In preparation for this, I took my mother to her home and we went through every single closet, drawer, cupboard, and looked in every nook and cranny. My mother was not a pack rat, and after having to empty her mother-in-law's house a few years ago, she had worked hard to reduce her possessions. Still, there were an amazing number of things we had to look at and make a decision on. We were lucky to have two family friends help, ones who loved my mom and I, but didn't have sentimental attachment to any of the household contents.
My mother decided to take only as much as could be carried back to my house in a small SUV. She chose the most important and sentimental, as she looked through things.
A week after we left, the estate sale company came in. We were mostly prepared for what he offered, but it was still a shock. For everything in my mother's neat, middle-class house, he offered $1,000. That included hauling it out, and leaving the house "broom clean".
We agonized, and then accepted the offer. The house was in another state, and no one lived within 700 miles of it, we (my brothers and I) simply didn't have the time off work to organize an estate sale ourselves. We could have had the company sell things in a sale, and the profit probably would have been higher. The trade-off would have been waiting 6-8 weeks for the sale, and delaying the rental of the house as an income-producer for my mom.
In the end, it was a relief to have the emptying of my mother's house over and done with. We console ourselves knowing someone else will be able to buy my mother's nice things at a good price, and she doesn't ever have to worry about the things in her house again.
By Katie from Arizona
Please, no boxes full of clothes that are hanging over the sides. Hang clothes on hangers and price. Be courteous, friendly, and helpful when questions are asked about a particular item. Have fun, and be ready to negotiate prices when appropriate.
By redderbell from Bernice, LA