Estate Sales and Estate Liquidation

I’m Dave Kelly Director of
Advanced Media Production at Cal State Long Beach today
we’re going to talk about the rising popularity and
abundance of estate sales my guess today is
Wayne Halbritter. Mr. Halbritter is the owner and
operator of an estate sales company known as trunk full
of treasures welcome Wayne and thank you for joining
us well we’re going to talk about the popularity of
estate sales a little bit later in the program and
we’ll talk about why there seems to be more of an
abundance as I mentioned in that open but I first want
to help our audience to understand what exactly it
is we’re talking about when we say estate sale because
the typical person might be driving down the street on
a weekend and on one street they might see a sign that
says estate sale and then they drive a little further
and then on another Street there’s a sign that says
garage sale or yard sale so give us a sense of what the
difference is between that estate sale and that yard
sale or garage sale garage sale items that you no
longer your you got a new lawn mower and you’re
getting rid of the old lawn mower that kind of stuff an
estate sale is going to be more of a family has a
situation where they have a house full of items that
they can a lot but they can’t put his part of their
own houses and so they need to liquidate the contents
of the house sell the house rent the house or do
whatever it is that they need to do with the a
physical property so we’re talking about estate
liquidation here actually and so to correlate this
with what I might be thinking about here if my
garage is getting so full of stuff that I can’t even park
a car in the garage I need to clear out the garage door
so I can get the car in there that’s the garage sale
estate sale is everything goes in the house because
something is going on to liquidate that estate
absolutely we jokingly say but we’ve literally sold
in an estate sale we’ve literally sold everything
from Rock Store resale clothing resale Furniture
artwork jewelry whatever it is that needs to be removed
from the house so that the family can do what I need to
do with and so if someone wants to liquidate an estate
through an estate sale what are some advantages there
are doing it through an estate sale as opposed to
just hiring somebody to come in and just take everything
out you’re going to get a frankly during to get more
money as opposed to paying to have it thrown away and
I’ve actually had client people I met they said gosh
we wish we’d known about you six months ago our family
member passed away and they family members pay it went
to the funeral they came back they each took a few
pieces what they want and the rest of it was put in a
20 yard dumpster which is a shame to hear because
there’s stuff that people can actually continue to use
& in the way that I say it to customers that visit me
is like we’re giving the next person an opportunity
to love it as much as your family member did get out
that chair that your Grandma loved is now going into a
new home that someone else can love just as much and
continue using it that I even brought up a good point
in terms of you first meet a customer or potential client
who you’re going to conduct an estate sale for what are
some important points that you go over in that initial
contact and what should an estate Liquidator like
yourself do in terms of setting it up so everybody
is on the same page I think it’s important that the
customer excuse me the client my client by the
first thing I asked him to do is go through the house
and make sure that they have all of their tax paperwork
any of that kind of him the stuff I invite them to take
pictures photos any of the items that they definitely
want to keep remove that out of the house and then what
we’re going to do is we’re going to come through and
we’re going to process the house we pull everything
out of the cabinets and the drawers and the closet we
bring in tables we bring in display cabinets if we need
a jewelry case we bring in that we organize it we price
it we sell it and at the end of the sale they have an
empty house and they’re going to have the
satisfaction of knowing that they’re having at least a
little impact on the the landfill that way you have
to sign a contract or you should absolutely sign a
contract with a client and what’s what goes into that
contract and let’s talk for a moment about a typical
estate sale what can one expect typically from the
estate sale of average means terms of total revenue and
how does that Revenue gets split per the contract as
far as the commission goes every estate Liquidator near
some some charge a flat commission some charge a
flat commission + hourly rate for their employees to
work some some charge for their advertising or their
credit card fees or whatever and all of that needs to be
spelled out in the contract in my opinion you would want
you wouldn’t want to sign a contract and then at the end
of the day go wall what am I paying it you know so that’s
why I agree I think you absolutely need a contract
to protect both of you that just sets the expectations
for both the client end let’s talk about the typical
Revenue that generated from an average estate sale is it
