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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Do I need an Estate Sale?

Estate Sale Co. - Busy Bee Moving Sales in Tn.
Before getting into the business, I probably would have answered this with a no.  Now that I know the benefits, I would definitely consider it as an option and recommend.  If you've ever had a garage sale you know the work and pains of liquidating on a small scale.  Multiply that by 50 and you'll understand the work that goes into an entire estate liquidation sale.  When I moved the last time from Texas to Tennessee, I chose to sell everything little by little with garage sales and Craigslist until I had downsized as much as I could and still paid movers more than I wanted in the end.  Even so, it took me over 6 weeks to sell the furniture one by one on the internet and continually lower prices and make arrangements to meet making the process quite tedious.  Also, to my surprise, I found a bit of anxiety involved that I had not expected as well especially when I was giving my family antiques to my siblings.  I had those pieces since my husband and I married, even refinished it together during our engagement.  Many memories were attached to some of those pieces as they went out the door.  My husband and I gave antique furniture to one another for birthdays and anniversaries through the years and I was forced to part with those as well.  I never thought I would feel so sentimental towards those things but I did.  This experience is one in which I often relate to when working with a customer who is struggling with the same anxiety.  Using a third party company certainly alleviates this problem and removes the seller from the difficult position of negotiating these endeared belongings.
Whether we admit it or not, most of us know how deep we are with holding onto our belongings and then there are those that are pushed by family members to purge their homes for whatever reasons.  I have been told on many occasions, "My mother was a hoarder."  One lady said, "My mother wasn't a hoarder but a squirler."  She was right, she didn't keep everything but the things she did keep were carefully packed away and took forever to uncover it all.
If you know you cannot bear to watch bargain hunters and strangers fill your home and insensitively haggle over prices of your Uncle Michael's blue cobalt pickle jar, then you should consider an estate sales company.
If your Aunt Berenice calls you  and says, "I need to liquidate my assetts.  I am disabled.  I don't have the money to have it moved."  You should encourage her to call an estate sales company. If your boss calls you late one night and says, "I've found a home in Las Vegas and I need you to help me move it all in 2 weeks.", call an estate sales company to help you get rid of it quickly.  If your sister Leanne calls and says she is going to start cleaning out your moms home and don't worry about anything, call an estate sales company.
For some reason, when it comes to our own stuff, its just more difficult.  People ask us all the time how we can set a sell and mark it in only 2 1/2 days.  I only know that when I moved it took me 2 weeks to unpack the boxes, 2 more weeks to put it away, and a year later I'm still trying to decide where to hang pictures.  

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.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Art of Haggling - Learn It!

