Frequently Asked Questions
What is an estate sale?
An estate sale is held in order to liquidate all or most of the personal property or the entire contents of a home. Everything in the home can be sold--from furniture, jewelry, antiques and artwork to basic home décor, housewares, clothing and tools. Buyers view the entire home including the basement, attic and garage when appropriate. An estate sale differs from a garage sale in that garage sales are typically held when a family is only looking to declutter or resell a small quantity of possessions and buyers only have access to the garage and driveway. Garage sale customers are usually looking for great bargains on everyday items. Estate sale customers are usually on the hunt for unique, antique and vintage treasures as well as functional items for themselves or their home.
Aren't estate sales only for rich people who have died?
Estate sales are not only for the rich. Any size estate contains many items that could be valuable to someone else. Additionally, estate sales are not only for those who have died. Some clients need to downsize because they are moving, going through a divorce or foreclosure, or transitioning to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Estate sales can be held in virtually any size home.
When is the best time to have an estate sale?
Estate sales are typically held over a weekend to attract the greatest number of customers, but other than that estate sales are successful at any time of year. The timing of a sale depends on your schedule and the recommendation or advice of your Realtor or lawyer if they are involved. The only time to avoid is holiday weekends.
How does the process work?
We know that everyone's circumstances are unique and that an estate sale comes at challenging and stressful time in people’s lives. The first step is to contact us by phone at 773/729-0638. Or if you prefer, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to answer any questions you may have or email you additional information. The next step is to schedule a no-obligation appointment in order to meet you in person, tour the home and assess the contents. We sit down and listen to your ideas, concerns and goals. Based on our discussions and your schedule, we make a plan for the best way to market and sell the entire contents of the home in a way that is most effective and profitable. Once the contract is settled, the dates for the sale are scheduled. You decide what items you would like to keep, and we take care of the rest. At the end, we present you with a final accounting, the sales proceeds and an empty and broom-swept home.
Does the home need to be vacant?
No, you can continue to live in your home during the setup and sale. We just ask that you give us full access to the home, stay out of our way and do not interfere with our work. It can be disruptive, but we also realize that it may not be possible to vacate the home. We have done many sales where the client has had to remain in the home, and it works out just fine.
Do I need an estate sale contract?
Yes. After we assess the home and you agree that an estate sale is the best choice, a contract is signed by both parties.
Will you meet with others involved with the estate such as attorneys, accountants, realtors and family members?
We would be happy to meet with anyone involved with the decision-making process. Our initial meeting is at no cost and no obligation. If you decide to sign a contract with us, any additional meetings are also at no cost.
What about all the junk? Should I throw anything away?
Please, we ask that you DO NOT throw anything away until you have met with us! Virtually everything in a home can be sold at your estate sale—even common household goods, cosmetics, half empty toiletries and cleaning products, old papers and on and on. This is especially true given the current state of the economy. People gladly buy things from an estate sale if it costs less than at a retail store. Please do not be embarrassed if the home is cluttered or untidy. This is our job; this is what we do. We will organize and tidy up, artfully arranging the merchandise on tables and display stands or cases that we provide in order to create an attractive sale.
What about the items the family wishes to keep?
Items that the family wishes to keep should be removed from the home prior to the sale, if possible. If this is not possible, we will designate a room to hold these items and it will be kept secured and off limits to customers. We will also clearly mark any larger items “Not For Sale” before set up begins. Additionally, as we are going through boxes, closets, drawers, etc., we may happen upon personal items that might be valuable to the family. We will put those items aside for you to inspect before the sale. If you have any doubt as to whether you should keep an item, we advise that you keep it as it can always be sold at a later date.
How do you price the items and what types of items can be sold?
Sophia’s Room has over 20 years’ experience in the industry, we maintain an extensive research library and also subscribe to the latest online resources in order to obtain fair market values on all the items to be sold, including art, antiques, collectibles, furniture, jewelry and home decor. If needed, we are able to consult with specialists to insure accurate pricing. We can sell anything in the home that is legal to sell, even general household goods.
How long does it take to set up an estate sale?
For effective advertising and set-up, we prefer a three week lead-time. The actual set up usually lasts several days depending on the size of the home. Estate sales take time and are a lot of hard work.
How long does the actual sale last?
