Below are some questions we have been asked when interviewed by potential clients. You may want to consider some of these questions when you are shopping for an estate sale company.
Are you bonded? Yes.
Are you insured? Yes. There are several different kinds of insurance. The house must have homeowners insurance in effect during setup, sale and clean up. We have insurance that was created just for estate sale companies.
Do you have any hidden fees? Any fees would be as follows: our commission, advertising expenses, eBay fees, credit card machine fees, dumpster and clean-out fees. Not all fees are applicable to every sale.
What type of payment can customer's pay with? We accept credit cards, debit cards, checks and good old fashioned cash!
Am I responsible for any non payment problems with credit cards or checks? Nope! That's our problem. And it's not a big problem at all.
How are items priced at the sale? We price the items for what they will sell for, not necessarily what they are worth. After all an item is only worth what someone will pay for it. It does no good for us to price things higher then they will sell for, you'll just be stuck with the item after the sale and that doesn't help you.
How many employees will be at a sale? The number of staff we have at your sale will depend on the size of the house. There will be enough there to efficiently run the sale. Our employees are wonderful! We help customer's carry their bags or items to the car if they need help. We often will help them load larger items. Sometimes our helping the customer move larger items has made the sale. Many customers are amazed at the friendliness of our staff and willingness to help them carry their purchases to their cars. Our customers love that we have shopping baskets for them to use.
How long have you been doing estate sales? We started Integrity Estate Sales in June 2004. This is an important question. It's not how long have you been in business, it's how long have you specifically been doing estate sales. Adding up the number of years everyone on your staff has worked or gone to estate sales is NOT doing estate sales. A "collective" number is NOT a number you should feel comfortable with. If I were to answer the how long have you been in business, the number of years would be much higher. However, you are hiring someone to do an estate sale and that experience is what you want.
Have you ever done sales under a different company name? No, we have always done sales under Integrity Estate Sales. Why is this question important? Because when a company gets a bad reputation they change their name and continue doing business.
Are you an antique dealer with a booth or a store? Do you buy items to resell? We are not antique dealers, we do not have a booth or a store. We sell items on eBay for our clients, if needed. We believe our purpose is to sell the items to our customers, not to keep them for ourselves. We believe having a booth or a store is a conflict of interest.
How do you advertise for the sale?
- Ads in local newspapers
- Our website and Estatesales.net
- Flyers to neighbors informing them of increased traffic
- Upcoming Sales sheets passed out at our sales;
Do you do presales for the family? What about to dealers? We will do a presale for the family if requested when the contract is signed. We DO NOT do presales to dealers! Everyone has a fair chance at our sales.
Should the house be up for sale before or after the sale? We recommend listing the house on the market a couple days before the sale. We recommend the realtor have flyers with information about the house available. If you feel you must list the house before the estate sale, make sure you schedule the estate sale before putting the house on the market.
How many people come to your sales? On average we estimate 200-400 people come through each day of the sale depending on how large the sale is.
What do we (the family) have to do to get ready for the sale? First thing is to remove any items you do not want sold and any personal paperwork. Make sure you don't throw anything away nor donate anything.
How much time do you need to set up for the sale? In a perfect world we like at least a month. It's not that it takes us that long to do the set up, it is the research on the items that often takes the most time. We have done sales in much less time, I would have to see the house to know how long the setup would take.
What happens with the more expensive items during the sale? During the sale the more expensive items will be displayed in the living room where the cash table is. We also have locking showcases if needed.
Who pays for advertising? The costs of advertising comes out of the client's final payout check.
Other companies cover advertising, why doesn't Integrity Estate Sales? Mama always said "there are no free lunches", one way or another you are paying for advertising. I believe in being up front about all charges.
We don't have much in the house to sell, is the sale big enough for an estate sale? Let's take a look before we make that determination. There are times when we can combine estates into one sale. Or we can do a quick one or two day sale. Let's talk. We also offer family guided sales.
What happens with the leftover items? We normally sell 90% of what is in the sale. At the end of the sale we offer a clean-out service. We will donate whatever is left and leave the house broom clean. We offer this as a separate service because not all clients want or need the clean-out.
Who owns the items at the end of the sale? You do! I understand that some companies own everything at the end of the sale. That is not the case with us. The items are yours at the end of the sale to do with as you please.
Can the family members be present at the estate sale? Family members are always welcome to the sale, to stop in and see how things are going then leave. We do not recommend the family, family friends or acquaintances being present at the sale because it causes the customers to be uncomfortable and not want to buy items. It can be very hard emotionally on family members. it is similar to a family being home during the showing of a house, not a good thing.