You've heard the terms haggling, negotiating, dealing and dickering.  Many recent tv shows have even started showing examples of how to negotiate in such programs as American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Pawnography, Dickering, Cash and Cari and others.  These television shows have not only educated us on the technique of how to haggle but setting an example of what the future is going to be.  A practice that has been greatly used in other countries that sell goods in markets, has now reached the United States.  Unfortunately, not all retailers and dealers are quite comfortable with the back and forth negotiating as many are making offers rather than paying full price.  I rent a small antique booth in Franklin, Tennessee and have noticed an increase in the number of calls over the last two years of customers making offers.  Because the antique mall is managed by various workers and the owners of the merchandise are not on the premises, it makes it difficult for the employees to negotiate, therefore they are calling the booth owners daily relaying offers.  Some malls have an agreement of a certain percentage they can negotiate without calling to cut down on the amount of calls.  Although not an ideal situation, you should always ask if they will come down on a price before buying.  Who knows, it may be the easiest 10% off you ever got.  Flea markets are quite versed in the dickering game.  Often the dealers are present at the market giving the customer more opportunity to get a better deal.  The downside to all of this is that often prices are marked up in order to accomodate for negotiating.  Estate sales are the same.  More so at the end of the sale you can make offers and ask for discounts.  When I was running the  sale, a few things did irritate me.  When someone has 20 different items in their arms and is holding each one up and asking if I'll take a dollar here or there for it, I not only have no idea how this is going to get accurately accounted for at the register but know I probably won't remember what we agreed on.  Therefore, asking an overall price for a set of items is not only easier on both parties but may give you more leverage with the dealer as they will not be constantly quoting prices for you.  If its a large item, yes, you may want to discuss that separately.  Everyone's style in negotiating is a little different and some are more comfortable with it than others.  Whether you are new at it or not, there are a few things you can do and say to insure you are getting the best deal.
What are some of the ways you can ask for a discount without feeling pushy or offending the owner?  I've had many techniques of negotiating tried on me and I'll give you my perspective as a dealer first and then give you some suggestions.  The offer I dislike the most is what I call the bully.  This is when someone walks up to me with a frown and gruffly says, "I'll give you a dollar for this old broken handled saw."  Maybe its just me but when someone TELLS me what they're going to give me for something, I automatically want to get defensive and just say no.  I would never recommend trying to offend the person you're negotiating with.  Also, pointing out all the flaws and reasons why it isn't worth anything, may help a little but just makes me wonder why you want it anyway.  "What's the best price you can do on this today?", is one of my favorites to use.  That gives you a starting point and you can go from there.  You can always say a counter offer and see what happens. Another practice that doesn't go over well with me as a dealer is when I have agreed on a lower price and then suddenly we get to the counter and the customer is wanting even more off.  Not only does this not work with me but will get you sent to the side or back of the line until you are ready.  Estate sales can be hectic busy places and a die hard negotiator in line can not only be time consuming but irritating to everyone in the room.  Some customers have been avoided and cut off from negotiations in the future because of this.  I have seen sales people run to the back when they saw this customer walk in.  No kidding!  You don't want to be that customer that holds out forever trying to save 1 more dollar...and then another.  The other customer that will find themselves avoided by sales people are the non-commital ones.  I call it, "How low will you go?"  Basically, just means he wants to know what my best price is on everything at the sale but no intentions of actually buying it.
 Again, letting the sales person know you are going to buy a larger quantity is a good way to get a better deal.  I just left an estate sale this morning in which a man asked, "What would you do on the entire lot of Christmas decorations?"  Because this is July and the sale is half over, the estate sales manager quickly went upstairs to make a fair bargain for the customer.  Estate and garage sales often have to clear out everything in a couple of days so selling by bulk is a desirable practice.  Because of this, I often counter offer with throwing more in rather than decreasing the price.  If a customer says, "Would you take 35.00 for the vintage Barbie Doll?"  I may say, "No but I will take 50.  for all of them."  That's what I call, sweetening the deal.  Again this is a great technique in clearing out the house.  One of my best phrases in getting a great deal has always been,  "What is your absolute bottom price for the car?"  Because most of us advertise on Craigslist a desired price for our things, we set those prices with a question in mind of what's going to be my bottom price at the end of the day.  By asking this question in the beginning, you often will get the response of this premeditated decision and save you the time of haggling back and forth.  In fact, many times I have gotten it for less than what I was going to offer.   The other phrase I like to use when a customer approaches me with an item is, "Well, what are you thinking?"  I automatically get a number in my head simultaneously and if it is the same, I say, "sold".  If my price is way above I'll say what I was thinking.  At that point, I try to bring them to the middle.  The more quickly you can get to an agreed price the better.  As negotiations linger, the less desirable the object becomes and more likely lead to buyers remorse.  Most of what we buy is based on an emotional, spontaneous decision.  As a sales person, you want that to be in your favor therefore a quick agreement is best.  This may also work in the opposite direction if you are working with a reluctant seller.  Sellers are often emotionally attached to their belongings and the more they hesitate during the deal, the more reluctant they can become and change their mind altogether about selling grandma's handmade quilt.
Another tip in negotiating as a couple is:  Let one person do the talking.  If you have a good rapport with the seller don't include your brother into the negotiating just because he is a used car dealer.  Talk to him on the side for advice but do your own talking.
Another idea in getting a better price is leaving an offer or bid.  If you can't agree on a price that day, ask if they will let you leave your name and number with a written offer.  This is a great way to get your price and the seller has your information at the end of the day after they find that Grandma's Madam Alexander Dolls aren't  worth as much as she thought.

My next advice is: Don't let pride get in your way.  I have seen many people lose a deal within a few insignificant dollars because of pride.  If you have haggled down within a small percentage of the price of the Lillian Russell dresser and about to walk away because of a few dollars because you either don't like the dealer or had a certain amount stuck in your head, you must not have really wanted it anyway.
Last advice on negotiating:  If you are at a number you really are not comfortable with, then stop.  This is definitely true for auctions.  We all get caught up in the moment and later regret it. 
So there it is.  Always ask for a better deal.  If you plan to be a return customer, don't offend the seller.  If you can't come to an agreement, leave your information and you just may get a call.

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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What's Hot and What's Not in Estate Sale Treasures

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 I have mentioned a few of these points in my previous blogs so I'll quickly summarize the trend.  Men are the new and growing fans of estate, garage and yard sales. Men scour garages for older tools and items that are now made in other countries of less quality.

