Are You Planning Estate Liquidation?

The process of estate liquidation is a mammoth task that requires the utmost in trust and professionalism.

With over a decade of experience in the field of estate and personal property liquidations, Appraisers-Estate Liquidators & Sales stands out with their ability to identify desirable items and to maximize client returns. Charlotte Bruno and her team of professionals evaluate and research all household contents, and where required, provide appraisals.  

As a respected certified appraiser, Charlotte gauges market trends and has a broad knowledge of antiques and collectibles - an essential expertise required for personal property liquidation.

Our priority is to liquidate household contents as quickly and efficiently as possible. When pricing items, we consider all markets and other important factors relating to the item ensuring optimal outcome for you.

Liquidators & Sales

Estate Sales By Certified Professionals

We sell entire contents of an estate for Realtors, Heirs, Executors, Trustees, Attorney’s and Conservators.
We conform to the guidelines of: USPAP (the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices) and
Appraisers National Association.

Important Questions Before Hiring a Liquidator:

Q:  Do I need a liquidator?  A:  Ask yourself if you really want to tackle the monumental task of sorting through boxes of goods, determining worth of certain items, pricing all items, advertising the sale, enlisting friends and family to help sell your household goods, and following-through on the days of the sale without the benefit of professional marketing, a regional mailing list, or the ability to process credit card transactions.  This will be followed by disposal of remaining items and general clean-up.  Your returns will likely be lower, but if you're up for the task, then you do not need a liquidator.

  Q:  What are the advantages of hiring a liquidator?  A:  Convenience, peace of mind, and the knowledge that you will have a professional managing the sale of your goods for a higher return.  Moreover, an established estate liquidator will have a large regional mailing list of clients hungry for estate buys, in addition to a national network of specialty buyers looking for antique or collectible items.

Q:  How do I determine if a liquidator is reliable and trustworthy?  A:  Always check the liquidator's credentials!  Liquidators will ultimately have unfettered access to your home and household goods; you should be comfortable trusting those handling your important items.  Ask for references and contact previous clients before hiring.  If the liquidator is a member of any professional organization or guild, you should also contact that organization to determine liquidator's certification status and standing.

Finally, longevity should be a good indicator.  The current downturn in the economy has produced a large number of new start-up liquidators who are unfamiliar with the ethics of estate liquidations, or do not have a buyer mailing list needed to produce a successful event.

Rule of thumb: hire a responsible liquidator as if you were hiring a babysitter for your child.

Q:  Do all liquidators provide the same service? A: Absolutely not.  Some liquidators will simply price and sell your personal items while others put in significant effort in researching market value of goods.  Some will box items for quick sale, and some will stage the house as if they are setting up a department store.  Some will clean-up after the sale and others will not.  Each liquidator has their own style and method.  When interviewing liquidators, find out how they will operate and execute the sale, and what the homeowner should expect immediately following the sale.  Cleanliness after the sale is not an unreasonable expectation for the homeowner.

Q:  Will an expert liquidator be able to sell everything?   A:  Not likely.  Even the most gifted and charmed liquidator will have household goods left over.  You need to determine how you wish your liquidator to dispose of the leftover items.   In most cases, a good liquidator will have a relationship with a charity organization that will donate all unsold items (with the homeowner retaining the donation receipt).  You should always have the option of keeping unsold items.  Your liquidator should also provide you with a general list of items that were sold.

Q:  What is the cost for hiring a liquidator?   A:  Legitimate liquidators work on commission, with payment based on a percentage of what is sold.  Since every sale offers their own unique challenges (i.e., hoarding, vintage items, etc.), the percentage is commonly based on the anticipated time and effort that will be exerted on the sale.  You should not go with a liquidator simply on the basis of a lower percentage.  Rather, you should find out what the liquidator will do and how their services will best benefit you.  Remember, a liquidator will only make money if YOU make money.

Q:  I met with a liquidator who will charge a lower commission.  Will this be a good move to make more money?   A: Going with an estate liquidator who charges a lower commission is not the wisest move.  There are more start-up liquidators today than ever before, and they will do everything possible to get your business, including undercutting the competition.  In reality, this may cost you money.  An established liquidator will have contacts with specialty buyers, email lists, and wherewithal to get the job done and bring in more revenue.

