The estate sale industry is unregulated, which means there are a lot of shady operations out there. Don’t worry though, there’s a few telltale signs that will give them away every time. Here’s are 10 red flags to look out for while choosing an estate sale company.
Red Flag 1: Upfront Costs
You should never pay anything up front a company to host your estate sale. Their job is to turn a home into a shopping environment where everything can be sold, and they should complete that job before charging you. Think of it this way, would a grocery store bill the farm to sell their corn? If a company asks for money upfront, it’s a sign they don't have the capital to handle unexpected costs or needs of a sale, like staffing.
Red Flag 2: Hidden Fees
Keep on the lookout for hidden costs. Typical ones include advertising fees or credit card processing cost, but some companies may even want YOU to pay THEIR employees. These can really add up and cut into your sale profit. A reputable company like Aether will take all expenses as THEIR responsibility.
Red Flag 3: Past Sales
Examine their past sales. If they only have a couple, they’re probably inexperienced. If they haven’t hosted an estate sale in a while, they may be out of practice. If they don’t have a record of their past sales, they should be avoided entirely.
Red Flag 4: Popup Operations
While estate sale companies don’t need a brick and mortar, there are plenty of fly—by—night operations that have no city to their name. Avoid these companies by checking with your State’s Secretary office for their incorporation.
Red Flag 5: Hard to Reach
You’re giving these people access to your house and it’s possessions, so it’s important that you feel secure. If you have concerns and find it difficult to get in touch with the company in the beginning of the process, chances are you’ll have the same experience throughout.
Red Flag 6: Overestimating
Some companies will throw out big values for items to get you to sign the contract, but not Aether. Our Agents and Commanders valuate based off Fair Market Value (FMV) estimates. The FMV includes the age and wear of the item.
Red Flag 7: No Website
If a company doesn’t have a website, bells should starting ringing in your head. IT makes it difficult to learn about the company, and it shows a lack of interest in their own own operations. If they arent invested in themselves, they will likely treat your sale and property with the same respect.
Red Flag 8: Handwritten Tags
Handwritten tags are a relic of the past. Modern estate sales demand accountability, and that can only be achieved with a digital inventory and transaction listing. Aether barcodes every item in the sale, keeping the process transparent.
Red Flag 9: Branding
A company’s image is as important as their processes, because it’s reflexive of their methods. Avoid companies with goofy designs, poor photos, and a lack of a social media presence. You could even ask them questions like, “why are those your company’s color?” Their answer should have solid reasoning and reveal the depths of their decision—making.
Red Flag 10: No Bond or Insurance
Without a bond or insurance, you assume the liability of the estate sale. That includes any theft, broken items, or injured workers or shoppers. No companie without a bond or insurance should even be considered. Ask to see a copy of both when you interview companies.