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Advice for Realtors

Dear Realtors: I understand how your job works (years ago, I was a Realtor) and what the home selling process is, now here is some insight into my job.

Estate Sales are all or nothing

Estate sales are something that gets done once: either before the home is listed so it is completely empty and ready for staging, or after a contract is signed and the home is emptied for closing.

Frequently, I get asked to do an estate sale before the home goes on the market, but the Realtor or home stager wants to hold back some key pieces for staging, thinking that I can come back and do a second sale that consists of a pool table, book shelves, a sectional and some beds. No, that doesn’t work, for me or your client. Dividing a sale into chunks like that is not profitable for your client and it is very disruptive. Estate sales are a one shot deal, before the house is listed or after there is a contract.

So, which is better?

Honestly, the best scenario is a home that the clients are not living in, and everything goes before the house goes on the market. But it usually can’t work that way.

All things being equal, before is better. Why? Because when your clients are getting ready to list their homes, they start madly cleaning, throwing things out, multiple trips to Goodwill, and they clear out too much stuff. It looks great for a listing but a bad estate sale. When we do a sale before the house is listed, we will sell all that stuff that you don’t want in the home when it is listed. All the client needs to do is pack up and box the items and clearly mark the furniture they would like to take to their next home, and we will handle the rest. You, the Realtor, will be left with a clean space to stage.

But the house is already on the market….

Okay, so we do it after. Your clients need to call an estate sale company the minute the contract is signed at the very latest and not wait until a week before closing (you have no idea how many times I get that phone call and it’s too late for me to help). Your clients can call me and book me while the house is on the market: I just put in my contract that the sale dates are TBD because I am waiting for the house to go under contract.

If we are doing an estate sale right before closing, it’s best that your client moves out of the house and into their new home a couple of weeks before the estate sale. If that can’t be done, then all of their stuff should either be moved out or moved into the garage or some closed off rooms.

You need to guide your client

You give your client the names of a few estate sale companies and tell them to call, but your client is frazzled and frantic and forgets and calls me a week before closing. I always ask the client when they were given my name and told to call me, and frequently the answer is a month or two ago. You gave your client names to call in a timely manner, but your client did not follow through and now it’s too late.

You need to follow up with client. Book the appointments with the estate sale companies yourself if you must. The best Realtors that I work with call me themselves and book my consultations for their clients. By doing that, first, you know it will get done, and second, I know that you referred me; so, when the next time I go to a consultation and ask if the person has a Realtor and the answer is no, guess who I recommend? The Realtors who have called me about estate sales for their clients, even if those potential estate sales did not pan out, because I know those Realtors will keep calling me and that they are very professional.

And one last thing, having an estate sale company under contract can save your deal

A true story, funky 1970s house in a Chicago suburb, all furnished with great mid century stuff. The buyers want to make the home purchase contingent on some of the mid century pieces being included, and frankly, they are being really demanding jerks about it. But, I was already under contract!

Honestly, the buyers were pretty unreasonable and making all kinds of demands (aside from the furniture they wanted). None of these mid century pieces were built in (although, they tried to argue that a really cool teak stereo console was “built-in” because the stereos were wired to a full home sound system, um, no). But instead of having to get all huffy and explain that to the buyers that were not entitled to these pieces, the Realtor and seller could just say, oh, we have this contract with Sophia’s Estate Sales that we can’t breach. The buyers did call me and bought some things from the estate sale and the deal went through!

Get the estate sale company lined up before the buyers start getting all grabby. Partnering with a good estate sale company will make you look great.

About Sophia

Sophia’s Estate Sales has been serving Chicago and the Suburbs since 2015, offering premier estate sale and appraisal services. Call Miss Sophia at 773-729-0638 for a free consultation.


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