Sales generally take place for three days--Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm—with the final day being discounted. For very large sales, we may add an additional day. Moving/downsizing sales are typically held for 2 days.
How do you ensure a large crowd for the sale?
Most importantly, the client should offer heirlooms and housewares that motivate buyers to attend the sale. Removing “choice” items from the home and leaving only “ordinary” items will not generate the interest and crowds necessary to ensure that most of the sale items will sell. Secondly, in order to attract the highest number of potential customers possible, Sophia’s Room uses a large number of advertising methods and various websites and social media to advertise your sale with detailed descriptions and photos, including estatesales.org, estatesales.net, estatesale.com, megaestatesales.com, Craigslist, Krrb.com, Yard Sale Treasure Map app, Yardsale.net, Instagram and Facebook. Also, a special sale announcement, designed just for your sale is emailed to our subscribers. On the days of the sale, we post professional signage at nearby intersections as allowed by local laws.
What fees and/or costs are involved with having an estate sale?
There are no up-front costs. Our initial consultation is free. We receive our commission from sale proceeds after the event. Our commission covers all costs associated with the sale including labor costs and advertising. Sophia’s Room works for you on a commission basis and pays all of the expenses related to the sale, including pre-sale organization, research, pricing, staffing, advertising, signage, packing materials and credit card processing. You are NOT required to pay any deposit or upfront fees. Total clean-out services are an optional service that we can arrange with an outside contractor. Sophia's Room will make the arrangements for the estimate and then it is in your hands. We do not mark up the service or take a commission, but we will be there to supervise. We provide a detailed accounting for the sale within 5 days. Any additional costs will be discussed prior to the sale and will be included in the contract.
What happens to the unsold items?
After the sale, what to do with any unsold items is completely up to you. You may decide to keep the items, or we suggest using one of our preferred charities that will come and remove these items in which case the estate will receive a tax donation letter, or you can tell us which charity you prefer to use and we will contact that charity first. If preferred and appropriate, you may also consign items for sale through Sophia’s Room at Heritage Trail Mall or Central Street Mall or in our Etsy store. If a particularly high-end item remains unsold, Sophia’s Room can arrange to send it to an auction house.
Do you remove hazardous materials?
We do not dispose of rubbish if it contains chemical, toxic, medical, radioactive, or hazardous materials, i.e., paints, solvents, etc. Items like paint and solvents may sell for a small price at the sale, or can be offered for free. If they do not sell, Sophia’s Room will find out where your local hazardous waste site is located. We also do not dispose of pressurized containers of any kind or anything that we suspect to be related to unlawful activity.
Do you have security?
We have someone keeping a watchful eye at all times. Small valuables are kept in glass cases by the check out. We WILL call police for theft or disruptive behavior. For high-end sales, we provide state licensed security guards.
May I attend the sale?
We do not recommend that the client be present during a sale. The estate sale process can be very emotional for clients and seeing buyers rummaging through family treasures can be quite unsettling. Buyers do not have the same emotional attachment to articles in the home and feel more comfortable negotiating prices when the client is not on-site and/or participating in the sale. Sophia’s Room is happy to keep you updated with the daily progress of the sale by telephone and/or e-mail, if desired, or meet with you at the end of each day. We handle the complete process so that you can relax. But if you hang around, we just might put you to work!
How and when is payment made?
After the sale, we provide you with a final accounting and a check for the proceeds minus our commission, Illinois sales tax (if applicable) and any additional services that were requested. We provide these within 5 days of the conclusion of the sale, ensuring that the estate sale was conducted in an ethical manner.
Why should I hire you? Why shouldn’t I just do my own estate sale?
We believe that hiring a professional is MORE than worth it, it ensures that you receive a greater total value for the estate. We have access to marketing and advertising outlets that private sellers do not have. Additionally, holding an estate sale can be a challenging, stressful and daunting task, especially after losing a loved one. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort just to do the research alone, even for an experienced estate sale company. We are here to help accomplish the goal of liquidating your estate professionally and honestly. We handle all the little details such as sorting, organizing, researching, accurate pricing, displaying and highlighting items in a beautiful manner which adds to their value, advertising and security so that you don’t have to. We understand negotiation and know how to deal with difficult customers. We strive to be the best and always maintain a lively, fun and friendly environment.