Q:  Are their any other associated costs?   A:  On occasion, the consignor may be charged basic advertising fees beyond normal marketing efforts.  Additionally, if hoarding is an issue, the liquidator may be required to rent a dumpster for disposal of trash.  This cost is passed on to the client.  Otherwise, you should not expect to pay any additional monies up front or following the sale.

Q:  I'm considering going with a buyout person.  Is this the best option?   A:  Possibly, but you should meet with several buyout professionals AS WELL as with liquidators to determine your best approach.  For instance, we recently met with a family that was offered $8,000 for a quick buyout.  However, there was a catch; the buyout professional only wanted to pick and choose those items that he wanted.  Although the client would have had cash in hand, he would also have been left with incurring the cost and additional responsibility of disposing the remaining items, along with clean-up.  The client ultimately decided to hire us to liquidate the property.  Admittedly, this was a gamble on the client's part since we could not guarantee sales that would generate the sum the buyout person offered.

But ultimately, at the sale's conclusion, the family was paid IN EXCESS of the $8,000 previously offered by the buyout professional.  And much to the family's satisfaction, we were also able to completely clear out the entire property for eventual sale.  Moreover, there were several high-end unsold items that we decided to consign to our warehouse.  This allowed us to sell at a later date and pay additional monies to the family several months after the actual sale.

The above example is unique, but illustrates the burden of the client to obtain as many professional evaluations before determining a course of action.

Q:  When should I start looking for a liquidator?   A:  DON'T WAIT TO THE LAST MINUTE!  We have recently found that most people going through foreclosures, or those selling their homes, tend to forestall the inevitable until the home is ready for turnover.  This is a mistake.  If you wait until after you receive a notice, or after the escrow date has been set, it may not give us - or any liquidator - enough time to properly market and sell items that may bring the highest dollar.  Often, we will try to sell hard-to-move items before the estate sale date.  It is much easier and much more profitable to sell a grand piano or Gran Torino if we're give a longer lead time of two months rather than two weeks.  And because we're accredited appraisers, we may need to exert additional time and effort to research all collectible or cherished items to maximize their worth to prospective buyers.  Early estate sale consideration is important, and in the case of hoarding situations, it is a must.

Q: I've contracted with a liquidator, now what should I do?   A: Nothing, except sit back and relax, or take a long overdue vacation.  The liquidator now has all the responsibility, challenges and headaches associated with a sale.  However, before contracting with the liquidator, and even before having the liquidator evaluate your estate, you should have remove all property that you wish to retain.   You should not, under any circumstances, personally sell or dispose of items that you think are not relevant or of value to the liquidator.  Some recent examples which we have encountered:

CLIENT SELLING:  Before contacting us, the client decided to hold their own "yard sale."  Upon our evaluation, we discovered that the client had sold military items for hundreds, and possibly thousands of dollars less than market value (these included complete World War II senior officer uniforms and related combat photos).  Normally, we would decline taking on assignments where valuable goods have been previously sold, but fortunately for the client, many remaining items still had considerable value, including a small 1930's boat painting, (which still had their sale tag attached, for an asking price of $30).  We did some in depth research on the painting, located a potential buyer, and subsequently sold the painting to a private collector for $2,700!

THROWN AWAY ITEMS:  When we tackle a sale, we often peruse thru the trash/dumpster to see what has been tossed.  More often than not, we find treasures that should have been saved for the estate or private sale, including a 1945 brass lapel pin that we later discovered was given to personnel working on World War II's A-Bomb project (subsequently sold for $500); 35mm travel slides from the 1950's & 60's (individual Las Vegas slides selling as much as $50 each); vintage 1960's western shirt (sold for $250); an old 35mm camera (although broken, it was a rare Leica that sold for $650); a high school yearbook ($150 because it had Tommy Lee's junior year picture); costume jewelry (one Bakelite bracelet sold for $85), and so on....

Bottom line, DON'T throw anything away!  This is an absolute!  Let the liquidator do that for you.  Throwing away items before having the professional liquidator evaluate is like cleaning the house before the maid arrives -- only more financially impacting.  And if you must sell items on your own, be sure you know what you're selling.  But remember, when you sell items on your own, this leaves nothing for the liquidator to work with, and consequently you may not find a liquidator willing to take on the job.  You may eventually find yourself burdened with the expensive task and arduous responsibility of disposing all that's left.