Advice on Benefiting From a Turning Point.
By Gina Dostler
Estate sales can profitably clear a house of clutter and help reorganize it into a more comfortable place to live. Desiree Kunihiro, a 30-year professional organizer, discusses how to hold an estate sale and cash in on furnishings of unexpected value.
Q: Let’s start with the basics. What is an estate sale, really?
A: An estate sale is definitely not a garage sale. An estate liquidator like myself comes into your home and evaluates the estate you are interested in selling. I then sort, clean, organize, research, price, market, advertise and sell your collections and furnishings from your home.
Q: Why have an estate sale anyway?
A: There are many reasons to have one. Reorganizing a home requires de-cluttering and deciding what to keep and what to release. More often than not these items can fetch certain prices and bring in some nice cash. A couple of months ago I had an estate for a client and though the items were not of great value he finished with $4,000. There are times when the passing away of a loved one requires liquidation and it can be a difficult thing to do and this is where we can come in and help sort out things for you. Other reasons include, liquidation of a loved one’s estate, down sizing your collection, divorce, tax related issues or a court order.
Q: Doesn’t a garage sale sell items the same way?
A: Actually, pricing the items means you have to know its value. Utilizing a company that can properly appraise your items assures you nothing will be sold under market value. Everything is itemized and there is no risk of throwing something away as trash when it was actually something of worth. From the beginning to the end, having the estate sale handled by a professional takes away all the worry and work involved.
Q: Which is?
A: We do all the work for you. We clean, itemize, setup the sale, run the sale, market, advertise, process all the transactions, insure, bring higher value to your items, and staff the actual sale. Your things don’t necessarily have to be antiques or rare for us to come in. We know what things sell and what don’t. I’ve been doing this for a long time so have a long list of clients and regulars that I have cultivated who know my items are worth the time coming down to check out.
Q: What are the do’s and don’ts?
A: The top on the list of all estate liquidators is do not throw anything away. Let us do the dirty work of culling through the items. We also clean the items, a reassurance to you it will be done properly and no damage done. Do keep the items you and your family want to keep. Part of the preparation I do for my clients is going over all the items and helping them decide what to sell and what to keep so they feel content and happy with all that transpires through the sale.
Q: Who pays the sales tax for the purchases made by the general public?
A: Some liquidators charge the tax by the items, but most pay all the taxes themselves.
Q: Having people tromp through my home is a bit nerve-wracking.
A: We take good care of you. I always staff someone in every room to assure items and home are looked after, though in all my years in the business I have never had a problem. We normally keep all the valuables near the checkout. But it is a good idea when hiring someone to do your estate sale to make sure they are reputable and have verifiable references. Being a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) is a good way to secure an ethical professional. As a member I certainly pledge to all my clients good judgment, self-restraint and conscience in my conduct in order to establish and maintain their confidence. I’m also very confidential with client information, both business and personal.
Q: There are other benefits acquired through estate sales, yes?
A: Having an estate sale is a wonderful way to bring buyers to your house if your home is up for sale. It not only helps clear out stuff you don’t have to carry over to your new place, but allows your home to be seen by a lot of people, usually over a three day period. One of my clients had an estate sale at his mother’s home a couple of months after she passed. He had so many offers form people wanting to buy the home he ended up selling it, even though that was not his original intention.
Q: How about the stuff that didn’t sell?
A: Whether we are purely organizing your home or there are items left from your estate sale, we collaborate with you from the very beginning to organize items into three separate categories: keep, donate, sell. Then if you wish to, we donate the items to any established non-profit organization. Receipts are always provided for donations. Some of the organizations we deal with are the Assistance League, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and Working Wardrobes.
Q: What are the fees involved?
A: It’s usually a percentage with most estate sale liquidators. In my company, I decide independently and communicate to my clients in advance all fees and expenses that are deemed reasonable, legitimate and commensurate with my experience, the services delivered and the reasonability I accept. So each sale will have a different set of fees and expenses depending on items, etc.
Desiree Kunihiro, founder and owner
Clean Slate Organizers