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Friday, August 8, 2014

Privacy Obligations of the Estate Sales Company

Estate sales and moving sales companies often have to be very careful in the information they find when spending a week or two with a client and their family.
Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 I have to remind myself every time we walk into a new client's home that there is a reason why they needed us.  If it were easy to throw a price on every single item, display it, advertise it, and work the sale itself, they wouldn't need us.  So that's why we get called in the toughest most difficult times in people's lives.  We have unfortunately had to do sales for all of the following situations:  divorces - one couple decided to divorce during the sale!  I guess as they saw their belongings disappear they felt it was a good time to part ways.  Heirs and executives of wills call us to liquidate parent's estates for them.  These cases are sometimes very sensitive as siblings don't always agree on how to divide their parent's estates or agree on the value of items in the estate.  Suicides and unexpected deaths are also a very sad time for families in which they prefer an outside estate sales business to handle the estate sale.
Family members will often call us to intervene for one in the family that is in denial about the condition of the home. I've had so many calls that start out. " My mother was a hoarder."  One of the commonalities in the estate sales out there right now is that the owners lived through the depression era.  Those folks did not waste.  They didn't throw away anything they thought might be used.  My grandmother saved every milk jug they had.  I'm sure she thought they would one day need them to store water.  I went over one day and she had cut the tops out of ten of them and was sprouting tomatoes in them.  She was repurposing before it was cool.  These homes, attics, and basements are chocked full of garbage, trash and things most of us would throw away.  Families just don't have the time or energy to go through it all.

Simple practices such as tearing off the luggage tags that contain address and phone numbers are ways in which you can protect the identity of the owner.  You may even erase phone numbers and messages from phones, clean out purses, wallets and pockets where personal information is often kept, remove hard drives that contain memory and information of clients, check every file folder and shred documents that could be used to steal the identity of clients.

We were called by two daughters to do a sale for their parents that needed to leave the country because their father had not paid his taxes.  They needed to liquidate everything and leave in 2 weeks and the mother was in complete denial at the time.
If you've ever done a garage sale you will also understand how difficult it is physically to move everything into the garage or yard, mark it all and then sit outside to sell it all weekend.  That's difficult for anyone especially an elderly couple or a couple that has small children or work.

Some clients are reluctant to bring strangers into their homes for a sale due to their own privacy.  We live in Nashville, TN.  I don't have to tell you how many celebrities live in this city.  Not only do they want to hold the sale themselves, they don't want the general public to be peeking into their private lives and announcing it.
Concealing the identity of celebrities and high profile famous clients is not always easy.  If the home is in a wealthy neighborhood customers will often ask who lived there.  One lady even informed me that she had googled the address and read the bio of the business man who lived there.  Now with the internet it is very easy to get information on people's addresses.

So having said that, I always ask the client what they want me to tell the general public.  Sometimes they want everyone to know the house will soon be on the market.  However,  I have had several in which they told me they didn't even want the neighbors to know anything about their plans of moving or that the house was going to be torn down.  Whatever the situation, it is best to be clear of what to say or not to say when asked about the home or owners of the home.

Estate sales companies must use the utmost integrity and confidentiality when setting up a home for a sale.  I have found many things in homes that even the family members didn't realize were there that would be very embarrassing if not handled with respect and confidence.  I found a bag of fifty year old photos one time that when I asked the daughter if she wanted them she became very confused as her father was in all of them with another woman and children.  Turns out, he had been married prior and no one had ever told them.  She realized at that moment that the children in the pictures were long lost siblings of hers.  Selling an estate of a loved one will often uncover secrets of the past that must remain in the family and the professional estate sales staff will not share that information with customers or family members.

This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

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