Spring is around the corner, which means it’s time for spring cleaning. Whether you are downsizing or clearing out a home, pay attention to what the experts say, as you just might be sitting on valuable treasures and collectibles.
When preparing for an estate sale, Robert Ahlers, CEO and founder of Ahlers and Ogletree Auctions and Peachtree Battle Estate Sales with his wife Christy, suggests: “If you’re considering a sale, begin by setting up a consultation early in the game. Many people throw away or donate things that would sell really well. An efficient process is designed to make things easy, and having an established company meet you during the planning process will guide you and save a lot of effort, understanding how the process works will prevent you from making mistakes.”
For those who don’t have enough for an onsite sale, Ahlers offers an offsite option. “Typically, for an on-site sale, there needs to be a majority of the household up for sale and the gross value needs to be a minimum of $15,000 to $25,000,” he says. “It is often hard for a family member or potential client to size this up, so it is best to have a free consultation to make a determination.”
The timing of the sale is also important. “We generally run our sales for three days but customize this according to the volume and value of items for sale or HOA restrictions,” says Ahlers. “This allows adequate time to work the discounts in a manner that maximizes the realized prices. Pricing and discounting will have a large impact on the overall result and that formula is highly effective.”
Estate sale client Fred Katz certainly appreciated Ahlers’s assistance in selling his home. “When I sold my home in Atlanta, I needed help pricing and selling a houseful of items, from furniture, art, silverware, dishes to loads of odds and ends,” he said. “It seemed like an overwhelming task, but Peachtree Battle Estate Sales took over the entire job, sold almost everything in the house and it was a flawless experience from the moment we met. I was shocked how many things actually sold, and the prices were incredible.”
Another client, Jill Segal, said, “Peachtree Battle Estate Sales did an exceptional job, and their staff was so courteous. I can’t say enough good things about them. They are experts at what they do and did a tremendous job for us as we downsized. This full-service company made all the difference and is outstanding.”
Ahlers displays rare and antique items at the company’s 15,000-sq.-foot gallery at 1218 Old Chattahoochee Avenue, on Atlanta’s Upper Westside. Below, Ahlers shares professional tips for a successful estate sale:
Get the most value out of the items you are selling.
Knowing what things are worth is the most important thing. “Our staff researchers have extensive product knowledge,” Ahlers said. “Pricing things properly from the start is absolutely vital to a successful sale. Since we own an auction house that is separate from our estate sale company, we have the unique ability to sell items through our sister company, Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery. The auctions are global and open up the world to our customers. Offering some of the rarer and more unique items at auction allows the market to determine the value and usually results in a higher price due to the broader market. In our estate sales, we spend a lot of time doing extensive setups and displays to show items at their best. We also do extensive photography to give a good representation of the objects online. Finally, we maximize by having a knowledgeable sales staff interacting with customers and actively selling.”
When hiring a company, it’s important to inquire about services that will ease the process.
“An estate sale benefits from a full-service estate sale company that is designed to make things much easier for clients,” said Ahlers. “We re-stage items in the house, pull everything out of cabinets, drawers, etc. and set up displays. Next, we do photography and advertising. This includes social media ads, listings on estate sale websites, email campaigns, signs around the neighborhood, etc. Pricing and research come next. We price every item at $1 or more (this creates value for items, instead of group pricing). After the conclusion of the sale, we provide a full cleanout, customized to the client’s needs. We donate items that need to be donated and make an itemized list, take any items back to our gallery that we think we may be able to sell for you in a future sale, sweep, vacuum, wipe down counters and leave you with an empty house.”
What sells quickly?
According to Ahlers, there is a customer or buyer for almost everything. Obviously, the more unique and higher-value items tend to sell quickest. His gallery has had success with fine art, jewelry, antiques, designer clothing and accessories, fine furniture, modernism and even household items and good used furniture.
Which items do not sell?
There are not many things that don’t sell. Most of our estate sales have an 85 to 90 percent sell-through rate. We have all types of buyers, such as interior designers, set designers, people buying for second homes and Airbnb rentals, retail and collector buyers, and so on. Some of the things that are a little more challenging to sell are mostly big furniture items like armoires, wall units, or really dated items that aren’t old enough to be antiques or new enough to be current.
What safety precautions should you take?
Ahlers encourages clients to remove all personal items, documents, family photographs and anything they don’t want to be included prior to the sale.
How do you select a company?
The vast majority of sales come through referrals from past clients, realtors, move managers and attorneys. If you are looking for a company, ask around. You can also look on estate sale websites such as estatesales.net. Make sure to ask a lot of questions and get good references from recent clients and read the reviews. Pay particular attention to the negative reviews, as they will really tell the true story.