A Lower Estate Sale Commission DOES NOT Mean More Money

Does a Lower Estate Sale Commission Mean More Money for You?


Estate liquidation is a booming industry. With the passing of seniors and the downsizing of a generation, there is a huge demand for estate sale firms. Most people don’t have the time or emotional energy to deal with disposing of an estate (which is essentially a full-time job in and of itself), so they look to these businesses to help “get the job done.” Estate sale companies, from large corporations to Mom & Pop enterprises, are sprouting up like dandelions in a flowerbed all across the country. Competition on this scale means more competitive pricing, which means that customers can get the same service for less… right?  Wrong!

It’s easy to overlook that there is no regulation of the estate sale industry.  Anyone, literally anyone, can put up a sign or create a website and call themselves an “Estate Liquidator.”  However, that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.  No licensing, experience, education, or referrals are required. Are you going to let a stranger without credentials come into your home or a family member’s home to take charge of the contents?

…operating with bare-bones boilerplate contracts or a “gentlemen’s agreement”

…without standards of practice or standard bookkeeping practices

…with workers paid off the books with no training in security management, salesmanship or connoisseurship

…only deal in cash

…mis-identify or overlook objects of value

…conduct inadequate research before pricing

underprice items because they “get paid anyway”

overprice items and remove them after the sale to resell themselves at the “right” price

…limited marketing

…using masking tape instead of price tags or leaving items unmarked

…posting unclear, unedited photos on the Internet

…without follow-up or follow-through practices

No.  You almost always get what you pay for.  You don’t hire professionals because it costs you; you hire professionals because it pays. Anyone can call himself or herself a professional and take your money.

The truth is that a lot of estate sale companies fake or misrepresent their accreditations or association memberships.  Research the companies you are contemplating hiring. Remember that joining a health club doesn’t make you physically fit.

  • A Successful Sale System, including Advanced Marketing Techniques
  • Current Accredited Membership status in ASA (American Society of Appraisers)
  • Current Certified Membership status in the AAA (Appraisers Assn. of America)
  • College or Master’s Degrees from Respected Universities in Related Fields
  • Continuing Education
  • Liability and Workmen’s Comp Insurances
  • References from Peers & Business Professionals

The right Estate Sale Team earns their higher commission because they put in more people, more time, more expertise, conduct better staging, conduct better marketing AND THUS produce the highest possible prices.

The right Estate Sale Team earns their higher commission because they have the education, expertise and skills. They identify the characteristics of value of your objects, price them properly and sell them in the most appropriate, timely fashion in a fiduciary capacity.

This methodology will consistently produce the most amount of money for the client.

Many people only have “what’s your commission?” in their mind during the interview process.  It’s human nature to seek the best deal; the lowest commission is the obvious determinate. However, overlooking the fact that the lowest commission typically produces the lowest possible end result is a serious error.  The right question to be posed is “what services do I get for your commission?” If a commission percentage or payment structure seems too good to be true, it probably is. After all, how can one company afford to undercut their competitors?

Yet, every day, companies drop their commission rates to woo clients.  It is a very competitive industry. You must specifically ask what service(s) they’re dropping along with the percentage.  Whether they admit it or not, the cutting of services naturally ensues during negotiation, whether it’s devoting less time and effort to research, marketing, staging or the sale conduct itself, or hiring fewer salespeople or porters.

There are 100s of components that go into the proper conduct of a sale.  What service aspects are you willing to give up?

Before you hire, do your research. You will be glad that you did.

For your Estate Sale needs, contact Lauren Magnusson today.


Co-Authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator

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