 Also, due to the downturn in the economy families are choosing to buy furniture, clothes, toys and household goods from their neighbors instead of taking out loans, charging up their credit cards and paying sales tax on new items.

Metalware - A recent trend in reselling gold and silver has definitely driven the demand for precious metals and it sickens me to see beautiful antique sterling to be sent off to be melted down.  But in tough financial  times when folks need cash, that's what happens.  In addition to the precious metals is also a high demand for scrap metal as well.  Again,  many metal antiquities are being hauled away and scrapped.  I have nothing against recycling, just caution that you may get more for those Stanley Planes if you sell them on instead of scrapping them with a pile of tools.

Jewelry both precious gems, metal and costume are still very hot.  Dealers can ship them easily and they don't take up much space in antique booths where dealers pay by the square foot.  Also, the price of sterling silver and gold has definitely going up in value thus attracting that buyer.  Jewelry collectors will be the first in the door so be ready.  Even vintage jewelry from the fifty's through the seventy's has a strong market.

Guns and ammunition are hot.  The entire gun market has sky rocketed in past years.  State and Federal Laws must be followed in trading of these items but if you are looking for a shotgun you better be first in line for that sale.

Television shows and websites have also given us inspiration to repurpose and recycle rather than throwing out.  Thanks to sites such as a plethora of ideas of taking yard sale finds and remixing them into new life.  Creative thinkers are flooding estate sales and chalk painting furniture and reselling it for a profit.  I've sold old screen doors to women who said it would make a bulletin/chalk board and even an old rusty garden rake to a lady that was hanging it on the wall as a wine glass holder.  The ideas are endless.  An antique dealer held up an iron half red half rusty 4" attachment to a tractor and said, "How much?  I can use this for a bookend."

And now to what's not hot.  Unfortunately, many lifetime collections have not held their value.  China, glassware, dolls, electronics, furs, certain furniture pieces, books and home furnishings have not.  I have a saying, "If it was manufactured for the purpose of being a collectible, it probably hasn't increased in value."  This is unfortunate for collectors of Hummels, Precious Moments, Knowles Plates, etc.

Let's begin with furniture.  I have conducted many sales and this is what is frequently left at the end and I'll tell you why.  Large pieces such as armoirs and entertainment centers.  Families are turning to flat screens and even those that attach to the walls therefore not wanting the tv armoirs and cabinetry used in the 80's and 90's.  Also, large furniture pieces require moving expenses and space that many young families looking for furniture do not want to contend with.   Fabricated furniture such as sofas, loveseats and wing back chairs also move slowly at the sale.  Reupholstering a sofa will often cost between 500-1500.  Unless it is in impeccable condition or a rare Eame's sofa worthy of having refurbished, buyers will most likely buy new.  Fabric also has a clean factor that buyers consider.  If pets are smokers were in the home, the lazy boy recliner will probably not sell.   Fabric will also date the furniture when wood pieces mix into new decor more easily.  We are also seeing a trend of going away from the large formal dining room furniture.  Formal dining rooms are being converted to home offices.  Pub height tables and wine bars have replaced the large dining table and buffet.

My biggest disappointment in the industry has been the decrease of prices in glassware.  I believe that few of the new antique collecting shows have educated the public on the value of glassware.  Roseville, McCoy, yelloware, Pyrex, and a few others have held much of their value, all have taken a hit.  From Fostoria, depression glass, Fenton to carnival glass, they all have decreased in value from the once book prices we went by prior to internet appraising.  I did see a bounce last year in crystal, especially the better more expensive crystal such as Waterford and Bacharach.  Thanks to Pinterest, wedding planners started collecting china and stemware even mixing sets for an eclectic look.  Once bringing thousands as a set, Noritake and Limoges were selling for less than 100.  a set.

Books and electronics have all become victims of the technical industry.  I recently did a sale to walk in and find 5 old t.v.s stacked in the corner.  The owner asked if I would put 25 dollars each on them.  I told her I would put 10 dollars on them and hope they get hauled away as land fills will often charge you to take them.  We sold one.  I had a man buy speakers just for the copper in the wire.  Technology is always improving and never trusted fully by the buyer so they are tough sales.  Electronic books have hurt the market but antique books still have some value.  Older children lithograph books would be the best sellers.

Fur coats will occasionally sell but not for the prices they did at one time.  Unless a crafter wants to make something new from it, most likely it will not be worn again.

And lastly, art.  I'm not sure why the downturn in sales in the framed and glass art other than decor, but they are hard to sell even signed by the artist.  Original art by unknown artists is a little more marketable but struggling as well.

