Downsizing and Estate Sales


Are you or your parents not sure how to handle upcoming changes in your living situations? You aren’t alone. If you’re a baby boomer — an adult born between 1946 and 1964 — you may find yourself caring for aging parents or their estates after they pass. You may even consider reducing your own material footprint. After all, do you want your children to go through what you’re experiencing now?

Turn to a professional to help deal with all the material possessions. Perhaps holding an estate sale is a viable solution for you. Just be careful; you don’t need the added stress of dealing with disreputable providers for your estate sale. You deserve to work with someone who values and honors your feelings and your emotional ties to the belongings.

When You Need an Estate Sale

Holding an estate sale usually entails so much more than just appraising and liquidating material possessions. At the Art of Downsizing, we understand that emotions and memories are intricately linked to your treasures and collections. When you’re going through these stirring emotional times, you need trustworthy liquidators — professionals who operate with the utmost integrity.

The task of holding an estate sale can be daunting, especially when you’re hit with the process during a crisis:

• Your mother, who’d been happily living alone, suddenly needs to go into an assisted living facility.
• Your dad passes after a long illness, and it falls to you to clean out his condo.
• Your adult children are moving, and you want to follow to remain close to your grandkids.

In cases like these, your stress levels may be stretched tight. Anyone who comes to your rescue with the promise of helping you downsize and of holding an estate sale to sort out your things may seem like an angel. But don’t believe everything you hear.

Buyer Beware

Never is it more prudent to check out the credentials and trustworthiness of a professional as it is when the task ahead is rife with emotional baggage. According to the American Society of Estate Liquidators,® the estate sale industry is attracting more and more disreputable vendors than ever before. And these hustlers don’t care about you, but are “only in it for the income.”

With so many newcomers in the field, it’s more important than ever to look for reputable professionals when holding an estate sale — people who know the pitfalls associated with estate sales, who care about the outcomes and who’ve built a solid reputation for honesty and integrity. Look for an estate sales company that walks its talk, for whom ethics are not just a list of words on their website.

Tips for Finding an Ethical Team for Holding an Estate Sale

Before you fall victim to a quick, fly-by-night estate operation, consider these tips so that you can rest easy and find peace and closure with an ethical, trustworthy estate sale team:

• Ask for and call referrals from friends, family and church members. Ask trusted professionals such as attorneys, Realtors and financial advisors.
• Expect prompt responses to your inquiries, meaning timely returned phone calls and emails, as well as quick answers to your questions.
• Follow your intuition; if something doesn’t sit right with you, listen to your gut and call someone else.
• Watch how the estate sales professional speaks, dresses and carries herself.
• Find out if she’s really listening to you by asking for a follow-up report on your first meeting.
• Check out the estate sale company’s ability to price your items appropriately by asking for some on-the-spot estimates.
• Search online for reviews.
• Look for association memberships, which often require a commitment to high standards and industry-recognized ethics.

Michelle Munson
The Art of Downsizing