in the ballpark of 10,000 15 25,000 what would you say it
is sort of like like saying how much is my car worth
it all are we selling a Volkswagen are we selling
a Ferrari sales with every sale will be different we’ve
had sales that we’ve done in the five to ten thousand
range and we’ve done sales in the 40 to 50 thousand
range horse we like those two okay so it varies yeah
alright so is there a licensing process for estate
sale operators or estate Liquidators are their
standards or is this a buyer beware kind of situation
there is at this point there is not a licensing like
a real estate agent or anything like that I believe
in the near future we are going to become regulated
industry that you have recreational how do I get
every weekend there’s another new estate sale
company out there but in answer now there’s there’s
not an actual licensing regulation although there
are some groups out there that you can join the we’re
like self-regulating that you can become a member
of and we have our own standards that we hold
ourselves to you can go ahead and name that
organization American Society of estate
Liquidators okay American Society of estate
Liquidators okay so at the moment there are no actual
license is required for estate sale operators but
there is this voluntary organization that estate
sale Liquidators can join to prove that they’re serious
about doing the business that they do which is if
I am the customer I’m the client and I want to hire an
estate sale company I want to know that that company
essentially knows what they’re doing they know what
is valuable and what’s not so valuable one how to price
appropriately so what kind of experience knowledge
expertise does an estate sale company need to have in
order to provide the maximum service and Revenue things
that that separates us from a number of estate companies
as we actually have a certified appraiser on our
team who has gone through the schooling and all that
to get her accreditation so we feel confident that we’re
not going to have someone show up on one of those
shows saying I bought this for a dollar and it’s worth
$1000000 one of the other things that I always invite
our clients to do is visit my estate sale or any of
the companies that you’re considering visit their sale
look at how they set it up look at how they price it
look good how they run things and that will kind of
give you a little bit more Comfort on the buyer beware
type of a situation because you’ll feel feel comfortable
using the the company that you choose no and television
programs similar to that where you always have this
Thunderbolt moment where someone comes on and said I
bought for $5 at an estate sale and then the estimator
or the assessor goes well you made a very good
purchase because that’s now worth $12,000 if an estate
sale Liquidator like yourself is doing due
diligence in terms of when you’re looking at all of the
items that are being offered for sale is something like
that more appropriately going to go to an AUX rather
than be available for estate sale we’re going to find the
best resource or the best venue to get the most money
for a client sometimes that’s all the good and the
bad of an auction is if there’s only one person
bidding at an auction it’s not going to go for very
much but you need to get an auction there will be a
number of times we’re finding a private collector
is going to be bring the most money for you so there
different ways to liquidate stay the estate sale is to
take care of most of the items clear everything
out and of course they’re different values for each
item bad for those very rare pieces if you have the
expertise to try to spot those and and deal with them
separately right exactly we had a situation where a
family gave us a painting she hadn’t hung it in house
for a long time and she said can you do something with
this we did the appropriate research we found out that
the best way of liquidating that was indeed an auction
and she was very happy when we sold it for $5,000 for
her so she was very happy with that generate as much
revenue as you can for your client but people coming to
estate sales want to get a good deal right so you need
to know how to price it so that is fair pricing a good
price for the client and also attract how do you
walk that fine line that’s probably the the biggest
tightrope that we walk because indeed if you know
that something’s worth this much it’s difficult to put
that price on it for the very first day because no
one’s wants to pay that you know so it’s it’s finding
that that sweet spot it is we talked about earlier the
right price that someone will come in and go that’s a
great price that’s a great deal and and oh I want that
okay go on that note we’re going to go to the break and
when we come back from the grave from the break we’ll
talk about marketing and competition from other
estate sales and why has there been such a growth in
the popularity of the state sales stay tuned is lhasa
in your future a degree in history would be perfect
major for student going in that direction perhaps you
like historic preservation or maybe government work in
a federal state or local level therapy largest
employers in the nation and they’re looking for people
with that kind of degree the opportunities are endless
