O.K.; you’ve been appointed Executor of the Estate. You don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse. There is a stack of bills to pay: utilities, mortgage, funeral expenses. Heirs and relatives are clamoring for “their share”. Before the bills can be paid, you have to collect all the money that is due the deceased, and liquidate all the possessions that won’t be distributed to heirs. What’s the best way to liquidate the furniture? The clothes? Kitchenware? The lawnmower? The car?
In this article, I’ll discuss 16 ways that an Estate Executor can turn Estate Personal Property into cash so that the bills can be paid and the Estate settled. They are:
1. Estate (tag) sale: These sales are run by tag sale companies, and are done inside the deceased’s home. For a percentage of the proceeds, a tag sale company will come in and sort, tag, price and display everything in the home. From the grand piano all the way down to a half can of Ajax, everything gets a tag and a price. The sale will be advertised and promoted. On the day of the sale, buyers will take a number and be admitted into the house a few at a time. When one buyer leaves, another is admitted. The tag sale company will handle all the money and provide an accounting of what was sold, and for how much. they will also handle price negotiations with the buyers. It is rare that everything in the house is sold at a tag sale. There will be a fair amount of stuff left over to dispose of.
2. “Dealer Only” tag sale: These are estate sales that are promoted as a private sale to dealers in antiques, jewelry, books, and collectibles. The sale is run by a tag sale company and is conducted in the decedent’s home.
3. On-site auction: At an on-site auction, everything in the house is taken outside in the yard to be displayed and sold. Often, the auction company will provide tents, seating, and porta-potties for the crowd. The auction company will handle all the advertising and promotion. The auction “block” will be set up and everything will be sold to the highest bidder. There is seldom anything left after an auction.
4. Gallery auction: If your estate is to be sold at an auction gallery, everything in the house that is saleable will be picked up and moved to the gallery, where it will be sold to the highest bidder. Auction galleries will seldom take “run-of-the-mill” consumer goods that could be purchased for pocket change at a thrift store. Galleries are interested in high-end products.
5. Online auction (ebay, etc): Online auctions are good for small items that are easy to ship, or for large, expensive items (like boats, cars, or RV’s) that buyers are willing to travel to pick up. You can list the items yourself or, for a fee, hire a company to photograph, list, sell, pack, and ship your items. You can find a list of “third party sellers” on ebay.
6. Half.com: www.half.com is an online service that is affiliated with ebay. New and used merchandise is offered for sale. Unlike ebay, there is no bidding; items are offered at a fixed price and can be purchased directly online. Nine categories of merchandise are offered for sale: books, music, movies, video games, software, electronics, sporting goods, trading cards, and toys.
7. Amazon.com: If you have a collection of books to sell, nothing beats Amazon. You can list your books for free, amazons commissions are reasonable, and they will deposit the money right into your checking account.
8. Retailer sale: Items that are commonly purchased used (cars, pianos, guns, musical instruments) are often purchased by retailers that sell the same items new. You can call the dealer directly, tell him what you’ve got, and he’ll usually make you an offer. Dealers like to have some used items around for customers that don’t want to buy new.
9. Consign to broker: Boats and boat trailers are often sold by yacht & boat brokers. You can find them in the yellow pages under “yacht brokers”.
10. Newspaper classified: You can list anything for sale in the newspaper classifieds. The downside is, newspaper classified ads are expensive, and someone has to be available to answer the phone and show the property offered for sale.
11. Craigslist: Craigslist is a popular online advertising site. You can list your items for free at www.craigslist.org
12. Antique stores: Antique stores often buy entire estates. If you are looking for a fast sale with no fuss, this may be your best option. The downside is that this method brings only a fraction of the money that other methods bring.
13. Used furniture and appliance stores: Used furniture stores will often buy your “non-antique” furniture.
14. Consignment stores: If you must get a certain price for your property and are not in a hurry, consignment stores might be the way to go. Most consignment stores will continue to reduce an items price until it sells. My opinion is that it takes too long to sell items in a consignment store, and the prices received are no better that at an auction or tag sale.
15. Wholesale distributors: Wholesale distributors don’t usually purchase used property, but they can sometimes tell you who does. If you have used medical equipment, stair lifts, hospital beds or other hard-to-sell items, call the manufacturer or distributor and they can usually point you in the right direction.
16. Charities: If you believe that “a penny saved is a penny earned”, then donating property to charity is a way to increase the “bottom line” of your estate liquidation. Just like on your personal taxes, estate property donated to charity is a tax deduction and will net you more cash (check with your tax advisor). Be sure to use a recognized charity that will give you a receipt.
Once the property is liquidated, it’s time to clean up the house to prepare it for sale. My next post will discuss 7 ways to get the real estate sold.
Originally posted 2009-10-23 13:51:00.