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Blue Moon Estate Sales FranchiseBlue Moon Estate Sales Franchise
organized estate sale

by David Blue

Which second hand market place is right for you to sell with?

Estate liquidation is becoming a big business and understanding how to maximize the proceeds of your homes contents can be the difference between a vacation to paradise or a snickers bar at the gas station. Knowing exactly what you will be walking into is extremely important when starting the process of estate liquidation. Blue Moon Estate Sales wants to give you the tools to be successful selling in the secondary market.

Consignment Stores and Sales

What does consignment really mean?

When someone chooses to sell their goods at a consignment store they are making the shop owner the point of sale. Consignment is really just asking a third party to sell your items at their storefront or weekend sale. In return for their services they will receive a percentage of each item sold.

What is the difference between a consignment store and sale?

Consignment storefronts have a limited amount of space and generally have lower foot traffic through the store. Inventory turnover rates can be slow, but with limited selection your items will be featured. Limited space and low inventory turnover makes consignment stores very picky and will only take higher end items. Items consigned are usually given a maximum of 90 days with a large price reduction coming every couple of weeks until the item is sold or taken back by the original owner.

Consignment sales are 2-4 day sales usually ran in churches, school gymnasiums, civic centers, or any building with a large open area. Items are dropped off at the site of the sale and will be placed on display with all the other items. With a short sale, and a large buyers network most items will be sold. It always varies but to enter items into the sale will cost $10-20 and up to a 40% commission charge.

Both consignment stores and sales can work to liquidate a small percentage of items in your home. Consignment stores are looking for higher quality big ticket and interesting items such as leather furniture, buffets, small collectables, and precious metals. To get top dollar try and fix any issues yourself before placing the item on consignment. Consignment sales will work with lower end and smaller household items such as baby clothes, toys, and kitchenware.

Online Auction/Estate Sales

The newest trend in the local second hand market place is online auction and estate sales. Online auctions have been around for quite a while with the most common being eBay. There are several websites similar to eBay but operate within a local community or city instead of a national scale.

How do the online auctions and estate sales work?

Online estate sales begin by calling up a company to evaluate the contents of the home. The representative will then decide if there are any items of value in the home and place pictures and descriptions of each item on their own website. Once items are sold the company will ship each item to its respective buyer. The cost of shipping is usually paid for by whoever purchased the item. Auctions usually have a starting bid of 1$, while estates sales will price each item at fair market value. For both online auctions and estate sales, a time limit is placed on each sale and items that do not sell will be either returned to the owners, donated, or thrown in the trash. Online auctions and online estate sales will take off 30-40% commission.

What is all sold in online auctions and estate sales?

Online auctions and estate sales have a huge variety of inventory ranging from crystal stemware to gardening tools.  Auctions are great as a buyer with a huge potential to find a hidden gem at a heavily discounted price. As a seller auctions are risky because you completely give up control of getting fair market value for each item sold. There is potential for a bidding war to inflating the price but more often then not items will go for under market value. Usually the top 10-20% of your stuff will find it’s way to another home leaving you the options to donate or throw away the remaining items.

Auctions have a high risk of not getting fair market value especially on common and less desirable items. Online estate sales will sell items at a fair market value but usually only take the higher end items of the household. Sales will last between one to two weeks depending on the company you choose.

Will I be able to liquidate my entire home using online auctions and estate sales?

A major problem with online auctions and estate sales comes in from not being able to remove the lower end items in the home. There is a lots of potential in the lower valued but still desirable items of the house that end up being donated or disposed of. Another issue is the limited network of buyers that the online auction and estate sale companies have. Companies are based out of local markets and are relying on consumers to find their website. Online estate sales and auctions have started to pop up within the last two years and with such a new market comes a limited buyers network. If you have the time and a collection of very high end or rare household items, auctions and estate sales could be a good way to start downsizing your home.

Traditional Estate Sales

There are thousands of estates happening every weekend across the country but most people are still confused of how they actually work. Estate sales are very often associated with the death of a loved one but here at Blue Moon Estate Sales we have found this to no longer be case. Most clients are in the baby boomer generation looking to downsize with only about 15% of sales due to death. With billions of dollars of used goods siting in peoples home, families are looking for a quick and efficient way to manage and remove valuable home goods so they can move forward with their day to day lives.

How do estate sales work and how can I decide what company to use?

Estate sales turn an individual home into a professional sales setting for 1-4 days depending on the size and amount of items in the house. To start the process of finding an estate sale company but please make sure you do your homework and do not just search on the web and hire a company. There will be several companies to choose from, but understand that most companies are small mom and pop shops with a high variability of service. Ask to speak to former clients and if possible attend a few sales to really get a good understanding the company you plan to hire as well as the entire estate sale process. Once you have found the right company to conduct the sale, they will send out a representative to evaluate the house and decide if there is enough quantity and quality items to conduct a successful sale.

If the company wants to take you on as a client they will present with a standard sales contract. This contract should include a commission rate, usually between 30-40%, liability clauses, when they will pay you, and any extra fees that may come along with the sale. If a company wants to do a handshake deal and refuses to used signed contracts, DO NOT allow them into your home and find another company to do the sale.

What is sold at an estate sale?

Anything and everything is found at estate sales. Many common household items such as couches, bedroom sets, hand tools, and uncommon or rare collectables are often the first items to leave the house. The goal of an estate sale is to liquidate the entire contents of the home from the freezer in the garage to the baby clothes stored in the attic. Estate sales are not just for antiques and depending on the sale, many items have been recently purchased (2-4 years old) and are still in great condition.

At Blue Moon we have discovered that big ticket and exotic items sell quickly and attract buyers, but the $20 or less items is where the majority of a home’s income is. This is where using an estate sale company can really differentiate itself from consignment and the online market place. Estate sales have very few restrictions on what can be sold which allows for a bigger buyers network and bigger payouts for the home owner.

How much stuff is left over after the sale and what are my options to get rid of it?

A good estate sale company should be able to liquidate between 90-95% of the homes contents leaving little left to worry about. Many estate sale companies work with charities and buyout companies that will come in and remove the remaining contents of the home, if that is what the client desires.

The problems with traditional estate sales is the need for interesting and high quality items to draw in the big crowds. The more interesting items available, the more buyers will be attracted to the sale increasing the overall return for the home owner. Companies vary on minimum sales requirements which is something to keep in mind when looking to hire an estate liquidator.

If you have a long timeline and are able to transport everything to the store, selling items on consignment is a great way to begin downsizing higher end items of the home. It will remove the item from your home quickly but may take a few weeks or months to see a return. Online auctions and estate sales are the latest trend to the second hand market. With restrictions on what can be sold and limited traffic coming to their specific websites items can be sold far below market value and clients will be left to deal with the remaining 80% of the house. Estate sales have been around a long time and have a proven model of success.  It is a great way to liquidate everything in the home quickly and efficiently and take the weight selling 40 years worth of memories off your shoulders.


David Blue
About David Blue
organized estate sale
Which is Best: Consignment, Online Auction, Estate Sales?