Clients continually ask me what they need to do before a content/estate sale. Here is a checklist gleaned from my experiences:
Step 1: Don't throw anything away.
Just because an item is old or dirty doesn't mean it's not valuable. Let the content/estate professional determine what is unusable.
Step 2: Remove all items that are not for sale.
Before you contact a content/estate sale professional, have family members remove the items that will not be included in the sale. We take the sale based on the quality and quantity of what remains.
Step 3: Have an in-home evaluation.
After you have removed everything you want to keep, have a content/estate professional come to the home to do an evaluation. See if you are comfortable with them. Ask them about their selling techniques, discounting, what type of payment they accept and how soon you can expect payment after the sale. They will be handling your money and your items, so you must have a high level of trust.
Step 4: Choose the Content/Estate Professional.
This is the most important step. You only have one chance to choose the right company. Make sure you are comfortable with them and their selling methods.
Step 5: Set a date.
Set a date for the sale. Sometimes dates must be changed so be flexible if possible. It will all work out.
Step 6: Let the professionals do their job.
Step back and let the professionals do their work. They are the experts here, so let them do their job. If you have questions, be calm and upfront with concerns. There can be "bumps in the road", but with communication, most problems can be easily solved.
Step 7: Attending the sale.
We have found that it can be very emotional and trying for family members to be present on sale day. Plan to be out of the house and let the professionals do their job.
Step 8: Work together.
A successful sale depends on the client and the professional working together. In the end, you will be grateful that someone else did the hard work and everything went to a good home.
Step 9: After the sale.
Consider what should be done with items remaining after the sale. Donations, and post sale clean-outs should be discussed in advance.