Estate sales bring all sorts of challenges. One of the more perplexing is what to do with the vintage and antique items that have been loved all along or just lived in the attic for decades. Discovering them brings up feelings of the past that may have been buried by time. They also create new challenges to the task of downsizing making you wish you had started earlier. Recently I helped a family clear out a house that had been lived in by one family for 40 years.
As we started packing wanted items there, neatly tucked in every corner, was a relic of the past: cut glass, china, silver, books, art, kitchen ware, mid-century furniture, old lamps, miscellaneous vintage accessories like binoculars, pens and more.
If you start the process only after the house is sold you may find your ability to make the necessary decisions in that short time period of 30 days becomes quite difficult. That’s why I encourage people to start as soon as possible even if it is only one room at a time. If you have a friend help or hire a professional organizer to keep you focused and motivated you will accomplish what you need day by day.
But alas if your lives are just too busy to address the house until it is sold and the clock is ticking there are a number of things you should do to begin the art of disseminating the things you choose not to keep. Firstly decide if you want to have an estate sale with people coming into the house to look at furniture and other things for sale.
The other option is to call auction companies nearby and ask about their policies and procedures. If you don’t need to comb the home for the more personal things they will come and load all the things up-including Goodwill items and auction off the lot giving you a percent of the sale.
If you elect for an estate sale find someone to help you manage it. If there are valuable small items you will want people monitoring the space when people come in. If possible keep it to the first floor to avoid accidents. Get change, paper and boxes for wrapping delicate items and trash bags as things to toss reveal themselves. Take note there are many things you will learn from visitors to your yard sale! It’s advantageous to have someone who can chat with them all as they enter. You will learn about the things at your sale, the house, neighborhood and many other things!
If you don’t really enjoy having a yard sale/estate sale, I advise taking all items that should be sold at Goodwill for $1-3 dollars directly to donate and not try to sell them. You will find you would need to handle the objects so much as the sale goes on you will spend more time than is worth for the object. If you take a large box calculate about how many things of what kind are in the box and what they would sell for at Goodwill to know what you should get for a tax write-off if you itemize.
You can deduct these donations from the tax on the sale of the house that will be equal to what you could sell it for minus all the effort of arranging and pulling in items from weather, etc. I usually value Goodwill boxes at about $40 each considering each object could be sold for approximately $2. Goodwill no longer gives paper receipts. You will need to point the camera of your smart phone at the QR code beside their donation location and fill out the form to get the receipt sent to your email.
Once all the Goodwill items are donated You will need to get tables to set things out if you choose to sell the small items. You will need to set a date and publicize it with the local paper and or FaceBook Marketplace or NextDoor app.
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Interested to know more about hiring a professional organizer? Check out this New York Times article!