Help with Handling the Family Estate?

“Every collection of memories, a dramatization and a mise-en-scene of personal and collective pasts, of a remembered childhood and of remembrance after death”

– Philipp Blom, To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting

One thing I learned from hosting estate and moving sales is that you cannot predict which items in a home are ripe with memories and emotion, and sometimes it is everything. This means family members dealing with transitions can make emotional decisions that can do more harm than good. Here’s how you can help.

Advise them not to throw anything out. Without a trained eye, many items of value have ended up in landfills never to be seen again.

Encourage them to find a reputable estate sale company by asking their attorney, realtor, or even a friend or relative. They can also find companies online at through a zip code search.

Most companies provide free consultations. Your clients or customers should ask questions and make sure the company is bonded against theft and has liability insurance. They should select a company that has been in business for at least 3 years and hosts sales on a regular monthly basis, charges only a percentage of sales proceeds with no hidden costs, and advertises online and not just in the newspaper.

A reputable company will hold memberships in professional associations and offer references from former clients. Ask for them. If they can, attend one of the company’s sales to see how they do business. A great company will also leave the home empty and ready for the new owner.

The estate sale industry is growing and there is a new company every day. Helping your clients and customers make informed decisions is a value-added service you can provide that will strengthen your relationship for the future.

-Cindy L. Illig-Lum

Owner, The TimeFinders, LLC