Executorium Publisher George Compton interviews National Estate Sales Association President Lisa Kroese to dive into the estate sale liquidation process.
This episode of Executorium’s Estate Talk was broadcast on Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023.
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The following transcript has been edited for readability.
EX: Let’s talk about the common scenario an executor faces – house full of stuff, memories, personal property, items of value, collections perhaps, of course things that maybe we don’t need, maybe lots of stuff we don’t need, maybe stuff we’re thinking about throwing out. Now what Lisa?
LK: So my recommendation to executors is really to determine, “Do you need help from a professional?” pretty early on and start interviewing them early in the process. One of the things that we see frequently in the industry is people come into the home and start trying to sort and organize and they frequently underestimate the scope of work. They may think, “You know, we can do this in a couple of weekends, with my cousins or whatever, and then come to find out that it takes a lot longer. They have to get back to their own lives and their jobs. Maybe somebody from the outside world could be helpful. Early on, even if you don’t have enough for a liquidator to do a sale, you know you still might get some really good pointers and resources. If you are going to need a sale many estate sellers could be booked weeks or months in advance. Definitely make your list and get references of who in your area are good reputable folks. You can check our website NESA-USA.com – we have a map with a list of our members on there so you can find them and reach out to them as well.
EX: I think your Point’s well taken that you’re likely not to contact an estate sale company and have them there the next day ready to do your estate sale. They do book up – especially some of the higher quality companies, more established companies. Estate sale companies don’t just do estate sales for an Executor with a decedent’s personal property, they also do minimalizations and they do transitions for people that are moving and relocating and downsizing, so I think it’s a key point to get on their schedule and on their radar as soon as possible when you know this is imminent.
LK: There’s a lot of demand for our services.
EX: So for the uninitiated, such as myself when I was an Executor and wandered into this situation, what is an estate sale?
LK: An Estate Sale is any time you’re inviting people into your home [often] or even if it’s off-site in a different location, we’re selling the personal property contents of an estate. Sometimes that is for an Executor or an administrator, sometimes it’s for somebody that’s moving or relocating or downsizing or somebody’s going into assisted living. You have an estate if you have a home and you have personal property. Those are items that are in your estate, so that’s when a state sale is held [to liquidate that property]. There’s really no estate sale police out there telling people, you know, “You can’t call this an estate sale or you should call it, “whatever”. Some people say it’s a moving sale if somebody hasn’t passed away, but there’s no hard and fast rules. Just because something says, ”An Estate Sale”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody has passed away. It could mean that – but not always.
EX: I’ve heard the term Tag Sale” used. Is that the same as an estate sale? You kind of alluded to that just recently. Is it interchangeable? Is there any distinction between an “Estate Sale” and a “Tag Sale”?
LK: In many areas, people refer to them as “tag sales” instead of “estate sales”. Nationwide I think the term “estate sales” is becoming more common and more in use, but it could be [called] a tag sale. Sometimes people think, “I can’t have an estate sale because I don’t have enough fancy things.” Well, frequently we are selling everything in the home: vehicles, everyday household objects, reams of paper in an office, household cleaning supplies, appliances, etc. Those things all add up to make an estate. An industry survey that I saw a couple of years ago [cited] the average gross proceeds from an estate sale is a little over eighteen thousand dollars. When you think about all of the items that many people have in a home you can really easily see that adding up to that amount. so
EX: That does surprise me and I find it interesting because I would have imagined things like cleaning supplies or just perhaps ephemera or papers that I wouldn’t think have any value, feed that amount and be part of a good margin that make it a successful estate sale in the end. Would the secret be to not throw anything out, or to have the estate sale representative come and take a look and advise to that?
LK: Yeah it varies a lot by the type of estate seller that you have, but many estate sales we really do we sell we’ll sell everything that’s there unless it’s garbage or dangerous or something like that. We usually ask people please don’t throw things away because we’ve seen where people think something is garbage and its actually worth money, or it all adds up. So I wouldn’t start trashing or donating things until you’ve spoken to your estate seller. if you if you are planning to possibly have an estate sale or work with a professional, my recommendation your first steps to do as a family are identifying the things that you know are not going to be available to that Liquidator to sell. You can inform them when you meet with them – these are the things that we are going to be keeping in our family, and then these are the things that you’re going to be selling. Everything else, I would let them determine, what kinds of things they want to sell or donate or leave behind or take away. Speak with them about it because it runs the gamut – there’s no one way to run an estate sale. It really depends on who you’re working with – what things they’re going to put in your sale. Personally, I try to put out every single thing in the house. I don’t throw anything out, I don’t care what it is, refrigerator magnets? We’ll sell them!
EX: Starting from the end of my next question, and of course every state is different, every estate sale company will be different – are we looking to have the property just ready for complete sale and liquidation? That at the end of the estate sale it’ll be empty and with the proceeds of the estate sale in the hands of the estate sale company and to the final transaction between the client and the state sale company? All walking away from an empty house?
LK: Many estate sale contracts will cover that. You want to make sure that in your contract you’re covering what exactly they’re doing. I’ve done sales for families that have said, “You know we just want you to do the sale, sell what you can and then leave the rest for us to take care of. Other families say, “You know, not only do we want it completely empty, we want it cleaned and ready for the real estate transaction to happen next. So find out from your company that you’re going to be using what happens after the sale is over, and that should all be outlined in your contract. What are the expectations on how the real property is going to be transferred back over to you – what condition is it going to be in?
EX: From that point moving all the way back to the point where, I as an executor I’m looking at the Executorium.com website, or an archive of this podcast and say, “hey, I think this will take care of the contents of Mom’s house. I should look into some estate sales companies as options, and vet a few of them, and interview a few of them.” Talk to me about that how do I how do I how do I begin that process?
LK: Well NESA is a resource to find people. In NESA we follow a code of ethics that all of our members adhere to. Getting references from Realtors, estate planning attorneys, if you have an attorney you’re working with many of them will know who does sales in your area and will give referrals to people that are experienced and have a reputation in your area for doing good work. So those are some good resources to look at. Realtors see a lot, if your realtor is working with you already, or you’re looking for one. Also assisted living places will have resources like that available to be able to provide references for service providers in your area.
Lisa Kroese is the President of the National Estate Sales Association, the nation’s 501(c)6c non-profit promoting and supporting the estate liquidation industry.
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