Choose estate sale agents carefully


Published: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 12:06 a.m.
A garage sale has long served as a useful method for homeowners to unload in short order the excess items that a family or individual accumulates over time.
In certain situations, such as the liquidation of an inherited estate, a more complex and professional approach may be needed.
A team of estate sale professionals can help ease the process of itemizing possessions, arranging an estate sale and maximize the dollar value of sale items. Before going this route, the Council of Better Business Bureaus suggests that consumers consider the following when looking for an estate sale agent:
  • Make appointments to interview two or three agents, and compare their prices and approaches to a sale.
  • Find out how long the estate sales agent has been in business before setting up an initial consultation. Also learn in advance whether he or she is a member of professional associations, bonded and insured, and can provide professional references.
  • The agent should be willing to come to the home to offer an initial no-obligation consultation at no cost.
  • Prior to an agent's visit arrival, do not throw anything away, as you may not recognize items of value.
  • Get all fees and commissions information before hiring an agent, and any up-front or out-of-pocket costs.
  • Find out how you will be paid from sales proceeds, and if itemized lists of sold items will be provided.
    Inquire about the advertising methods the estate sale agent will use, such as flyers, neighborhood signs and client base mailings.
  • Learn about the background, qualifications and certification of the service's staff, and the method it uses for appraising and prices for valuables. Also ask how the service approaches security and how it will protect against theft during the sale.
  • Do not sign a contract unless you understand the services to be provided, out-of-pocket fees you'll be charged and how and when you'll receive payment of the sales proceeds.
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