Of course location and timing is a factor in what is hot and what is not.  Christmas ornaments don't sell in June but fly out the door in November.  Historical items attached to an area such as books and memorabilia will definitely be a hot item regionally.  But overall we have seen variances in the market of resale goods.  Nevertheless, I'll hold onto my handpainted Bavarian plates until the price goes up.
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.

Who are the new estate sale buyers?

I'm not sure what has been the reason for a fluctuation of collectibles in the last few years but the Friday morning garage sale and yard sale hunt has definitely been a different buyer.  Even before the 2008 recession followed by Americans out of work, antiques and collectibles were already losing their resale values.  Much of that began with online auctions.  Flooding the market with antiques and collectibles definitely brought the value of those found in abundance down below book values.  However, rare finds are still bringing great prices and the internet is necessary for getting the best prices for those unique treasures.

But regardless, we have a new treasure hunter out there and they are looking for something different than before.  Men have left their wives at the mall and are hitting the streets for estate sale finds.  I know this to be true from not only observation but my google search engine shows that over 15% more men than women are searching for estate sales.  So what are they looking for?  I think shows such as American Pickers, Pawn Stars etc. have a wide appeal to the male audience and have brought out a new fan of antiquities.  These shows target male interest such as bikes, cars, advertising, and primitives.

Therefore,  the men collectors and resellers are the first in the door headed to the military collections, coin collections etc.  Now that I've written a somewhat sexist blog I do want to ad that a little old man found a beautiful doll at my sale.  He called a significant other on the phone and described the porcelain doll to her and he looked at me and said, "she wants to know if it has a name on the back."  I doubted but looked and found the name Kathryn.  He got back on the phone and said, "You're not going to believe this.  Her name is Kathryn."  Of course, he proudly took it home that day to the lady on the phone also named Kathryn.

Many walk in the front door and ask, "Where is the garage?".  They find tools, lawn equipment, products and supplies in the garage at great discounts.  The quality of these items have also decreased in the last few years as many tools are made in China and not the quality of materials once used in American made tools.  Therefore, some of the antique tools are not only in great condition and great prices but also highly collectible.  My son's first reaction when working his first estate sale was, " I can't believe so many of these things are made in the USA."
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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Contracts - What to watch for

No one likes the word contract until things go south and you wish you had done it.  It doesn't matter if you are holding an estate sale for your aunt or hiring a well known and established estate sales company.  I have read many contracts and they are all different.  Mainly, you want it to define the dates of the sale, the fees or commission they are expecting from the sale, payment terms and timeline, and what their services will include.  I would avoid contracts that allow for pre-sales from employees and friends.  If you want to allow them to purchase something in advance they should ask you first and by all means that is your choice.  We have seen this in the case of expensive items that may be difficult to monitor during the sale, firearms, and items that might be offensive to the public such as adult magazines.  (Yes, some people have collections and wish to sell them and not everyone entering the sale is comfortable with it.)  These items are best to be sold to private parties if possible.

Because checks and credit cards take time to be processed, it is understandable that the company will need ample time to prepare and mail your final invoice and settlement.  Most companies ask 5-10 business days to finalize the books.  If you do not receive your invoice in that time, you deserve a great explanation.

You should also expect a fee in the case of a breech of contract.  If a company begins advertising, photographing, cleaning and setting your sale, they may want reimbursement for these services in the case you change your mind.  Because estate and moving sales work primarily on a commission basis, they get no reimbursement until the sale is over.  Also, if your sale has been on the calendar for several weeks, they may have lost sale opportunities with other clients.  Furthermore, be sure you are ready to go through with the sale before you sign.

Contracts almost always include a section that asks you not to sell or take anything from the sale agreed upon from that point forward. The moving or estate sales company has chosen to take your sale based on the amount of merchandise and quality of it.  If that amount or quality decreases, they are no longer able to make that commission.  Also, after photos and advertisement has begun, customers may be driving long distances to buy that item only to find the sister took it from the sale the night before.  This not only leads to a very upset customer but a reputation of the estate sales company not upholding their advertising integrity. If you are uncomfortable about a price the company has placed on your grandmother's antique Fenton glassware, ask them to adjust the price rather than removing it from the sale.

The commission, fees and any other costs of your sale should be clearly defined in the estate sales contract.  If you place a reserve on an item, it should not only be stated in the contract but be clearly indicated that is before or after the commission is taken out.  You may have choices about cleaning, hauling and trash pick up.  Some companies cover some but not all of these.  If they don't, ask them what the fee will be.  Advertising is also a fee you will want to have in the contract.  Some companies require the client to pay for advertising and some do not.  Ask what kind and how much advertising they will cover and if you want more, negotiate that into the contract.

