Losing a relative often is a traumatic experience at best, whether it is a parent, sibling or spouse. A secondary hurdle, depending on the terms of the wills and codicils, is what is left behind and what to do with the personal property items.

Enter the experienced estate sale service agent. The best ones will take good photographs, have a contract, have a sales team, perform good advertising and deliver detailed accounting after the sale.

These factors, in essence, take so much stress off of the legatees inheriting property. It is best to not leap into big decisions right after a loved one dies. Caring for oneself as the caregiver comes first. Grieving and mourning do, as well as comforting others in the family. After all “things are just things.”

On the positive side, there is a whole marketplace out there that is ready to repurpose items – whether it is for collecting, resale or actual use (as in kitchen goods and personal furniture). Keep in mind, too, that what was in vogue in yesteryear may not be so today – but then again it might. A case in point would be mid-century modern of the early to mid-50s if it is certain items. Grandmother’s sofa may not qualify, but a futuristic Jetson style floor lamp just might be the ticket.

There are several reasons that an estate sales company should do an estate sale instead of a family member. They know how to properly stage the house, and make descriptions online.

There is a whole formula to success and the more the estate sale company grosses on the whole sale, the more everyone makes. And that can go a long way in defraying expenses of an estate.

In addition to traditional estate sales repurposing property of the deceased, there are a couple of other types of estate sales – living estate sales and downsizing and moving sales. The living estate sales ordinarily mean that the individual is planning to move to an assisted living multi-tenant building and frankly, cannot take everything they have acquired and inherited over the years with them. A living estate sale makes sense in that instance. The older people get, the more practical they usually become. Cash becomes more flexible and useful than another put-about or dust-around.

There are words of wisdom, too, about what readily sells and what may remain in the waning hours of the sale and need to go for a deeply negotiated discount. What sells are “smalls” that are unique, artistic, well-crafted or of militaria collectible nature, for instance. What does not often sell are couches, dining room table sets, breakfront china cabinets, china itself, plated flatware and midrange ceramics. Even brilliant cut glass, once cherished, is not appreciated much by today’s buying generation. Massive armoires and gigantic furniture are as slow moving as can be countenanced into today’s market. Buyers want to find something they cannot find at just any other sales.

As to pricing, do not, do not, do not expect to place a par value retail like price tag on an item and hope to achieve it. One needs to place a bullseye market-driven resale type price tag on something. Otherwise, the would-be buyer can drive a couple of miles and buy the same thing at retail. Be realistic and do not stand over the specialist second-guessing pricing. As we say in our company, “We want to run a sale, not a museum tour.”

Best wishes if you are planning to remarket a loved one’s cherished belongings. And it is easy to get emotionally re-attached to these things. Pre decided to keep your favorites. And then set a plan and leave some of the driving to the specialists who have been there and handled sales such as yours many years going.

David McDonald Yawn is a lifetime Memphian and business journalist who went into the estate sale, coin collection and militaria appraisal and brokerage business for clients 12 years ago. He can be reached for more information in these collectibles sectors at 901 827-2587 or ysanctus@aol.com

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