The Estate Sales Business

Estate Sales as a Business, Some Things You’ll Need to Know…


…because a reader has asked, here is her letter, paraphrased, and excerpted.

Reader: “Do you recommend being a certified Antiques Appraiser or not? “

Fine Estate: This is a very complex question. For starters, most Estate Sales Professionals are not certified appraisers, and most certified appraisers are not estate sales professionals.

While there are overlaps to what each of these two professions are accomplishing on behalf of their clients, they are still very different industries.

Certified appraisers for the most part, value household contents, and Estate Sales Professionals sell household contents.

My Recommendation: Find a competent certified appraiser in your area and have them preview your pricing. If you find anything at all in a house that you do not know the value of, always call in an outside expert. I did this for the first 3 years of my Estate Sales Business, and even still today, I have outside antiques and collectibles experts or appraisers check my pricing.


There ain’t no one person who knows everything

Reader: …”And are there other things that are really needed to be a qualified Estate Sales Professional?”

Fine Estate: I think that the number one talent of the best Estate Sales Professionals in the country is “To Know When They Don’t Know, and to have coupled this with the action of, “They Know How To Find Out”.

I fully expect to find a treasure in every house, not that I do find a treasure in every house, but I do expect it – I keep an Open Mind about what I am looking at, and because I expect to find Estate Sales treasures, I do.

My Recommendation: Know that you can’t know everything, indeed no one appraiser in the country does. Develop Solid Industry Contacts, pay them if you have to, subscribe to one or more of the big antique and collectible research data bases, such as Artfact, Askart, Terapeak, or Prices 4 Antiques.Com. I assure you, these are the data bases that almost all Certified Appraisers are using to ascribe value to antiques and collectibles. By the way, I subscribe to all of them.


What are the requirements to be an Estate Sales Professional?

Reader: “Are Estate Sales Professionals required to be licensed, bonded or insured?”

Fine Estate: Not sure how to answer this question, because these requirements would vary state by state. In California, there are no licensing, or bonding requirements in order to be in the Estate Sales business. Having said that, it makes good sense to follow the good practices of other kinds of business.

My Recommendation: If your state does not license Estate Liquidators, at least get a local municipal business license. All business should be insured, and many that handle cash, should consider getting bonded.


When will I have enough information to go into the Estate Sales Business?

Reader: I love helping with estate sales, but I do not feel I have the right information/experience to start my own Estate Sales business.

Fine Estate: This statement is, I think, an indication of your honesty, sincerity and integrity. These are very important components to have, with these, all things are possible. The Estate Sales Business is a trust industry. We are in peoples homes everyday, we see how they live, what they liked – whether life turned out OK for them…Honesty is everything, and with it you will prove yourself capable to act according to the best needs of your clients.

My Recommendation: Start small, by conducting some modest Estate Sales. Build alliances with Antiques Dealers, and Appraisers. Sign up for at least one of the antiques and collectibles research resources I listed.

Martin Codina

Fine Estate

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3 thoughts on “The Estate Sales Business

  1. In non-license states, there is no legal fiduciary relationship between the property owner and the selling agent. Consequently, your advice to acquire local permits, insurance and bonding would seem to be a minimum requirement to start an estate sales business. It’s all about trust.

  2. Wayne – Thanks for adding your input, I completely aggree…Trust Is Always The Magnet, that draws a client to our service. Without it we would have no business…Take Care…

  3. “There ain’t no one person who knows everything”… Isn’t that the truth!
    You’re reply to Wayne is also very true ~ Trust is pinnacle and we too hear that all the time.
    Not mandatory in Chicago, Illinois, being bonded & insured is an assurance and just good business for any professional estate sale company.
    Another good post Martin ~ Thanks.

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