Don't be surprised if the contract limits or asks family members to not be present during the sale.  This is difficult to understand if you haven't held an estate sale before for a 3rd party.  The first impression to this clause may be that the company is dishonest.  If they don't want me to be at the sale, then that means they are doing something unethical.  Wrong.  Hopefully you have already checked out the reputation of the estate sales company and read any complaints in the Better Business Bureau before you have gotten to this point.  Think of it as if a realtor was showing your home and negotiating with a potential buyer and you were standing in between them.  It's not comfortable for the customer or the agent you have hired and trusted to do the job.  Also, many estate sales involve heirs and emotional attachments to the items that may be upsetting to see sold away to strangers.  I will cover this more in another blog about why we have difficulty in parting with belongings. 

  Again, make sure before you sign that you are ready.  If there are items you have not removed from the sale, write it into the contract.  The better you communicate with the moving sales company, the better.  Labeling with tape, moving to an unused room or covering with a sheet are all suggestions in conveying your wishes to the estate sales staff.  Remember, the person you consult with and sign the contract with may not even be working your sale.  Often times, other employees are setting and selling the merchandise and if you are not on the premises, how will they know it's not for sale?

The following 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.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pricing and Appraising Hints and Tips

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 You've just gathered the family and decided to go through and divide Grandma's things.  Sounds like fun recovering memories and sharing this moment with the family until...
Cousin Betty Bell shows up and says she would like the carnival glass butter dish in the china cabinet.  Two sisters would like Grandma's wedding ring.  Brother Jim has hired someone to come haul away half the barn.  No one knows what her Hummel and doll collection are worth.  Grandma had boxes of jewelry both costume and gold but not sure what they're worth?
This is when a professional estate sales company can help with pricing and appraising.  First, tell brother Jim to not haul anything off until someone has looked at it.  With a trend of repurposing, and refinishing so hot right now thanks to websites such as Pinterest, everything has potential value.  Ebay is probably the most common website for researching items and if you're using it, make sure you go to the sold items as we all know, not everything sells for the targeted price.  My favorite is a website called Worthpoint.  There is a fee of about 100.  a year and if you use it often or for a whole sale, it may be worth it but mainly used for antiques and collectibles.  Remember for larger items such as furniture and farm equipment, bidders will bid less with shipping fees in mind.  Therefore, those items may get more locally.
Items such as art and jewelry are best to consult appraisers in that field. Expensive jewelry should be only appraised by a reputable jeweler.  Art is difficult to compare on websites such as ebay and many fraudulant dealers make appraising them difficult.  Also, signatures can be difficult to read as well.
Searching Craigslist in your area will also give you an idea of what a tractor of that brand and condition are going for.
Recent Trends:
Collectibles bought for the purpose of collecting such as Cabbage Patch Dolls, Ty Babies, Collector's Plates, etc., have not held their expected increase in value as many collectors had hoped.  However, less apparent valuables may be found in old crocks, yelloware, Pyrex, pottery, ironware, vintage clothing, old toys etc.
Furniture can be tricky.  Although Grandmother's living room set was an expensive brand, if it is 1980's -1995, it may be a hard sale.  Mid-Century furniture has made a great come back with the modern sleek lines and appeals to the younger generation that most likely is decorating a smaller space and needs the lighter look.  Very early primitive pieces are a huge hit with the ability to mix them with a modern Pottery Barn look.  Taking an old hand made table from the barn and setting it up for a farm table with a rustic bench and wing back chairs on both ends is a great example of the value in an estate sale find.  Always look for name brands inside the drawers, back and underneath.  Consider the condition.  Look at the dove tails and nails to determine age.  Look at the quality of craftsmanship in the back and underneath to determine value if you can't find a name brand.  Remember that not everyone wants the entire matching suite.  Just because you're attached to it and think it should go as an entire set, people have different needs and pricing options of separate and discounted for the entire dining room set, are better options for you and the customer.  T.V. armoirs and china cabinets can be difficult to sell as we move to flat screen televisions and less couples are buying and displaying china as in past tradition.  If you do need to sell these items, display them with a new idea such as books in the china cabinet or toy baskets stored in the armoir.
Before dividing up expensive items between the family members, you may want to bring an experienced appraiser through to take a look.  This will put others at ease and reduce strife.  Current prices are best obtained through the most recent price point you can find.  Antique collector's books are often misleading in what you can ask for an item in today's market.  Books are great for information and identifying and even an idea of its rarity but we have found a large variance in some of the prices and that on the internet.
For newer items found in stores today and slightly used, pricing should be around 75% to half of the original price. 
Damaged items should be significantly less than half if sold at all and always labeled as such with "as is".
Some people price too high and some too low.  If you price too low, it will go quickly at that price.  If you price too high, it will sit there and give you a chance to reduce and take offers.  If someone inquires about a piece, ask them why they do not think it's worth that.  They may offer information that will give you insight and knowledge you didn't have before such as, "This depression glass is a reproduction."
If you are unsure of an item's worth, don't sell it.  Continue to research and call a professional to help you.

