Your loved one has passed away, you have taken the time to grieve, and have allocated any items specifically mentioned in the will to the appropriate beneficiaries. You and your family have now also sorted through their possessions and decided which you want to keep for yourself for sentimental reasons. Now is the time to sell the remaining items, which can be rather mind-boggling, especially if the estate contains a large number of items, whether expensive or inexpensive in monetary value.
If the estate contains high-value items or antiques it is a good idea to bring in a professional appraiser, auctioneer or antiques dealer to help you sort out which items have value. They have the experience in these areas and can be extremely helpful in setting appropriate pricing. For all other items, here is a process to follow:
Step 1 – Inventory
Make a list of all items you are looking to sell on a spreadsheet. Unless items are typically sold in a set, list each item individually, no matter its size or value.
Step 2 – Determine Condition
The second column on your spreadsheet should deal with the condition of the item. Descriptions could be ‘new’, ‘good’, ‘fair’, or ‘poor’. Determine how to qualify an item for each category before beginning. ‘New’ could mean excellent condition, with no sign of wear. ‘Good’ could mean the item is still in excellent working order with a small flaw or two. Items in good working order, but obviously well-used could be listed as ‘fair’ and items that are heavily damaged or not working listed as ‘poor’. You can change the categories to fit your own needs, going with more or fewer categories, or changing the descriptions.
Step 3 – Prioritize
Items in ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ condition will be harder to sell so you may decide to donate or throw out those items before going any further. However, if you are not sure about doing this, feel free to keep those items on your list and continue through the rest of the steps.
Step 4 – Browse the Internet
This is the time consuming process. Browse through the Internet to look for items in similar condition. Find the item on three different websites and note the prices. For items you have listed in ‘new’ condition look at store websites and adjust your price depending on the age of the item. Websites like eBay or Craig’s List are useful for finding the price other people have listed for similar items. Confirm which items are selling at what price before choosing which price is the most appropriate. For items you are not able to find on the Internet (typically smaller items or items of low value) look at Step 5.
Step 5 – Browse Thrift Stores
For those items you cannot find on the Internet try browsing through local thrift or goodwill stores. Find items in comparable condition and note the prices. If you can find three different comparable items, even better, make note of all three prices.
Step 6 – Average the Prices
Take an average of the three prices you found during the browsing process. This average is the price you want to enter into your spreadsheet.
Step 7 – Sell
Now that you have decided on appropriate prices, you can decide how you want to sell the items, whether through an estate sale, online, garage sale, or any other avenue you decide upon.
Remember not to attached sentimental value to the items you are selling – buyers are not willing to pay for sentimental value.