Downsizing or Selling an estate or preparing to downsize is not an event that most people face often. While no one wants to plan for debt, divorce, or death it is prudent to be equipped with information in order to be as well prepared as possible. Here are nine things that you should know about estate buying and downsizing that will make the process as easy as possible.

What exactly is an estate sale?

An estate sale typically refers to a party offering a single sum payment for all items in a person’s estate. This differs from an estate liquidation, where liquidators will show items in the house directly to a number of buyers, often over the course of two or three days and take a percentage of the pieces that are sold. Choosing how to proceed depends entirely on the seller’s preference in dealing with such a personal matter.

Both approaches provide services to individuals who need to get rid of their items quickly: whether it is due to unforeseen financial stress or simply because you are moving to a new home and want to start over with an entirely different interior style. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that having a single buyer purchase the entire estate does simplify things enormously- especially when they are qualified appraisers and are able to offer higher prices because of their connections to auction houses.

Reasons for an estate sale

The most common reasons associated with estate sales are what people call the 3 D’s: debt, divorce, and death. Often the burden of orchestrating an approach selling personal items is left to family heirs, who are often inexperienced with such matters. Many times these same individuals are placed under significant financial constraints, where wide ranging bills and taxes need to be paid.

As such, one of the most important reasons for an estate sale is the timeliness of the turnaround between the initial surveying of the estate to the payment for its contents to family heirs. Payment can be as quick as 48 hours with a good estate buying company or it can take months with a poor one. It is often that the same heirs that establish contact with an estate sales company want to search for someone that they feel they can trust.

When downsizing: what is included in the sale and what is not?

Downsizing sales work very similarly to estate sales with the obvious exception that not every item in a home will be included in a sale. A single sum payment is still standard fare for downsizing to minimize disputes over individual item prices. There will often be items in question during the downsizing process that the seller may not be sure whether or not they want to keep. While an estate buyer may suggest an item be included because of its value, this decision will always remain firmly with the seller.

What happens to the pieces sold in an estate sale?

These pieces are normally sold through the secondary market or at auction. In both cases, pieces are placed in the hands of knowledgeable dealers and auctioneers and then sold to collectors in the secondary market. However, when one sells pieces at an estate sale or for downsizing, it is common practice that they will not be notified when or where their pieces are offered on the secondary market.

Who deals with moving items after they are sold?

All moving and shipping arrangements are often the responsibility of the estate buying or downsizing company. Two industry terms that are commonly associated with estate sales and downsizing are a “cleanout” and “broom sweep”.

A “cleanout” refers to the downsizing process where arrangements are made for moving out all of the furniture after the sale has happened. A “broom sweep” typically refers to an estate sale, where everything in the estate is sold and the floor is literally swept clean afterward in order to make it suitable for real estate companies to begin the listing process for the home.

After receiving an offer for an estate, is the price negotiable?

One hopes that after receiving an offer for an estate, the individual responsible for selling the estate doesn’t feel that they have received too low of an offer. Other times, someone may feel that they have been given a fair price, but want to see if they can negotiate a higher payment for their estate. Usually, there is not normally room for negotiation, but there are always exceptions.

How can someone know they are not being taken advantage of?

People have seen scams in the movies and don’t want it to happen to them. Whether or not one may like it, this simple fact is on everyone’s minds. It’s only natural and it is the responsibility of the estate buying or downsizing company to mitigate this fear. There are several ways someone selling an estate or preparing to downsize can do this. The best way is to take their time and search for reputable businesses that have been in business for a long time. They should also read prior sellers’ experiences dealing with the company. Most importantly, one should simply follow their gut regarding any red flags that may arise.

What happens when seller’s expectations are either too low or too high?

It is not hard to imagine cases where sellers are trying to get rid of things in an estate and they think a particular piece is worth much more than it actually is. Conversely, it is also not hard to imagine the heirs of a family member not having a sense for the true value of a particular piece in an estate and believing it to be worth much less than it actually is. These are natural problems in this business, but they are also mitigated by estate buying companies offering a single sum payment so there are fewer disputes over individual pieces.

The Importance of dealing with grieving ones tactfully

When one is parting with objects that have sentimental value and often times childhood memories attached: it is especially important for an estate buying company to display tact and composure when dealing with such a sale. It is not hard to imagine some companies trying to take advantage of a situation or take advantage of one’s emotional instability. It is, therefore, crucial to find a company that allows you to keep a clear head and not let you be overwhelmed by the situation. The best companies recognize the gravity of the situation for these individuals’ lives and do everything they can to accommodate and make the process as easy as possible.