The following 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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Interviewing an Estate and Moving Sale Company.

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 Most companies will want to see the merchandise you wish to sell and ask you to sign a contract as well.  If they are so desperate or busy they are willing to take your contract without a personal interview, go to the next one on your list.  Contracts are good for you as well as the estate sales company so don't be offended by it.  However, feel free to make certain changes if needed and ask them to change it, modify it, to accomodate your particular needs.  Basically, you want it to have the sale dates, and how they intend to pay you at the end with a timeline of setup through payment. You may also want it to specify who incurs certain costs such as trash hauling and advertising.
During the interview, you will want to ask some of the following:  Are you insured and bonded?  What company?  How many employees will be working the actual sale?  Who will actually be working the sale and handling the money?  What forms of payment do you accept?  Who pays the credit card charges and what happens if a check is returned?  Do you record each item sold or do you break it down in another form of record keeping? How many sales have you conducted in the area?  What do you do with merchandise after the sale and what are some options?  Do you allow anyone including employees to purchase before the sale and if so who decides that price?  What is your employee purchase policy?  Can family members be on the premises during the sale and if not when can they be there?  How do you research pricing?  Who do I contact during the sale for questions?  What happens if I decide to remove something from the sale?  Will I be charged for items I take out of the sale after the contract is signed?  What forms of security do you have such as jewelry cases and shopping bags?  What is the charge for doing the sale and any possible charges?  What background or credentials do you and your staff have that qualify you to price merchandise?

Also discuss: parking, advertising, HOA rules, items found during the set up that may be keep sakes such as personal photos, medals, awards, marriage and birth records, social security cards, license, credit cards, etc. (a designated area should be made to store until the sale is over), items not working, what items not to be included in the sale, don't forget to include appliances, fixtures and drapery as these items are often sold as well, reserves you want on any items, location of keys and entry information for the property.

Before you sign the contract make sure you have asked everything you need to know.  Like any contract, it is binding and legal and you want to ask for changes if needed.  Don't feel like you have to rush into it and even allow your attorney and other family members to look over it as well.

The following 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.

What should a family do before calling an estate sales company?

