Business Overview

Estate sale companies are also sometimes known as estate liquidation or tag sale companies. The purpose of the business is to undertake all responsibilities for finding buyers, in a single or multi-day event, for most of the possessions in a home or business. Clients typically deal with estate sale companies when they want to quickly dispose of the contents of an estate, possibly due to the death of loved ones, divorce or simply to expedite a quick relocation.

Who is this business right for?

You should be able to ascertain the true value of furniture, art, antiques, collectibles, electronics, books, household appliances, office equipment and other paraphernalia of an estate in transition. Sometimes this will mean taking time to research sale items for hidden value or proper pricing. You should also be able to sell yourself and your company to three separate market segments:

  • The clients whose estates you’ll liquidate
  • Referrers such as real estate agents and probate attorneys, who can recommend you to their clients who might become your clients
  • The buyers who’ll attend your estate sales

These are three very different audiences, and all must be approached in very different ways. You might find buyers by placing ads in local media and in connecting with individuals who regularly buy estate items, whereas you could meet your referrers while networking in more professional settings.

And finally, you must have the organizational and crowd control skills to create and manage the sale, lead a team, and work well under pressure.

What happens during a typical day at an estate sale company?

No two days look alike, but here are some of your typical daily responsibilities:

  • Meet, stay in contact with and build good working relationships with the individuals who can recommend your services to potential clients. These referrers might include real estate agents, appraisers and probate or bankruptcy attorneys.
  • Write and run digital and/or print ads to alert the buying public about upcoming estate liquidation sales.
  • Hire and train employees to handle the various elements of the business, from appraising sale items and attracting clients to organizing and conducting sales events and moving large items, as needed.
  • Quote prices and get contracts signed for estate sale.
  • Conduct estate sales.

What is the target market?

Your clients will be individuals who wish to liquidate most or all of the contents of a home or business. One customer profile would be the heirs of the estate of a recently deceased parent. Another could be a homeowner who wishes to quickly downsize upon the death of a spouse or financial burdens. Or a couple going through a divorce.

In fact, the industry mantra is that the clientele comes from the four D’s: Death, Divorce, Debt, and Downsizing. As a result, at least some of your clients might be emotionally raw and need to be handled with sensitivity. So diplomacy is an important character trait. It should also be noted that, though the term “estate” sounds like most of your clients will be wealthy, that’s not necessarily the case. Estate sale companies can handle assignments of all sizes.

How does an estate sale company make money?

Your compensation will usually be derived as a percentage of total gross sales, ranging from about 25 to 50 percent. If the estate is small, your compensation might also be based on fees for marketing the sale, staging the event, cleanup or other elements of the assignment.

What is the growth potential for an estate sale company?

Since families are generally smaller and spread farther apart than they used to be, it is more difficult for people to pick up, transport, and claim ownership of their parents' belongings after their parents pass. Therefore, there is an increase in the number of unclaimed items that can be sold by estate sale companies.

That’s good news, as this New York Times articles shows. Unfortunately, the word has gotten out, and you’ll also find more competition for estates now than even a few years ago. Therefore, while there are more estates in search of companies like yours than ever before, you must be aggressive about getting the business. Make sure you website stands out and attracts clients and that you maintain excellent relationships with referrers.