5 Estate Sale Tips for Property Owners

The typical garage in many of the houses we buy - we held an estate sale to dispose of much of this stuff!

Inherit a House and Needs Some Estate Sale Tips?

Do you represent an estate that needs to decide if you should hold an estate sale? Do you need to liquidate everything – the house and the contents? Then sell it fast?

When to Have an Estate Sale

While typically held after a loved one has passed, estate sales may be helpful when going through a divorce or other personal transitions like downsizing to a smaller house or condo. Even just moving you need to dispose of a household full of items. Going through all of your possessions is tough, and if a loved one has passed, it can be really difficult. Be careful to find and set aside important documents, deeds, titles, bank statements, or other financial documents required for the income tax return. 

Valuable things may be casually placed, such as money in a coat pocket. You may want to flip through books for essential papers and systematically check through drawers and any containers or boxes. For a successful outcome, pay close attention to these five estate sale tips for property owners.


A significant estate sale tip for property owners is not to clean or repair antiques or other things other than dusting and light housekeeping. If you must sort or clean before the company arrives, be mindful about deep cleaning an antique dresser, you may be cleaning off thousands of dollars of value. Don’t throw out or donate clothing, kitchen items, or even tools from the garage, which may be valuable. And don’t have a garage sale before the estate sale because people love vintage items. The easiest way to deal with the emotional process of cleaning out the property is to call on estate liquidators who are licensed professionals, so if you’re unwilling or unable to handle the task personally, call at least two estate sale companies.

We have had several sellers that hold their own garage sales and we have heard several times stories of how had to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb because their loved ones had hidden money, bonds, and other financial information everywhere. Drawers, Boxes, Pockets, etc. And once the most loved items at one of our sales were broken Christmas ornaments that a garage sale shopper dug out of our trash. We had tossed them because they were broken and the shopper wanted to know how much we were asking for them like we hadn’t priced them yet. Who knew?

Don’t Guess

Estate sales attract buyers interested in unique and unusual items, and these may include collectibles and even costume jewelry. Experts in estate sales will know what has value and advise you.  Don’t guess that an object is worthless because it appears to be junk to your untrained eye. Otherwise, you must carefully research the worth of the things you find, and pay special attention if a collection of like items exists. It isn’t unheard of for family members to learn too late that they’ve tossed out something of great importance, which is a critical estate sale tip for property owners.

Just this past year, we took on a house that was packed. We held a few garage sales and after we sold some pair of motorcycle goggles to a lady for $5, her husband called to make sure we were ok with the sale it seems they were valued at $150. An estate salesperson can take a look and tell you if it is worth the time and money to hold a big estate sale, just hold a garage sale, or better just donate items to a thrift store. And sometimes if you do know the value of items, you might want to market the top-dollar items on Facebook Market Place to save time, hold a garage sale for the regular items, and then donate what is left.

Plan for Rememberances

Close friends or family members will seek an item for remembrance of the deceased, and disputes can arise, so be prepared to deal with these emotional outbursts by having a plan, which is a great estate sale tip for property owners. While some wills specifically list what will go to family or friends, often these people are left to choose items that have a personal memory attached; however, these are now gifts from the estate and must be within limits concerning value. You’re not obligated, however, to give away anything, nor is it your right. As the estate representative, it’s your responsibility to give the family all proceeds from the sale. You could have a pre-sale for this group of individuals, tagging the items for the person who wants them to purchase, thereby meeting your obligation as the estate representative while excluding the items from the public estate sale.


Allowing ample time for the estate sale is key for property owners because it can take weeks to prepare appropriately. If time is no issue, working with an estate sales professional or handling the job on your own may be the better option.  Suppose the estate has very few items remaining because family and friends took the majority of possessions that were of any value, or you’re paying monthly expenses, which are depleting the estate. In that case, a buy-out company is likely your best option. Estate buy-out companies come and take everything in one fell swoop. While it is a much less emotional process that happens very quickly, you pay for the convenience, typically bringing in much less on the estate sale through this method.

Understand your Objective

Keeping the reason for the sale at the forefront of your mind will help you emotionally. Professionals will take this project on if you’re overwhelmed. If you’re contacting an estate liquidation company, they will be working towards advertising a list to gain interest in the sale. Once a company has viewed the estate, you cannot remove items, or you’ll owe the company the value of any missing pieces.

If you want to skip the whole clean-out process, we can buy the house with all of its contents. We have also worked with several estate sale companies that we could recommend and if you just want to donate things, many local churches and charities run thrift stores that will often take items as well as Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If you are not quite sure what you want to do, you might give us a call, we can talk through your situation and offer our opinion as we have had to clean out a few houses in our day – some of our own loved ones, some of our own houses, and many houses we have bought with all the contents. Give us a call, or send us a message, we will be glad to help.


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