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 Before signing a contract with an estate and moving sale company, you have some decisions to make.
Proof of your legal right to sell the property must be obtained such as a power of attorney or the executor of a will and any court documents that would be necessary to outline the will's specifications.  Heirs should have removed any items not to be included in the sale or at least clearly marked them as not to be sold.  One contact person is best during the sale so as not to cause confusion.  This contact person will be responsible for communicating what items are to be sold and which are not and where they are to be stored during the sale.  For example, if a piece of furniture is too large to move during the sale, it should be covered, roped off, or noted for the sale.  If any items require titles or paperwork, those may take several weeks to apply for lost titles so give ample time to have that paperwork as buyers will want the proper and legal forms before buying.
Keys to all entrances, out buildings, sheds, basements, doors, clocks, gun cases, furniture drawers, garage items, farm equipment, freezers, jewelry boxes etc. have to be given to the company with labels.  Code entrances and safe codes may also be necessary.   Ask the sales team to keep these keys in a safe place during the sale as they are often lost during the sale.  I once had to reimburse a buyer 20.00 for a skeleton key for a secretary he bought during the sale that disappeared before he picked it up.
Go through everything you can.  It is time consuming to pick through everything and that is why it is important to choose a reputable company that will contact you or set aside things you would want to keep.  Money, jewelry and firearms are often hidden in the home.  It may be impossible to find everything mother stashed away so clear instructions on what to do if those items are found will help the company put those things back for you if you do not want them in the sale. Think about the person that lived there and where would they have most likely hidden things.  Always check through old purses, safes, between mattresses, books and file cabinets for important paperwork and valuables not to be included in the sale.
Choosing a date for the sale is important.  You want to choose a time that is good for you and the company in which you are working with.  Be sure you choose a company that is not booking too many sales the same week of your sale.  You want your sale to get the attention it deserves and not competing with others on their list so don't be afraid to ask them details about other sales they have booked at that time as it can greatly affect the employee coverage and expertise given to your sale. Don't be afraid to book your sale in the Fall and Winter months.  These months are rare for garage and estate sales therefore giving your sale more opportunity for buyers.  Also, antique dealers often have low inventories during those months and need to replenish their  stock.  Also check the local events in the area to avoid any possible activities that may interfere with the success of your sale that weekend.  For instance, you may decide that a  County Fair would pull customers away from the sale. 
Visit some estate sales in your area.  If you are not familiar with the process, check them out, especially the companies you are interested in using.  Observe the advertising, parking, layout of the sale and the prices of the merchandise.  You can find more information on my post later on how to choose an estate sales company so I will not go into that in this post.
Research any items in the sale that you have an idea of exceptional value.  Don't assume the company you are hiring will research everything.  Even if they did, they can never know the value of everything.  The less time they take in setting your sale, the less time they have taken to research it as well.  Furthermore, you may have information behind the origin of certain items that will assist the estate sales company in finding the value for your mother's painting.  Especially in the case of artwork, I have found the client of incredible help in giving me information that leads to an accurate appraisal.
Make sure the home and property are safe and accessible to the public.  Although the restrooms may not be open during the sale, a facility will need to be present while workers set up.  Water may also need to be accessible for cleaning.  Lighting, and electricity also need to be in working order for the sale.  Rope off or repair areas too dangerous for buyers.  Inspect outside areas for proper parking places and communicate to the estate sales manager your wishes for parking and buildings of no entry.  Make sure your homeowners insurance is up to date.
HOA and local residency restrictions.  Many condominiums, neighborhoods and subdivisions have strict homeowner rules about garage and estate sales.  They may also have requirements about signage and parking.  Make sure you have given ample time to have any associations review your sale guidelines in  the event they want to bring it before the board for approval.  Many associations have fined the homeowner for breaking the HOA rules.  Again, convey these rules to the sales manager so they may also comply with the HOA requirements.
And finally, make a decision on what company to go with.  I will go into more details on this matter in another post but definitely do your research, ask around for references, look for complaints in The Better Business Bureau and don't be afraid to ask for references.

The following 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.

What items should not be sold in an estate or moving sale?

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 Many items should be excluded from an estate sale including items that require permits and license to sell.  According to your state laws, careful attention should be made when it comes to selling firearms, ammunition, alcohol, and tobacco.  In many states it is legal to sell shotguns and ammo but not handguns.  It should go without saying that all guns should be unloaded and stored in an area that would require assistance and bullets should be treated in the same manner.  Alcoholic beverages should also be excluded from the sale as a license is necessary to distribute.
Trash, garbage and broken items should not only be out of the sale but removed from the property.  Your belongings will stand out and appeal more to the public if they do not have to dig through garbage, boxes, old paper and trash to find them.  Take the time to clean up and let your nicer things shine through.  The same goes with clothing.  If it is torn, stained and below the Goodwill status, chances are it needs to be thrown away.  Some cases of vintage and antique clothing are acceptable in those conditions but still should be displayed as neatly as possible.
In addition, some taxidermy items are illegal to sell as well.  For instance, in Tennessee, you cannot sell mounted water fowl.  You can find this information in the wildlife and game section of the federal government website.
When it comes to food items be especially careful to discard outdated items.  Refrigerated and frozen foods should also be excluded from the sale especially if you are unsure of the dates and probability of electrical outages.  Frozen foods may appear to be okay but many times electricity is turned off during the estate sales turnover of utilities.
Garage items often have containers that have been replaced by other products.  Be careful to throw out spray bottles, old jars, mystery liquids and containers unmarked that may contain harmful  products.
Toiletries should be carefully inspected before including them into a sale.  Makeup, opened lotions and bath products are better tossed than possibly causing harm to a customer.  Again, many products are out of date and containers replaced with other products in the home.  Perfume is generally okay as long as it is not too old.
Automobiles can be sold as long as you have proper titles for them and provide your states requirements for the transfer.  Always have the necessary paperwork ready before the sale to make the transfer such as a Bill of Sale and odometer reading.
Jewelry and small expensive items are wonderful treasures at yard and garage sales but must be given utmost protection and security during the sale.  If you do not have adequate help during the sale, you may decide to remove them or invest in a locked case for the sale.  Even then, you should use caution when showing valuable pieces as thieves can be very clever in swiping them right under your nose.  Many reputable jewelry stores will pay you a decent price for your jewelry and you do not have to take the chance of having them stolen during the sale.
Lastly, keep in mind that if it is not working such as electrical equipment, you should indicate that on the tag such as (as is) or throw it out as well.  Customers should be encouraged to plug in items and check for non functioning equipment before they purchase.  No one wants an unhappy customer after the sale.  When selling other people's property, we are not always sure what problems it may have.

