Estate Sales 101

An estate sale is where an owner (often an Heir) decides to sell most, if not all, of the belongings owned by them. The estate sale typically takes place in the home of the owner (deceased or not) and can be a great tool for someone who is looking to downsize to move to a new location, like a nursing home. As your estate sale specialist, I can manage the cleaning, pricing, staging, promoting and selling of the items in the estate.



The most common reason for an estate sale is the death of the property owner, and the consequent need to quickly liquidate the deceased’s belongings for any number of reasons:

  • The survivors/heirs may have no interest in the bulk of the personal belongings left by the deceased
  • The survivors/heirs may just lack space to keep the belongings
  • The survivors/heirs cannot agree to the disposition of tangible property, and thus a court has ordered the goods to be sold at an estate sale with the proceeds to be divided among the survivors (after payment of the estate’s debts)
  • The will of the deceased may have mandated a sale of assets
  • An estate sale may also occur because the property owner will be moving or has moved into a new residence where he will be unable to keep his property, such as an assisted living facility, a retirement community, a rest home, or the home of a family member.
  • An estate sale may also take place because of divorce, foreclosure, or relocation.


A couple of things that may differ from a “regular” sale:

  • There may be no Seller’s Property Disclosure.  This is because the people who are selling the home most likely did not live there, and have little or no knowledge of the condition of the home.
  • The deed may be a Personal Representative Deed vs. a General Warranty Deed.  You can have your Realtor or Title Representative explain the difference.
  • If the sellers are spread throughout the state or country, the designated Realtor will be the point of contact for closing, deadlines, etc. as the title company may need to do a “mail out” to collect original, notarized signatures from the sellers on the closing documents.
  • There may be an Estate Attorney involved on the seller’s side.  This should not affect you; it is just one more player in the transaction.



Estate sales are usually conducted by a professional, for a percentage of the revenues. The liquidator may also charge the estate for the costs to give the sale, including advertising, marketing, research, labor, security, refreshments and other fees incurred in providing a successful sale.

The presence of a professional liquidator may be necessary because the scope of the process is likely to be overwhelming to the survivors. The liquidator has knowledge and experience with pricing items, and general value knowledge of all types of household goods and personal property value, and the specialist’s experience in disposing of unsold goods in an unsentimental manner after the sale. These professionals often take a percentage of the net proceeds, anywhere from 25% to 50%.


After answering the questions what is an estate sale, and addressing the motivational reasons to have one, it’s time to look at the estate sales process itself.

There are six milestones every estate sale needs to reach. Each of these has a set of attendant sub-task. Every task must be accomplished thoroughly to property generate the best income, clean out a house, and maintain a families honor and dignity.

  1. Organizing contents
  2. Displaying of items for sale
  3. Valuation and Research
  4. Marketing and Advertising of possessions
  5. Conducting the sale
  6. Cleaning out the house
  7. Home Staging and Decluttering
  8. Current and up to date Home Market value
  9. Listing the home on the market
  10. Marketing home to prospective buyers
  11. Home Sale
Selling the possessions and home of a loved one can be an emotionally draining process. The best path to take in this situation is to hire a professional to relieve some of the burdens in this difficult process.

Are you or a loved one interested in holding an Estate Sale? Allow me to help.