welcome back to Talking Points I’m Dave Kelly and
my guess today is Wayne halbritter Wayne we were
talking about it in the first half of course and I
mentioned before we went to the break that we’re going
to talk about marketing competition and why the
sales are in more abundance and why they’re so popular
today and I have a feeling you’re going to start
by telling me about the internet so go ahead when
we started 20 years ago advertising at that point
was newspaper signage on the street corner and the
Pennysaver remember the pin now I can do an
advertisement on some of the local estate sale websites
and the benefit of that of course for the client as
well as the customer is I’m able to post photos of all
of the items in the house we like to say as we’re setting
up a sale I want to get photos of things that people
will actually stand in line for some not so worried
about organizing The Garage items the nails and screws
and bolts although cell I’m going to spend more time
making sure that they see a pottery in the glassware in
the China in the silver and all of that kind of stuff
okay and as far as the competition is concerned
a lot of other folks have discovered the internet as
well your competitors sales might there be in a 50 mile
radius or diameter of where you’re located the last week
my sale was one of about 75 estate sales within a
50-mile radius of where I was doing the sale and every
weekend every weekend it’s similar mean it is very soon
I’m happy when I’m doing a sale in there’s only Thirty
estate sales that weekend cuz I think it’s going to
be a good day and when we talked about increasing
numbers we need to take a look at some demographic
shifts that are occurring in our population we know that
about 10,000 people a day are turning 65 right now
and this one is going to continue until about 20
30 or another Dozen Years roughly to get to that
point so a lot of folks are entering their retirement
years that means that everyone’s on the same
conveyor belt as as far as that goes some estimates
that have come out from the National Association or
national estate sales and estate sales on any other
weekend can generate as much as a hundred million dollars
Nationwide so that’s a lot of money changing hands a
lot of goods being sold to estate sales every weekend
and they also estimated estate sales have increased
by estate sale companies that are in this game have
increased by about 650% since 2006 so that means a
six and a half fold increase in the number of folks that
are involved in estate liquidation with the
competition you mentioned the website photography is
it is a big part of that you talked about getting the
word out you do some also pre-marketing in the
neighborhood theme song we give out notices to all the
neighbors to let them know that we’re going to be doing
a sale we have of course we have our own email list and
these are people that have actually been to our sales
before and they say please let me know when you’re
having another one so we’ll send them an invitation to
our upcoming sales okay and so if people want to know
about estate sales they can go to
and obviously look at a particular zip code and
within 50 Mi radius break it down and even by City And
are you seeing the crowds forming a large crowds as a
result of this popularity and and the trend toward War
you’re kind of funny as we were talking during the
break how that it comes down to the stuff whatever is
in the house is going to there’s always people that
will stop just because they see a sign or or or Basie a
crowd they’ll stop for an estate sale but the hardcore
Shoppers as we like to call him there looking at the
pictures they’re looking to see what’s there and they’re
looking to co I need to add that into my collection I
want to add that into it’ll I want to buy that as a gift
for somebody and so that’s what brings them to the
estate sales okay well let’s talk about something that’s
a little less Pleasant than that is in regard to the
prospect of theft because we know that all of the major
retailers have to deal with shoplifting and particularly
the large retailers that they invest a lot of money
and security cameras and security guards and so
you’re not going to have security cameras necessarily
at an estate sale but how do you control it and make sure
that you know there’s an eye on what’s going on at all
times Alexa leaves are a number of states tell
companies that have cameras bringing cameras and all
that a number of us have armed security at the door
just as a deterrent I personally think you want to
hire a company that is going to have an adequate number
of personnel working the sale no company can
guarantee there won’t be any theft like you said but the
major retailers can’t do anything about that they can
minimize it but they can’t stop it but there are
companies that will run an estate sale with one person
the garage one at the cash register and one working the
house and then there are other companies that will
have up to we’ve done sales or we’ve had up to like 12
different people working throughout the house during
the sale and I think just just knowing that there are
eyes watching you as you shop minimizes that what
about buyers when you have a large crowd and buyers two
