What To Ask When You Are Hiring An Estate Sale Company?
We hope you find this information useful!
1. Does your company conduct estate sales full or part-time?
Approximately 80% of the companies in the Baltimore/Washington Area that advertise they are professional estate sale companies with many years of experience are actually just part-time “hobbiests” with an interest in the business. Don’t just ask how long they have been in business – ask them to show you proof they are who they say they are. A full-time estate sale firm should be able to show you a professional website with a list of past and future sales. There are very few full time companies in the area and these firms do sales at least a couple times a month. Estate Liquidator’s website shows you every sale we conducted last year and we have references for each one.
2. Will you have labor on-site to help lift large or heavy items?
Look at most estate sale advertisements any weekend and you will normally see things such as “Bring help to lift furniture, we cannot assist you with these types of purchases ". This WILL NOT get your large items sold and it’s simply a way for companies to either be lazy or save labor costs. Large items like furniture, exercise and office equipment are already a tough sell these days – not offering help with such purchases is unacceptable. Not only does Estate Liquidators have dedicated staff at each sale to assist customers with large purchases – we also offer local delivery. Again, most folks don’t own a truck or have any interest in hauling a bedroom set home unless you make it easy for them.
3. How do we know what our items sold and for how much?
Estate Liquidators keeps a detailed sales log at each sale for every item purchased during the weekend. Hiring a company that simply tells you the total dollar amount that was taken in during the sale without justifying how they came up with this figure is unacceptable. This sales log is also a very important part of the accounting of the estate that can carry liability. Many of the expensive purchases will be tax-exempt transactions by dealers or collectors with Maryland Tax Exempt IDs (both state and federal regulations must be met when it comes to tax liability for the estate and you could be liable).
4. How extensively does your company advertise my sale online?
The days of print advertising are gone. A successful advertising campaign is all online (probably just how you searched for a company to conduct your sale). Most companies will say they advertise online but be sure to ask to just what extent they actually do. We have been liquidating estates online and onsite for over 15 years. Our Facebook page has over 1000 fans who like to attend all of our sales. We pay a significant subscription fee to multiple websites that cater to just estate sale attendees. We advertise on all local online classified sites, online newspapers, and many hobby/club/collector sites for specific items in the estate. Our company website has one of the largest exposures in the area and is constantly updated to feature our upcoming events. We also offer online presale for any item in the estate which we feel has a much better chance of selling than during a couple days of walk-in traffic. Our eBay transactions to date are, by far, the most extensive in the entire Washington/Baltimore Region. We have over 50,000 successful eBay transactions totaling more than $1,000,000 in total sales.
5. Is your company a licensed, insured & bonded estate sale firm?
We get this question often. The state of Maryland does not require any licensing to operate a liquidation company. They do however, require ALL BUSINESS ENTITIES to have a Certificate of Incorporation and be “In Good Standing” with the state at all times. All on-site sales done in Maryland are required to collect 6% sales tax on all purchases and hang their certificate of business during the sale. Bonding indemnifies a business against their own employees. What is important is the coverage for any unexpected issues with customers. Estate Liquidators is a registered Maryland Limited Liability Corporation and carries a significant amount of Liability Insurance. We collect the required Maryland Sales Tax at all events and file all documents in a timely manner with all state and federal regulators. Any company that does not comply with these regulations is operating illegally and the estate can be exposed to liability.
6. Will your company provide referrals by past clients?
We will always provide a list of referrals for you to speak with regarding our past performances. Unlike other companies, these are actual, recent sales we have conducted and the link to each specific sale can still be found in our recent sales section on our website.
7. What forms of payment will you accept during the sale?
Estate Liquidators accepts cash, debit cards, credit cards, and checks that meet our requirements. Credit & Debit Card purchases will make-up a very large part of each sales total purchases. Any company that does not take plastic will have a significant, negative impact on the sales total.
8. What happens to any unsold items at the conclusion of the sale?
There will be always be some leftovers at the conclusion of the sale. Estate Liquidators will remove any of the items and clean the residence to "Broom Clean" at no extra cost in most cases. Some situations may require an additional trash removal fee which will be determined at the initial consultation upon reviewing the estate.
9. Should the family members of the estate be present during the sale?
Estate Liquidators understands it is human nature for family members to have emotional attachments to items in the estate and want to give suggestions on how we should conduct the sale. Often times, they even would like to be present during the set-up and sale of the liquidation. In order for us to do a professional job and maximize profits for the sale, we require our clients to fully entrust our background, knowledge, and experience and let us handle everything from start to finish. We ask the house be vacant of all occupants at least a week or two before the sale dates and that we have a key for access anytime. Owners who are present during the sale have a negative impact on the way the sale is run and it can also be quite an emotional experience for them. This does not mean we do not always have an open communication line for any questions or concerns you may have at any time during the process – it is your estate until it is sold – you are the boss. We can assure you, for every concern you have, we are thinking about ten times as many issues regarding the procedures necessary to make your sale a success. Call, e-mail, or text us anytime –once we are under contract, we are thinking of nothing but how we can better take the burden off you!
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