In its essence, an estate sale is large garage sale, one in which the majority of one’s assets are sold at the same time.  Most estate sales happen after an individual has passed away.  However, they are also useful when an individual is downsizing.

Keys to Having a Successful Estate Sale

Create an Inventory List

Make a list of everything that you plan to sell.  Divide the list into categories, one for each room, and note the condition of each item.  You might want to create a scale from one to five, with one indicating the item is in poor condition and five indicating the item is like new.

Clean and Repair

While many items will be sold on an ‘as is’ basis, others can easily and quickly be cleaned and repaired to increase the selling price.

Price the Items on your Inventory List

It is now time to determine the fair market value for each item you plan to sell.  To determine appropriate pricing search through online databases, look through catalogs, or have items that are more valuable appraised by an expert.

Clearly mark the asking price on each item.  Remember, individuals attending estate sales are looking for bargains and will usually want to haggle.  Keep this in mind as you set your prices.

Organize to Create a Good Traffic Flow

You want those attending your estate sale to be able to take their time going through each room, looking at the various items for sale.  To avoid bottlenecks, try to keep items around the edge of the room or in the center of the room.  Do not put too many items on any one table.  You want the potential buyers to be able to glance around for items they are interested in purchasing and then be able to move on if nothing catches their eye.  However, you also want enough room for people to stop and look more closely at any item that interests them.

Set up Security

Unfortunately, we live in a world where security is a necessity, no matter the setting.  Therefore, make sure all entrances and exits are monitored, making sure that no one leaves without first paying for their purchases.  Lock the doors leading to any areas of the house that you want kept off limits to all potential buyers.  Keep any smaller, higher value items close to the cashier’s table or somewhere else where an individual can always keep an eye on the items.

Pictures and Advertising

Great pictures help draw in potential buyers.  Take pictures of bigger items and collectibles that typically interest shoppers.  Start advertising a week before your sale.

Don’t Do This Alone

Ask friends and family to help you through the process, especially the day of the sale.  Perhaps you want to throw a beer and pizza party once the sale to over to thank them for their help.

Make a Plan for the Items that Do Not Sell

Call potential donation centers to see what their policies are regarding donating all unsold items.  Many centers will come and pick up the items, especially if there is a lot left.  You will also want to determine if there are any items the donation center will not accept, such as larger pieces of furniture.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If the entire process simply feels overwhelming, and you feel like you do not have the time to do it properly, you may want to hire a professional to handle the sale for you.  Professionals are especially helpful if you are selling off the possessions of a deceased loved one.  In these cases, strong emotions often come into play and it can be extremely difficult to separate the sentimental value from the fair market value of items.  In addition, you may not truly understand the value of the items if you were not involved in the original purchase.  Again, hiring a professional can help ensure that you receive the greatest possible value from all items you plan to sell at the estate sale.