Can the family be living in the house during set up and/or the sale? NO, we will be in your way, you will be in our way. Moving is stressful enough, when the family is still in the house the stress level rises even higher. We want you to take all the items you are keeping and move out of the house before we start setting up.
How do we get our money at the end of the sale? You will receive a check within 14 days after the sale is completed. If we are doing the cleanout, the check will be mailed after the cleanout is complete along with the donation slips.
Does everything do well at estate sales? Or are there items that don't sell well? Pretty much everything sells. The only exceptions are some organs, player pianos, or ironrites and sometimes we are pleasantly surprised and they sell. Ya just never know! There are times when I know we would do better with an item in a different market place i.e. eBay or auction. We will make the arrangements to have this done. Let me put a disclaimer in here for my customers who may read this. I don't do this often because I prefer to let you have the good deals. However, my job is to get the most money for the client as possible.
What about cars or other larger items? Sure! We'll sell anything! For items like a car, trailer, snowmobiles we will lower our commission on that item.
The house is vacant, when do you release the address? We do not release the address until the day before the sale. We take down the lawn sign in front of the house in the evening after each sale day. We will never put a picture of the house online.
Is there a fee for you to come and look at our estate? No, most initial consultations are free.
Do you require a deposit? There are rare times when we will require a deposit. It depends on the situation.
Do you have a set up fee? There are rare times when we charge a set up fee. It depends on the situation.
Who does the set up? Who does the pricing? My trained staff will do the set up with guidance from me. I personally do the pricing with a couple members of my team.
What is your discounting schedule during the sale? For sales that are three days long, we are negotiable on the second day of the sale. We build in negotiating room into the price. My job is to get you the most money as possible for your items. At the same time making sure the customer is happy with their purchase and wants to come back to my sales. We do go half off or more at some point in the sale. We also conduct a bag sale toward the end of the sale, the time is determined by the length of the sale. There are companies out there that do not discount as the sale goes on, not us, we want to clear that house out for you.
Do you ever have a second sale at the same house? The only time we've had a second sale was when the house was so packed we had no other choice. There are some companies that will have a second sale at the same house trying to sell more because the family was so disappointed with the large amount of items leftover. We believe in doing it right the first time.
Hoarder houses? How do you handle them? We are becoming hoarder house experts. LOL While it seems some companies run from them. We enjoy them. One thing to remember is the house didn't get that way in a month or two and in order for it to go away it has to be done slowly and properly. We will move items from the hoarder house to other sales to get the amount of merchandise in the hoarder house to a manageable size. This takes time. Hoarder clients need to have patience and allow us the time we need to properly liquidate the items.
What is your commission? My commission varies based on the size of the job, size of the sale and other factors. It can be anywhere from 36% to 50%. I need to see the house before I can give you a definite commission. Please call to set an appointment. Please continue reading the next few questions.
What are your credentials? I am an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. We are a certified estate sale company through the American Society of Estate Liquidators.
Why are credentials important? These days everyone is jumping on the estate sale bang wagon. People think doing estate sales is very easy and glamorous, yet it is far from it. In an unregulated industry it's important to be held accountable. We chose to join these organizations to give our clients more peace of mind knowing they are hiring a professional estate sale company and not a fly by night company.
Why is it so important when shopping for an estate sale company that you do not focus only on the commission? I've been asked why is my commission so high, when it's actually the going rate. I've been told that another company has offered to do the sale for much less. The question isn't why is my commission so high as it is why is that company's commission so low? Half of the commission needs to go to labor in setting up the sale and having enough staff on hand during the sale. The other half needs to go to insurance, supplies, operating costs, taxes and then I do need to make a living. Will they do a complete setup? Or will a customer find money in a drawer that was missed during the setup? Will the proper research be done? Do they have the credentials to know how to do the research? When you calculate this, you will realize you will get what you paid for. Next, do you want 75% of $5000 or 64% of $20,000? And lastly, just because someone is an antique dealer or has a store does not mean they know how to price, sell or market the sale to get the amount of traffic needed to sell the items.
Is the company you are considering hiring a "real" company or a "fly-by-night" company?
To find out check Michigan.gov, there is a link on our website to the site to check.
It'll be sunny (we hope)! Temp 2162.
Check out our website for more detailed information.
- The Estate Sale process
- See our photo gallery of our set ups
- Read about commission cautions
- Utilize link to find out if the company you are considering hiring is registered with the state as an estate sale company or just a fly-by-night company