the settlement process.

Reasons for a Yard Sale

A yard sale thins out the home of unwanted or no-longer-used items.  The children have grown up and it’s time to purge the home in preparation for downsizing.  Toys, clothing, sports equipment, holiday items, etc. can be sold quickly and the remainder is easily donated.

Here is a comparative chart to view the estate sale vs. the yard sale, side by side.

Comparative Chart – Yard Sales vs. Estate Sales

©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.

Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 8:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Estate Items: What’s Hot and What’s Not?

As we head into the new year, we also head into continued uncertainty with our economy, among other challenges.  The past few years have left some battle scars on the personal property industry, and the economy is still in a weakened state.  We are witnessing the market become flooded with traditional furnishings.  One has to wonder:

  1. When will the market return?
  2. What is currently selling well, if traditional furnishings are selling low?

How I wish I had that crystal ball!  Since we don’t, we can only read the trends based on our experience.

This list is not all-inclusive, but just the highlights of the market.  Items on the “NOT selling well” list are still selling but only if prices have been significantly lowered by the seller/liquidator.

Just this week, we saw a fantastic antique English, curly maple chest of drawers sell for $150 at an auction.  A few years ago, that piece would have brought $1,000.

Please don’t blame the seller; this isn’t the seller’s fault.

The market is simply not bearing healthy prices on many items at this time.

This is the new normal.

What’s currently HOT and selling well?

  • Mid century furniture, some Danish modern, designer furniture from this era
  • Military items: Civil War to present day
  • Genuine and costume jewelry
  • Sterling silver/gold/platinum
  • Vintage toys
  • Record albums: classic rock, jazz, blues.  Not opera or classical yet.
  • Vintage electronics and stereos
  • Utilitarian items: housewares, cookware, kitchen ware, tools, camping, etc.
  • Used cars/boats
  • Vintage garden and patio items
  • Guns
  • Yard items/ornamental/garden tools

What’s NOT selling well?

  • Traditional “brown” furniture
  • Glassware: clear etched, cut crystal, pressed glass, etc.
  • China sets and painted porcelains
  • Victorian furniture, other dark heavy antique pieces
  • Holiday items/collections
  • Rugs: Persian, Oriental
  • Collector plates and figurines (Franklin Mint, Bradford Exchange, etc.)
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Common antiques
  • Dining room furniture, hutches
  • Print media: numbered prints, mass-produced art items

If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that things are always changing.  For now and for quite some time to come, these are the trends and predictions.  One day, this will change too; we just don’t know when.

©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.

Are You Leaving Behind a Gift or Guilt?

Are you leaving a gift or guilt for your loved ones?  A bounty or a burden?  It’s time to think about it.  Seriously.

Living or deceased, in about 90% of the cases I see, older adults are leaving a burden.  This is not criticism, but merely an observation.  I see older adults:

  • not thinning out or downsizing
  • not sorting through files from decades ago
  • not having old business/company paperwork shredded
  • not recycling magazines, catalogs, and newspapers that are piled high
  • not going through boxes that were packed when they moved in years prior
  • not sorting through closets which contain clothes not worn in years
  • not sorting through family photos (which means the children won’t know who’s in them)
  • not whittling down the kitchen’s abundance of glassware and cookware

In short, they are either unwilling or simply don’t have the energy to tackle this.  In either case, there is always professional assistance available to help; first, you have to want to do this.  Knowing human behavior, I think some of it is also avoidance.

If an older adult doesn’t want to do these things, what makes them think their kids or loved ones will want to do them?

I can tell you firsthand, they don’t.

We should start downsizing at 50 and keep doing a little each year, so what does pile up is manageable and never reaches that daunting level.  Here’s the hard-hitting reality of this blog: if you don’t do it now, you are leaving an overwhelming task for your children or loved ones to handle after you leave this place.  As a personal favor, please don’t do that.

One of the most horrible things I have ever heard is, “I’m leaving it for the kids to deal with.  I won’t be here.”  Many will consider this a very selfish way of thinking.

The children or loved ones we leave behind have very busy lives of their own.  They may still have children to raise and a full-time job.  They may be caring for other family members who are ailing.  It’s also possible they are up in age and not quite able to do the cleaning out themselves.  It is a task no one wants to tackle, especially when they happen to live 600 miles away and have to take time off work (often their personal vacation time) to clean out an estate.

If you could see what I see when they are in these homes putting in 110% effort with little progress, it is a sad sight to behold.  The legacy one intends to leave is not the one the children actually feel.  They feel sad, mad, and often have a dazed look on their faces as they complain that mom and dad had years to do this cleaning and never did.

“Why did they leave this for me?”

 One of the very best gifts or legacy you could leave your loved ones, is to begin the process of whittling down and clearing out, even if you have to hire help, or find trustworthy volunteers to do it.  You may not be there to see the relief and gratitude on their faces, but take it from one who knows.  It makes all the difference in the world to them.  They will truly appreciate your gift … and your legacy will live on.

©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.