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Recently, I was consulted on the sale of a beautiful home in trust on 25th Avenue in San Francisco. The trustee, supported by her only remaining family member who flew in from the East Coast, was preparing to move to an assisted living facility.

The home was bursting with more than 40 years of accumulated furniture, antiques, Asian art and memorabilia. The trustee and her granddaughter were evaluating options for disposing of the possessions before selling the house.

Say no to the traditional estate sale
The seller was considering the usual, and I’d say greatly outdated, way of divesting of household items–an estate sale. Here is what I asked her to keep in mind:

  • Cost – Most estate sale facilitators charge at least 50% of the gross revenue from the sale
  • Security and liability – prospective buyers are free to traipse through grandma’s home, rummaging through her possessions
  • Return – displaying items in a jumble of piles and boxes doesn’t convey their full value and often doesn’t result in the best prices
  • Time – generally a five to eight week process, consisting of:
    • two to three weeks to get the start date scheduled
    • one to two weeks to inventory the home, establish pricing, advertise and prepare for the sale
    • two weeks for the sale, when the home is open on designated days
    • one more week of cleaning, packing and shipping or disposal of the remaining unsellable inventory

It goes against my principles
Granted, an old-school estate sale eventually clears out the house. But I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it. In this case, it would have allowed $12,000-worth of personal property to hold hostage, for weeks, a $1.33MM home.And, in the end, the estate would only realize $6,000 after the estate sale service took their share.

I always offer clients my streamlined, higher-return alternative. And this client, like most, agreed to the plan.

We brought in a team of experts to minimize the turnaround time, maximize the estate’s return, and empty the home. And boom, in no time it was done–right down to the last drapery and piece of carpeting. From start to finish it was seven days till the house was completely vacated.

The auction specialist evaluated the contents of the home and offered an appropriate amount for the general items, including (I was floored) cups, saucers, flatware, pots, pans, etc. They were happy to take it all. After sorting and cleaning the items they go up for auction off site.

The Asian art expert reviewed and tagged relevant pieces and provided an inventory list, along with their expected sales price at an off-site professional auction. We compared his values with the insurance appraisals and found them more consistent than not.

The mover was part of the crew. He packed, shipped and otherwise tore out everything to be hauled, recycled or otherwise discarded. This included (again, I was really relieved) all the curtains, rods, carpets and padding/tack strips.

By day 10, we were ready to start painting and resurfacing the entire home so it would be fresh and inviting to buyers. The entire process was very productive and refreshingly fast paced, in the best interest of helping the trustee move on with her life.

Benefits to the trustee

  • Almost twice the net sales proceeds compared to an estate sale
  • 10 days of work instead of 60
  • Saved over a month of mortgage, insurance and tax payments
  • All of the sales and related operations took place off site

Let me help someone you care about have a better and more financially rewarding experience in clearing out and selling their home. Get in touch