Tips For Making The Most You Can With An Estate Sale

An easy way to dispose of personal belongings quickly, estate sales have long served as a gathering spot for antiquers and shopping enthusiasts. These events are similar to yard and garage sales but differ in terms of size and location. According to True Legacy Homes, yard sales and garage sales occur outside of the home and usually last a day, while estate sales can last several days and typically occur within every room of a house. In addition, estate sales tend to sell pricier items that are difficult to transport or could face irreparable damage if exposed to the elements outdoors, says Trust & Will.

A homeowner can arrange an estate sale for several reasons, but they are most commonly held in the aftermath of a death. These sales require a lot of effort to bring to life and are nearly impossible to take on single-handedly. Luckily, there are many steps potential hosts can take to alleviate the burdens that come with managing such a large operation. If you're thinking of having an estate sale in the future due to a job relocation, sudden move, or the passing of a loved one, here are some tips to ensure your event will be successful.

Hire an estate sale company

Estate sales require a lot of time, energy, and patience to operate, especially when managing a large home with an overwhelming number of sale items. Instead of running the event yourself, hire a professional estate sale company to take care of the hard work for you. According to, these companies will appraise and price items to be sold inside the home and determine where to send or donate items that are left behind. Estate sale companies will also operate the events themselves, ensuring workers are available to maintain order, check out customers, and resolve concerns for shoppers.

You may feel paying for an estate sale company is a waste of money, but if a job is large and physically demanding, you may feel the charge is worth the convenience. Since much of the estate sale industry operates off of commissions, the average company may ask for 20 to 50% of the estate sale's total earnings, per Juris Auctions. When looking for a company to work with, either browse the internet or ask a trusted real estate agent for recommendations. Clients can prepare interview questions and schedule consultations to find a company that meets their demands. To sift out scammers, advises that legitimate estate sale companies will never ask for a payment upfront. These companies will only ask for payment after the sale is over and a proper commission can be calculated.

Clean and restage the home

Leaving a home arranged the way you or the previous owner left it may be tempting, but such an arrangement might make hosting an estate sale more challenging. True Legacy Homes states that estate sales tend to draw large crowds to the extent that a line develops outside the home even hours before the event's start. If needed, rearrange rooms in the house to accommodate multiple shoppers at a time.

Cleaning and organizing the home will not only make shoppers' browsing experience easier, but it will also make the house, and the items inside, appear more desirable. The same protocol should be applied to sale items, as well. says hosts should clean merchandise beforehand to make it look more appealing to buyers. This can include washing dishes, polishing silverware, and vacuuming rugs. Lighting also drastically affects the way shoppers view sale items. Brighten naturally dark rooms with lamps and other interior light fixtures to give customers a better view of what you're selling.

Plan in advance

If you want an estate sale to be successful, don't wait until the last minute to plan! There are many steps involved in preparing a house for an estate sale, including setting up for customers, valuing and pricing all sale items, and advertising the event in the approaching weeks. If you don't intend on acquiring a company's help, begin planning your estate sale even further in advance since more responsibility falls upon you to set the event into motion.

Busy Beever recommends scheduling an estate sale during the winter months, even though they can be held year-round regardless of weather conditions. This is because winter is the time of year estate sale companies are most available. An approaching holiday season can also prompt more shoppers to peruse your sale. 

It's also important to set ground rules for your sale well before the event, so you can better organize a pleasurable shopping experience for customers. While shoppers generally follow a basic, unspoken list of rules regarding etiquette when browsing estate sales, per Invaluable, every sale is different, and some may require additional guidelines to ensure order is kept. For example, if you know your sale will feature fragile and expensive items, like fine china or pottery, plan to request shoppers to be gentle or ask for assistance when handling them.

Make payments easy

Every step of the shopping experience should be made simple for buyers, especially the payment process. In years past, shoppers typically had three options to choose from when paying for merchandise: Cash, check, or credit card. Now, shoppers can pay for products electronically, via mobile services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, or through third-party smartphone applications. Diversify the payment options you'll offer so that your estate sale can attract as many potential customers as possible. 

Also, arrange your sale's layout, so the check-out station is conveniently placed within the home. According to, hosts should develop an action plan that considers crowd flow and marks a path for customers to follow as they meander throughout the home. Positioning the check-out area near the home's designated exit will make it easier for paid customers to leave without interrupting those who are still shopping. Some hosts may need more than one cashier or check-out station to keep their estate sale's crowd flow intact.