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What Are The Disadvantages Of Estate Sales?

13 reasons why estate sales aren't the best way for you to clear your home

by Christopher Lancette

The disadvantages of estate sales include the fact that few people want outdated brown furniture like this dresser and mirror.There’s a dark side to the world of estate sales that a lot of estate sale companies don’t want you to know about. We go out of our way not to run estate sales anymore, so we’re happy to share our insight about what are the disadvantages of estate sales. (Spoiler alert, there’s also a better way to go!) If you’re an estate executor or family member now forced to clear a home so that you can get it sold, you should carefully consider the question “What are the disadvantages of estate sales?”

In most cases, you’ll find the headaches and risks just aren’t worth it. That’s where we come in. Our estate liquidation and home cleanout services let you skip all the stress and go straight to the sale of your empty house!

Top 13 Disadvantages of Conducting Estate Sales:

  1. Estate sales delay the time it takes you to put your home on the market. Sales take time to prepare and conduct. This means you’re delaying the big payday of selling a home by anywhere from one month to several months or more.
  2. Estate sale attendees are often unruly bunches who don’t think twice about damaging your home. They’ll scrape your floors, bang your walls, clog your toilets, break things, and more. This applies to online estate sales as well. Few if any companies provide trained staff to carry bulky objects out of your home. (We used to staff our sales with a great many more team members than our competitors. We provided haulers whose only job was to carefully remove items from clients’ homes and deposit them at buyers’ vehicles.)
  3. Estate sales involve a lot of financial risk for you. Estate sale companies should voluntarily tell you what kind of insurance they carry. They should make clear who’s responsible if someone gets hurt at your sale. They should tell you who is responsible for damage done to your home, etc.
  4. It’s often very easy for shoppers to steal from estate sales as many estate sale companies employ so few staff at the events. (Again, we staffed our sales heavily. We also often brought in off-duty police officers to guard the sales and protect the homes.)
  5. Many estate sales are going to end with much, if not most, of your big, brown, heavy furniture still sitting there. The same goes for modern furniture. (Different story for Mid-century modern.) That etagere you paid $10,000 for just a few years ago? Don’t be shocked when no one wants it today. This means you’re going to have to deal with it, or pay a company to take it.
  6. A lot of other items won’t sell, either, and you’re going to get stuck with those, too. (See our antiques and collectibles what’s hot and what’s not list for a quick market overview.) The same goes for donations and trash. Many estate sale companies simply walk away when the sale is over and leave the mess to you.
  7. Estate sales should never be conducted in a home that is still occupied. It’s not safe for the person living there. Even locking doors to keep people out of certain rooms can be tough as determined people will find a way to get in.
  8. Estate sales pose additional security risks by making it public knowledge that a home is sitting empty.
  9. There are relatively few highly competent and credible estate sale companies in most areas – and figuring out who they are isn’t easy. Many of the best companies including ours (when we ran estate sales regularly) won’t even offer to take you on unless we are confident we can sell at least $10,000 in two days – not an easy task. We wouldn’t touch one today for less than $15,000.
  10. Less-than-reputable estate sale companies are often less-than-forthright about all of their charges. Good estate sale companies today charge 40 to 50-percent commission rates. Others may offer 30 percent. But watch out for hidden fees including set-up charges, fees for not reaching minimum sales, etc. You can easily end up owing an estate sale company money by the time you’re done.
  11. Online estate sale companies don’t always make their proposed work perfectly clear, either. Many will tell you that it is your responsibility to get the home and all of its contents neatly arranged and divided into group lots so that they can then quickly walk in, photograph, and leave. If you’re unable to do that work, and most people don’t have the muscle or expertise to do it, online estate sales companies will suggest you hire someone to do the work. You’re in the red before you even get started.
  12. Most online estate sale companies operate as auctions. This means all items and group lots start at $1.
  13. Estate sales are great ways to annoy your neighbors. Good estate sale companies are going to attract big crowds, and you need to live on a street with ample parking to pull them off. You also need to take extra precautions to keep shoppers from blocking your neighbors’ driveways and parking on the edges of their lawns. HOAs don’t often even allow them. Nor do condos, high-rises, and other buildings.

How to Avoid the Disadvantages of Estate Sales

A copy of Amazing Spider-Man No. 300 enclosed in a hard plastic case and professionally graded.Avoid all the risk and stress by hiring Orion’s Attic to provide our estate liquidation and home cleanout service. Our caring, eco-friendly services get your house clear in a flash, with none of the disadvantages of estate sales.

We charge a labor fee and then remove everything from your home. You get the money from what we’re later able to sell through auctions, specialty dealers like our fine jeweler friends at Paradigm Experts, our network of big-time collectors, and more. You get the tax receipts from what we take to charity for you. We haul away the trash — and go to great lengths to avoid putting items in landfills. We recycle 100 percent of all scrap metal and old electronics on our jobs, and we recycle as much of the rest as we can. Orion’s Attic properly disposes of household chemicals. — and we even take food to food banks.

Learn what you need to know about selling your home’s treasures in our Estate Liquidation and Downsizing Guide.

Contact us today and let us know how we can be of help.

A typical light-oak colored grandfather clock with sun and moon motif at the top of the clock.

Grandfather clocks sell about as fast as sap drips down a tree.

Orion’s Attic is a full-service estate liquidation, downsizing and home cleanout company based in Silver Spring, Maryland. We also buy antiques and collectibles.  We serve Montgomery County (Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Potomac, Rockville, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Takoma Park, etc.), Baltimore County, Frederick County, Howard County, Prince George’s County,  and the greater metro Washington D.C., Maryland, Northern Virginia) area.

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