FAQ's - Estate Sale Company Frequently Asked Questions
There is a lot of information provided below. But if you read it all you will be highly educated and thank yourself later.
FAQ’s - QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK EVERY ESTATE SALE COMPANY
1. How many estate sales has your company conducted?
EXPERIENCE! When hiring an estate sale company, you want experience! Many companies say they have run thousands of sales. Only a few companies in the country truly have. We are one of them. With offices across the country, we run somewhere between 15 to 20 sales per weekend! Average that over the last decade and experience is something we are not short of. We can honestly say we have run thousands of estate sales. This is why out of approximately 5,000 estate sale companies we have consistently, every year, been awarded a “Top 50” company award out of those 5000 estate sale companies. That puts us in the top 1% in the country. Some companies will tell you that no company has run thousands of sales. They are wrong! We have and we have the experience and the sales history to back it up. Experience is what you want and that is what we have!
2.Do you have International Society of Appraisers (ISA) members on staff?
Why is this so important? It’s safe to say nobody in this world is an expert at everything. That is why we each build our craft and hone a special skill set over our careers. Whether it’s being a mom or an engineer we all get better and learn more as we go. No one person is going to know everything but having an ISA appraiser on staff means that each sale we do, for each client, has the access to an ISA appraiser. ISA appraisers have gone through a rigorous coursework, they follow ethical standard operating procedures and failure to obtain continuing education prevents an appraiser from staying atop the industry. Our appraisers are available to assist on valuations on unique, niche and even foreign scripts that may show up on an item that may be in your home. How do you know the valuation being given is the right one? We have these experts or access to a network of experts that can ensure your items are being given the proper valuation. What does that mean? You obtain the appropriate value when items sell with Prestige Estate Services. Inexperienced mom & pop companies are leaving money on the table and the client suffers the most from this inexperience.
3. Are the employees that work for your estate sale company W-2 employees?
Why is this question so important and relevant? Insurance is a big one.
What happens when that once in a lifetime “Oops!” moment happens and one of our employees gets injured on your property? If they are W-2 employees they are covered under the company’s insurance policy and this protects YOU the homeowner. A simple liability insurance policy does not cover other entities that are not W-2 employees with the estate sale company.
What happens when you hire a company that doesn’t have W-2 employees and something happens? YOU or your estate, can and would most likely be, held liable for any injury that occurs on your property your fault or not, in most cases it doesn’t matter. There have been several instances where homeowners thought they were hiring a good standing company only later to have a lawsuit end up in their lap.
DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE. IT COULD BE THE MOST-COSTLY ONE YOU MAKE.
4. Does your estate sale company have a Worker’s Compensation Policy (WCP) in place?
Most states require this however, this is another cost of doing business that isn’t cheap for estate sale companies to obtain and many, often go without and are operating illegally without it in many states. If something occurs on your property you should be aware you would be held liable for any injury occurrence that happens on your property. In this day and age there are people looking to make a dollar and have no work ethic. An employee who is not covered under a Worker’s Compensation Policy is a prime candidate to make any kind of erroneous claim that they were injured on your property and a company without a Worker’s Compensation Policy in place could be employing this type of individual looking to go after a homeowner for monetary compensation for an injury.
DON’T EXPOSE YOURSELF TO THIS RISK. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A WCP IN PLACE AND SHOW IT TO YOU.
5. Does your company have a liability insurance policy?
We talked about an employee getting hurt and how to protect you from this. How about a shopper? Let’s say an old lady walks in from outside on a sunny day with her sunglasses on and comes into the home and doesn’t see the step down from the entry way before she changes from her sunglasses to her regular vision glasses, trips, falls and breaks her arm. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t some posted notification about the step or uneven floor etc. How does this affect you?
In this instance you can be and most likely would be, held liable for the fall from this nice older lady if the estate sale company you selected, was found negligent for not posting a sign about this hazard, if the estate sale company doesn’t have a liability insurance policy.
We too, do our homework on our competitors and I would be sure you ask them to show you this information. Many say they have it but can’t afford to actually buy this type of policy or it’s only a small amount of coverage. When pressed, they fail to be able to present it to you.
THIS SHOULD BE A BIG CONCERN.
At Prestige Estate Services Inc. we have a $1,000,000.00 liability coverage policy that will protect you and us. Don’t go unprotected and expose you and your estate, to undue risk. Please be sure to ask to see their policy before signing any agreement.
6. Does your estate sale company collect sales tax?
All estate sale companies are required by local and state laws to collect sales tax. You can otherwise then be held responsible for paying these taxes if the estate sale company you selected did not. Ask if they collect sales tax. MORE IMPORTANTLY, also ask what they do with legal tax-exempt purchases? Do they obtain a resale license and keep a copy of that on file for up to one year? Could that even answer that question? That can be a fast way to an audit, which is something you do not want to have occur to you or your estate. Audits are expensive and there is no reason to set off a red flag.
Many companies only charge sales tax on credit card transactions and operate in areas of gray with cash, so they don’t have to claim income tax or sales tax on the cash amount. Make sure they charge sales tax on all transactions unless legally tax-exempt purchase and obtain and hold the purchase amount and copy of resellers license for their records. Most estate sale companies aren’t even aware of this. If you are shopping companies, we encourage you to ask these questions.
7. Does your estate sale company own a store or have a location where you sell things? Will you move any of the remaining items from the sale there?
We do not own a store. This can be a conflict of interest. We once had a competitor in one of our Florida markets, who would price items really high at her client’s sales, so they wouldn’t sell. Then she would charge the client extra to move them to her store to give them some additional time to sell as a “favor”. She would then raise the commission she would take when they sold. She would state they would discount over time. If they didn’t sell, she would then say, “Nobody wants them, I can give you pennies on the dollar for them or you can come pick them up or throw them out, or we can do that for you for free.” Long story short, she never discounted the items, never threw them away. She acquired them by buying them for nothing, or keeping them when they didn’t sell and the client didn’t want to come pick them up. She then would price them to sell and make her money that way in addition to theft of property.
See the video from one of her client’s that was taken advantage of here:
YOU DON’T WANT TO HIRE AN ESTATE SALE COMPANY WITH CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
We do not have anything to gain by buying your items or putting them in a store, as we do not operate a store or a type of this business. We rarely have anything left at the completion of your estate sale. Our goal is to sell everything for the best price in the time we have to sell it! In situations with high end pieces that are better suited for auction or maybe we didn’t find that buyer that wanted the $25,000.00 antique Regina Music Box in three days. We can help but our commission never changes and it’s rare these items are left after a sale, if the marketing for the sale was done appropriately.
8. Do you have references that you conducted a sale for that I could talk to?
Ask your Sale Manager for their specific references at the time of your free onsite consultation.
9. Does your estate sale company have a contract?
Every company should have a contract. This contract should cover what each side is responsible for and sets these expectations forth in a legal binding document.
10. What other questions should I be asking?
Our company receives approximately 3 to 5 calls a month, from someone just like yourself, who hired the company just because they gave them the lowest fee structure and commission. They promised to do a client’s estate sale, then only to later find out with a phone call, that the estate sale company just received a call for a better sale and could no longer do their sale, leaving these clients at the last minute with no options, high and dry.
Have a contract. READ the contract. Ask questions about the contract if something isn’t clear, a senior manager of an estate sale company or a higher up such as Director of Operations or Owner should be able to clearly discuss the agreement without any lack of knowledge, hesitation on even the toughest of questions.
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