Step 3 – Getting rid of all that “stuff”
Sorting 101: To keep . . . or not to keep
Sorting through household items and a lifetime of memories can be one of the most time-consuming and emotionally difficult tasks associated with any move. The Junell Home Selling Team is available to provide personalized, objective assistance in helping you organize and sort your belongings, then help you decide what to keep and what to discard, what to give away to family members and friends, what to sell, and what to donate to charity. Most importantly, we will act on your decisions promptly and efficiently.
- Many of your items will fall into one of the following classes:
- Necessities (furniture, toiletries, eating utensils, clothing, etc.)
- Family heirlooms (jewelry, furniture, china, etc.)
- Sentimental items or keepsakes (gifts, photos, souvenirs, etc.)
- Disposables (no sentimental value, not necessary for new location)
- Charitable contributions (unwanted musical instruments, craft supplies, books, etc.)
Beginning the “thinning process”
1. Focus begins with the first 3 categories—necessities, family heirlooms, and sentimental items—because these will either be packed and moved to your new location or passed along to family.
TIP + Use two different colors of Post-It® notes to classify the items that will go with you and those that will go to family members. Turn your house into a Post-It note rainbow prior to the move!
2. Items classified as family heirlooms can be passed along to appropriate parties or stored in a safe location for later distribution. It is best to have family come and pick up their items prior to completion of the estate sale contract.
TIP + In the event items cannot be removed in advance, be sure to clearly mark them “not for sale—family will pick up.” If you are planning to hold an estate sale, you should specifically exclude these items in the written estate sale contract.
3. Sentimental items should be sorted, prioritized, and then packed for the move, packed for storage, or given to other family members who might appreciate having them.
TIP + Some items should NOT be stored unless climate/temperature-controlled areas are used.
4. Disposable items are those items neither you nor other family members will need or appreciate. These items will go into the estate sale or auction.
TIP + No need to organize, sort, or clean these items during your move. The estate liquidators will take care of emptying cabinets, drawers, garages, storage buildings, attics, etc. Many prefer that you not try to help them with this task.
5. Donations and charitable contributions are items that can be used (or resold) by a charity of your choice. Call early to confirm a pick-up date and time for your donations, and have them ready to go!
TIP + Some estate sale companies will also handle this task on your behalf after the sale. It applies to items that do not sell and for which you have given them permission to donate to your chosen charity.
TIP + Be sure to get a receipt for tax purposes, or arrange to have the estate sales company do it for you.
6. There are very few things that will be considered purely trash. Aside from old butter dishes, most items can be sold in the estate sale.
TIP + Consider contacting a shredding company to pick up and destroy your old tax returns, outdated legal papers, and any other unneeded documents that contain important personal and/or financial information (such as checks, banking statements, etc.).
Turn those unwanted items into cash $$$
Once you’ve divided your household items into the various categories, it’s time to turn disposable items—namely, those things neither you nor your family want or need—into cash. An estate sale or estate auction, when organized by an established, professional company, is the preferred method for liquidating your belongings in the most effective and expedient manner possible. Once the sale has been completed, homeowners can the proceeds to offset moving expenses, to invest in a new residence, to add to their savings, or to donate to a charitable cause.
Estate sales and estate auctions
Estate sales are often associated with the sale of a home’s contents when the homeowner has passed away. This is actually not the case, as most estate sales occur when the homeowner has moved and is downsizing. There are many benefits to holding an estate sale.
1. Estate sale companies set up your items to sell, price them accordingly, monitor the sales as well as the flow of traffic, and provide security and extra personnel on hand to deter theft as the sale take place. They will arrange for appropriate permits and advertise your sale in advance, to ensure a high flow of traffic.
2. When setting up, estate sale companies will ask you to leave all the items you want sold in the estate sale exactly where they are. All you need to focus on during your move is taking what you want and need with you, while everything else can remain in its place. This means no sorting and arranging items you no longer want. As an example, you can simply leave your 45-piece set of china in the cabinet and the estate sale company will take care of cleaning and display of it to maximize proceeds for you. Estate sale companies also recommend that you not discard any items—allow them to be the judge of what should be thrown away, taking the guesswork out of the equation for you.
3. Estate sale companies know how to price items based on current market value. Your old and tarnished teapot that belonged to your great grandmother may appear worthless to you, but to a trained and professional eye, it could be worth hundreds. Most companies are staffed with personnel who have been professionally trained in the field of antiques and appraisals, and their experience will help you net more money, since they can price goods at their correct market value.
4. If you hold a garage sale, you will be responsible for cleaning your home and disposing of items remaining after the sale. In comparison, if you have an estate sale, the company will organize those details for you. They can arrange for either a donation or “buy-out” of remaining goods, and you will receive either the tax-deductible receipt from the charity, or the proceeds from the buy-out. They will “broom-clean” your home after the sale, making sure all items have been removed.
5. If you have an idea of the amount you want to net on a particular piece, you can request that the estate sale company set a “reserve” on that item. Then, if it does not sell for the amount you set, you can keep that specific piece, instead of selling it for less.
6. Estate sale companies generally charge 30% to 35% commission straight off the gross proceeds received from the sale. If items are transported off site to be sold elsewhere, additional fees are charged. When deciding between an estate sale or a garage sale, consider that when items are priced accordingly, you will net more from an estate sale, even after paying the commission, than you would receive holding a garage sale on your own (and you won’t have to do as much work!).
7. Estate auctions work a little differently, although in general, the cost is the same. Such auctions can be held on site or off site, usually at the auctioneer’s place of business.
On site auctions are similar to estate sales, except items are not priced in advance. Instead, items are placed in a strategic location (usually the front yard) and are auctioned off in an order pre- determined by the auctioneer. When liquidating a large estate, it is more practical and efficient to have an estate sale or an on site estate auction.
Off site sales can be advantageous when the sale is not extensive and items can be easily transported to the auction house. The auctioneer will meet with you at your home, look at the things you want to sell, and then arrange for your items to be boxed and transported to his site (usually a warehouse where auctions are held weekly). He’ll then schedule your auction and will advertise the date, just as estate sale companies do. The biggest difference between an estate sale and an auction is, you must have your items set aside, prepared to be hauled away, rather than being able to leave them onsite.
8. Estate auctions typically charge between 25% and 35% of the gross proceeds, with the net amount comparable to that of an estate sale. There is normally a transportation fee for removing items from your home, depending on the location and amount of items transported.
9. The main factor to consider in a decision between an estate sale or estate auction is time. If you are selling your home and plan to move immediately before the sale closes and the new buyers take possession, there will not be enough time to hold an estate sale. It can take as long as a week to a month of preparation to hold an estate sale. The key to making your decision will be to look at your calendar, determine whether you can move out of your home a few weeks early or if you need to remain until the last possible day. Your timeframe will help you determine which course of action—an estate sale or auction—you should take.
10. Remember, there is a big difference between “market value” and “resale value.” Often we expect that the price we paid for an item will determine its sale value later. Most household items depreciate in value, however, with the exception of some antiques and collectibles. Your 20-year-old refrigerator may not bring $20, if it sells at all, while your old sleeper sofa could be donated to charity in exchange for an end-of-year tax deduction. The old pot you’ve been using in your garden for years, however, might net $50, if it’s highly collectible. This example illustrates why we recommend using professional and reputable estate sale companies or auctioneers to determine the value of your household items, rather than disposing of them on your own.