When confronted with what to do with a lifetime’s worth of belongings after the death of a loved one most people we have helped had no idea where to turn. Usually, after asking a friend, attorney or even a Realtor they hear about estate sale or liquidation services.

Really, there are two main ways that families handle the liquidation of household contents after a loved one dies or moves to a senior care or retirement facility.


Estate Sale or Estate Auction?

First, there is an Estate Auction. This can be a good solution for a small percentage of estates that consist of very specific contents that do well at auctions, but the commission for these are also very high. Some auctions are held in the home, while others are doe at the Auction House of just the items the auctioneers want. Often, this means the extra money that might be made when you have ideal items is eaten up by auction fees.

The Second and more recent liquidation solution is called an Estate Sale or sometimes a tag sale. This is where every item is priced and “tagged” and then sold to buyers through a sale facilitated in the home itself. This type of sale, when done correctly ends with 80% or more of the contents gone and good revenue for the family.

Not Like This, by the way

The best companies advertise the same way…or should.

All the best estate sales companies in Michigan use the internet, email and other modern advertising methods to bring in buyers to your sale. There are a number of websites that have make this part of the job much easier. Good Estate Sales companies will also have their own email list and social media following. It goes without saying they will also place professional signs near the home on the days of the sale.


Free Estate Sale Evaluation.

Every reputable professional estate sale company will come to your home and evaluate the feasibility of a sale at no cost. They should also be able to make a basic assessment of what they believe the sale could bring in. This amount does not mean your sale will even come close to that, but experienced estate sale experts will not hold a sale they do not believe will make a good profit for the family.


A Great Estate Sale Company works for the client only…no resale or consignment shops.

Many estate sale companies also do buy outs, consignments or own their own resale stores. This can often create a conflict of interest as they may get more money if they pay less to the family. Better companies only do estate sales and contract directly with the client for a percentage of the overall proceeds. They also don’t consign and try to sell your stuff elsewhere (or even try to sell other’s items in your sale.) This is the best type of contract to enter into when liquidating a home as it ties the Estate Sales company’s profit into the success of the sale.


Don’t let just anybody do your estate sale— do your due diligence – try some of these questions-

Getting started in Estate sales is relatively easy and requires little or no experience. The best way to avoid getting burned is do you due diligence on the company. See how long they’ve been in business. Look at their website – Is it professional? Are there customer reviews? Do they have a Social Media presence on Facebook or Linked In? What are people saying about them? Are they bonded and insured? Can they give you a list of references to call from happy past customers? How do they look when they come to your home? Do they have a professional presentation and answer all your questions?