Okay, I get clients and friends asking me for estate sale company recommendations in other parts of the country. Florida, Virginia, Texas, downstate Illinois. I am in the Chicago area, so obviously I do not service those areas, but my friends and clients trust me because I have a good estate sale company, so they ask me to recommend one in their area. So, this is what I look for….
Is the company listed on estatesales.org and/or estatesales.net?
These are the two biggest estate sale listing services in the US. If a company is not on either or both, then they are not worth your time.
Has the company had a sale in the past 3 months?
Check the company page. Do they have a website?
If the company does not have a website, take a pass.
If they cannot be bothered to put together a website, then they are lots of other things, like insurance, that they cannot be bothered to do either.
Is the website updated, interesting, or static and full of stock photos?
Is the website just a landing page that was created 10 years ago, or is this an active website? You want a business that keeps up an active website. You want original photography, listings of current and past sales, and a biography of the person who own’s the company.
Next, check the social media accounts.
If a company does have professional accounts on Facebook and Instagram and they are not posting regularly, take a pass. A good company should be posting about every sale.
Check LinkedIn. Does the company owner have an up to date LinkedIn profile, AND is their estate sale company listed on LinkedIn?
No? Mmm…it’s not a deal breaker, but it’s not great. Keep that in the back of your mind.
You potentially have a high value estate. Does this company have access to an appraiser? Or even better, do they have an appraiser on staff?
That’s a great question! If you suspect that you have a high value estate or high value items, ask that question!
Take a deep dive into their past estate sales and ask a few questions….
How many pictures did they take? Did they caption the pictures? I always take 200+ pictures, with captions and descriptions. When I am looking at companies outside my area for clients or friends, and I see that a company’s past sales are mostly only 25-50 pictures, no descriptions, that’s a hard pass, because that’s just lazy. This business now runs off the internet; the internet likes eye candy; if you do not provide the eye candy, no one will find your sale. It’s that simple.
And how good are those photos?
Are they just pictures of a bunch of stuff? Or does the company take photos of individual items? Close-ups of important details, multiple angles, edit the pictures?
Pictures matter! A good picture can mean real money. Take a look below, and decide which one you would rather buy.
Captions, why do those matter?
Estatesales.org and estatesales.net have search features. You want an MCM chrome coffee table, a Princess Diana beanie baby, a Meissen pug dog, a 1970s kinetic sculpture? Whatever the collector’s heart desires, if that person does a search on estatesales.org or estatesales.net, their search functions do not look at photos, but at the captions and descriptions. The company that puts time into this will get you more money. True story, I had an estate with a 1970s kinetic sculpture by James Kirk and I captioned and described the pictures. I got a call from a collector in LA who was looking for what I had. He found my sculpture because I wrote captions and descriptions. I sold that sculpture for $3200 and shipped it from Chicago to LA. That would not have happened if I had not taken the time to write captions and descriptions.
And a word about commissions…
Taking lots of great picture, maintaining a website, writing captions, sending out emails, updating social media takes time, and time is money, but all that work will get you the best results. The best companies will not be the cheapest. It’s just like hiring a contractor; don’t take the lowest estimate.
This is the criteria I use when I need to find an estate sale company outside the Chicago area for a friend or a client.