The following 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.

Estate and Moving Sales Basics

People often find themselves needing to liquidate their assets for various reasons.  Often due to a death in the family, divorce, moving, financial difficulties or health reasons, individuals are faced with needing to sell their belongings.   Many people take it upon themselves to conduct a garage or estate sale or utilize classified ads or Craigslist to downsize their on their own.  However,  there are those that may not be capable for various reasons, to do that.  Many find using an outside estate sales or moving sales company is the best choice for them.  By allowing a third party to come in, the process of cleaning, de-cluttering, advertising, setting up, marking, and researching is done more quickly and efficiently.  An estate sales company that is currently familiar with the area, merchandise you have to offer and knows how to market your collectibles, will bring you more money and remove you from the headache and time of doing it yourself.

Read more about the benefits of using an estate sale company in my post titled: Hidden Cost of Conducting Your Own Sale

The following 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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hidden costs in conducting your own sale

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 Very few sales don't require a certain amount of cleaning and trash haul away.  Whether it is unpacking glassware from storage or purging items that are broken or not able to be sold, trash should be removed from the sale prior to the sale date.  This fee can range anywhere from one hundred dollars to two thousand.  Luckily, many items such as scrap metal have a small value that saves in trash hauling as well.
Advertising is one of the largest expenses.  Some sales do not require expensive advertising due to their location and contents.  However, in remote locations and areas of less traffic, advertising is highly recommended.  Paper signs and poster board signs should be laminated to avoid due or rain damage.  Laminating 5-10 signs costs about 20.00 at Staples.  Wire stakes to hold the signs are around 6.00 each.  To advertise on which is highly effective, is 50.00 to 150.00 a month.  Newspaper ads are the most expensive of all and are only recommended if your sale requires that market.  For instance,  if you are selling farm equipment in a remote area you may want to reach that older market through newspaper ads rather than internet and Craigslist.  Think about your market and what advertising will reach that buyer and don't throw your money away.  A four inch ad in a major newspaper will be about 350.00.  If you are an individual, you will get a better price than an estate sales company.  Many companies require the customer to incur this cost for that reason.
Tables, bags, and wrapping paper.  Shelving and tables are usually necessary to set up the sale.  Whether you make tables from saw horses and plywood or use card tables and shelving built in, you will need adequate space to place small merchandise.  You may also rent folding banquet tables from a local event rental company.  Walmart and Target sell these tables for about 45.00 to 65.00 each and usually 5-10 are needed for a sale.
Although most homeowners have a liability policy to cover any accidents on the property, you should verify that it does cover any accidents and if you must hire someone to assist with the sale you should provide a workman's comp policy as they may not be covered in case of an accident.
Credit card machines are not a requirement but definitely a plus when selling larger items.  Now that many smart phones have the capabilities of taking credit cards, you can offer this service to increase sales and give more options for your customers.  However, they also come with a fee.  The Square is easy to use and quite reliable but cost around 2.75 percent.  Therefore, cutting into your profit greatly.  If you invest in a mobile credit card machine such as Verifone or First Data, they will be around 2% and charge you 35.00 a month plus a lease fee up to four years.  Quite an investment for a single estate sale.
After the sale you will most likely have more to haul away and possibly large pieces of furniture to remove as well.  Many organizations will provide a pick up service which will not only provide a convenience but a tax deductible receipt for your leftover items.
Many families work together in conducting sales to save money in hiring people to set and work the sale.  It can be advantageous in sifting through the estate and making decisions on what to keep and what to discard.  It can also be a memorable time in which the siblings gather together to reminisce over past items found and divide the estate in a logical order.  However,  this is sometimes not easy.  Emotions, lack of organization, physical limitations, security during the sale, lack of trust between family members, lack of knowledge of the value of items are just some of the reasons individuals may find it beneficial to hire a professional.
With careful planning, advertising, and hands on assistance, you can have a profitable sale yourself without hiring an outside company.  But also realize the advantages of many of these hidden costs will be incurred by the estate sale company and you can simply let them do the work.

The following 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.