Liquidating an Estate?

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There are times in our lives when we must deal with other people's belongings. This page is about liquidating an estate.


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I am interested in hearing advice, experiences, tips on what is the best way to go about selling the contents of an estate. My husband and I have inherited a family home which itself is in run down condition, but the contents are antiques. We have heard negative things about auction houses and estate dealers. How do we go about finding the value of items?

It seems like a horrendous job. A friend offered to help sell things on Ebay. What would be a fair percentage to offer for this service? We really need to make the best profit but don't know which direction to go. Would appreciate hearing from others who have experience and have had success. Thank you.


March 26, 20080 found this helpful

Sometimes the bad thing about getting unknown folks to help sell an estate is that most people coming to buy the antiques and collectables will be wanting to buy things to resale. A hard thing to admit is these folks do this all the time. It isn't a bad thing if done right, as long as you get an honest price for the items. Do not sell your items to somebody telling you your items are worth nothing but just to help out he'll give you x amount of dollars for everything just to get it off your hands and haul it away. These folks are like buzzards and will turn around and sell your stuff for unbelievable amounts to dealers and even resale it in their own shops or malls. You should be the one to profit. An honest Estate Dealer will charge you at least 30 to 35 per cent plus expenses for selling your items unless it is just a few items, then 50 per cent would be more likely a good price.


Often times if you do this job yourselves, you can lose a fortune by underpricing some things, and not selling others by overpricing. Ebay is a great place to see what things did sell for, but better to look at other estate sales and antique markets to see what things are going for in your area. A close friend that has gone through this will also be somebody good to listen to. Local lawyers should also be able to recommend someone. I've done sales for years and have seen a lot of slick folks trying to run away with Uncle Ned's lifetime of possesions. Let a professional help you and follow their guidelines for a peaceful fast way to move the items quickly. If you've done your homework, you shall have good memories about the people coming to shop.

Good luck!

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

We had very good luck with a local auction company that came in and sold the contents of my husband's grandmother's house. They do the preparation. Sometimes things need to be washed and pressed, etc. But this is the way to go as its not drawn out.

Our local business that will take things and sell them for you on Ebay gets 30 percent of the profit. This might be a guideline in case you choose to do that. But I dont recommend it. Its a LOT of work.

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By Beverly (Guest Post)
March 26, 20080 found this helpful

I work for an auction company in Tennessee and an honest one at that. So you can find good ones, the best way is word of mouth. Perhaps you could attend 2 or 3 different auction houses and see who you like and hear what people have to say about them.


Antiques usually do better at auction than at yard sale type estate sales.

I wish you the best.


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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

I've been involved in the settlement of five estates. Your options really depend on how much time and energy you have. Personally I'd go with a local, reputable auction house. A well-advertised auction might not bring you top dollar on every single item, but at the end of the day, the house will be cleared out and one giant step closer to being ready to sell. Attorneys who handle estate work should be able to direct you to an honest auctioneer. They are regulated and licensed in most states that I know of, and all the ones I've worked with did a good job and earned the percentage they were paid.


One estate I settled had only a few nice antique items, which I sold to a local dealer. I then contracted with a service which gave me a single, set price for everything else that was in the house--from decent used furniture to appliances to stuff that was just junk. I met them and let them in in the morning and came back in the afternoon to an empty house and cash money in the amount we'd agreed on. At that point, since I was living out of town and on leave from a demanding job, I couldn't have been happier.

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