or three buyers all want the same item how does that work
the way we handle it is we’ll put a price on like a
large pizza on large item and there’s a card with the
price on it Whoever has the card gets to buy it if you
want the collection of Disney Belle’s you need to
put those in your basket your shopping basket that
you’re carrying and once they’re in your basket we
consider those yours what about people that have to
have attempted to sell the item once I get outside the
house cuz they see there’s a large crowd is that ever
happened I can’t stop that, but what I can do is I just
say you know what you need to take that off the
property offend me by trying to sell sell it out from
under me nothing you can do about that but there are
something bad enough actually heard a Lady Think
I’ll give you an extra $100 for that to some guy and it
is what it is okay let’s sale is over all right so if
it’s a two-day or if it’s a large estate maybe it might
be a 3-day sale right if not everything gets sold what
happens to the remaining Goods at that point our
clients the option of either a clean out meaning we have
a company comes in and they remove everything they Fox
it all up they take the furniture it’s all removed
out of the house they’re going to sweep the floors or
sweep the garage vacuum we don’t we don’t wash the
windows but we we get the house emptied in and ready
for the next stage sometimes a client will say sell what
you can leave me the rest we have a church rummage sale
coming up or so we give them the option okay and I guess
a lot of times what people don’t realize if their
buyers and going into an estate sale to buy things
they’re not really thinking about the fact that the
whole purpose of this estate liquidation is to be able to
get everything can be sold because the real I’m selling
the house and so that being the case you have an
incentive to sell as the estate sale operator you
have an incentive to sell everything and that’s the
case with all the estate sale operators so typically
you find that the last day tends to be a discount day
and the discounts will vary but they’re usually
substantial discounts on the last day of the sale and so
a lot of experience buyers will come in and look the
first day and say well I’m going to keep an eye on that
I’m coming back the last day and I’m going to buy it for
a discount what about that strategy does that work or
is that taking a big risk last weekend we did a sale
a gentleman came through it belligerently on the first
day said well I’ll just come back tomorrow when
everything’s discounted came back the next day and he
walked through the house he’s like well I can’t buy
anything everything I came back for is gone and I said
well you should have bought it yesterday so you wait at
your own Peril wait at your own Peril and as far as
pre-sales I mean I guess there are some situations
where some companies yours is not one of them but there
are perhaps some companies that may have offered some
presale items in the what do you think of how does a
pre-sale work and what do you think about that item is
is in the photographs we’re known with our experience
with our ears so people know if they see a photo of an
item in our sale and they get there at 3:30 in the
morning to be the first one in the door they know that
that items going to be there and I hear what’s being said
from the people standing in line waiting to get into
myself you know they’re saying all will we went to
so and so and five of the items we went for they said
the family came in last night and took him away and
sometimes that does happen but we just try to be
consistent and if it’s photographed it’s in the
sale very first person in the door has the opportunity
to buy so we really don’t do pre-sales okay so it’s not
going to be sold before you get to the house right okay
if it’s photographed it’s there so it’s it’s honest
marketing a few see it it’s going to be there in my
opinion okay so what about Trends in estate sales are
there some items that just you just can’t sell them
because of what they are and what they represent
technology changes and so there’s some items related
to technology that are a very difficult sale what
are some of those items technology well about the
media centers of the the old-fashioned bookcases that
you put your great big TV in they don’t sell anymore cuz
everybody has a flat screen and they hang them on the
wall so those kind of things 15-20 years ago we did
really really well with Victorian furniture early
1900s late 1800s Furniture now when it’s mid-century
modern the 1950s streamline teak that kind of stuff
that’s what’s bringing the the the money these days for
us okay one last question we only have about 20 seconds
left if someone does want to get into becoming a
proprietor of an estate sale company what do they have to
do to be able to do that I would recommend contacting
the organizations that we talked about earlier and get
some information on that and develop a thick skin and on
that note we’re going to call it an end but I want
to thank you for being here today this is been very
informative great and thank you for joining us on this
edition of Talking Points

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