What To Expect When You Hire An Estate Sale Company

Hiring an estate sale company isn’t something you do every day. So it’s perfectly understandable if you’re entering this process with a giant question mark over your head.

If you’re wondering whether you need an estate sale, or how to get started down the road to choosing a company, we can help. But once that’s done...what next?

Estate sale companies are here to sell your items and make as much money as possible for both of you. But because it’s your stuff they’re selling, and it’s being done in your house, it’s important for you to find a company you’re comfortable with, so you can move forward trusting the process. So, when you’re ready, here’s what’s going to happen:

Hold your interviews

Meet with multiple companies to make sure you’re making the best choice for you and your situation. Here are some tips, including specific questions to ask at each of your interviews. You certainly don’t have to ask them all, but try to ask the same ones each time to make the best comparison.

Sign your contract

Once you’ve chosen your company, get a contract. Don’t hold an estate sale without one. Commissions and fees will be set in stone, as will the expectations of both client and company. If there are any exceptions to what will be sold, they need to be made clear in the contract.

The length of the contract depends on the company you hire, and it’s liable to be a several pages long—there are a lot of moving parts, after all. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, get clarification. If you don’t agree with an item in the contract, say something. If you’re ultimately not comfortable with the contract, don’t sign it, and move on. But when you do sign one, make sure to retain a copy for yourself.


Often the first thing that an estate sale company will do once a contract is signed is take photographs—often even the very same day. This creates an inventory of the property, so the company can know what will be in the sale (and if anything is removed from the sale ahead of time). This is also helpful to the client, to have photographic evidence of what was included in the sale.

The pictures may also be used in the advertising of the sale. (Posting them to EstateSales.NET, perhaps?)


The company will need time before the sale to stage the property. How long this will take depends on the condition of the house and the amount of merchandise. The home of a hoarder, for example, will take considerably longer to sift, sort, clean, and stage than the average home. (This is something the company will have likely considered when working out the terms of the contract they offered.)

Tables will be set up. Items will be displayed. Pathways will be made so customers can move from room to room with relative ease.

If you are still living in the home during the staging process, you will be expected to leave everything untouched. Pricing is done entirely by the estate sale company, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract. Do not change the tags.

The Sale

It’s unlikely that you’ll be encouraged to attend the sale. In fact, you may be asked to stay off the property entirely during the sale. For some people this is frustrating: after all, it’s happening on your property, and it’s your things that are being sold. Don’t you have a right to oversee the process?

But estate sales can be a very emotional time for the client for those very reasons. Having the client on-site can negatively affect shoppers, and make it difficult for the estate sale company to do its job. It’s important for you to trust the company you hire, and feel comfortable letting the professionals do their job. Ask questions freely beforehand. Feel free to check in at the end of day as well.

The Cleanup

How the house is cleaned after an estate sale varies from company to company. Some will rent a dumpster and throw out anything that needs disposal, and donate what went unsold. Some will have people they call to buyout remaining items for a discounted cost, and leave the home “broom clean.” Others will recommend outside companies for the job of cleaning out the house, but ultimately leave it to the homeowner….or any number of other configurations. Some charge cleanout fees. Others don’t. Know ahead of time what methods your company employs, so you’re not left holding the literal and figurative bag at the end of the sale, trying to clean the house on your own. (Unless, of course, that’s how you want to handle it.)

The Payoff

Every company has a different timeline when it comes to paying their client following the sale, but according to a recent industry survey, most (71%) square things off within a week of the sale. How much information about the sale you receive also depends on the company—if you want or need in-depth reporting about the items sold and their cost, talk to the company before the contract is signed, to make sure they can deliver the information you need in the way you need it

Estate sales can be daunting. Hiring a company, adjusting to the idea that strangers will be rummaging through your things, winding up with an empty house—even though that’s the desired result—can all be overwhelming. But a good estate sale company will make the process as painless as possible. And given the amount of work that goes into doing it well, you’ll find that hiring outside help is the way to go. Give us a call at (855) 956-1651 to get connected to estate sale companies in your area.

When you’re ready to start the process, visit our Hire a Company page, or give us a call at (855) 956-1651, and we will help you get connected to estate sale companies in your area.

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