|Posted on February 21, 2015 at 6:15 PM||comments (2)|
Guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says “Doc, you gotta help me. My wife thinks she’s a piano.” Psychiatrist says “Ok, bring her in.” Guy says “What, are ya nuts? You know how much it costs to move a piano?!?”
Great old joke. I’ve heard it many times, but it hits home more than ever now that I work in the estate sale and home contents business. If you’re in charge of a sales event and have a hard deadline, you probably know why.
What makes the joke funny isn’t just the husband’s cry for help with a crazy situation; it’s how quickly he accepts and adopts that situation as reality.
The same thing happens in most estate sale companies. You get an urgent call from someone who is moving because their house has just sold and they have to sell the house full of contents they can’t take with them. So you walk in with an urgent request and unbelievable deadline and ask your team to do the impossible. You try to figure out a plan that works and jump in although they know it’s not enough time. But recognizing the situation (because they’ve been here before) and they want to prove their commitment; they exhaust all resources and get it done. Before you know it, last-minute sales events become accepted practice and the exception becomes the rule.
Ken Blanchard pointed out that if you ask the dry cleaner to get your shirts done in an hour and they actually deliver, you’re not amazed; you’re not ecstatic; you’re simply satisfied. No matter how crazy your request may have seemed at first, once they agreed to do it, it became the expectation. Not just that once, but every time thereafter.*
Here’s the problem: Your estate sale isn’t a dry cleaner and your results from that sale will not be one-size-fits-all. So, if you ask for same-day service, you don’t get our best work. You get the best we can do in an hour.
Look, we all know the world is moving faster than ever and we don’t have all the time in the world to create better ideas. But if you want better sales results, the solution is pretty simple: Ask your estate sales company or team how much time they absolutely need to deliver their best work – then give it to them and hold them to their promise.
In the end, you may find that allowing the team to help you set expectations also helps improve your own performance because you’re planning ahead, looking farther out and thinking in terms of “what if…” instead of “what now?”
|Posted on February 16, 2015 at 11:55 PM||comments (0)|
The baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are the nation’s largest generation, and they started reaching retirement age in 2011. Since then, an estimated 10,000 boomers have turned 65 each day. This trend is expected to continue until 2030.
As the boomers reach retirement age, many of them will become empty nesters and will have the need to purge their home of unwanted contents and the truckload of things they have inherited. And just as retirees have done before them, boomers are now downsizing their homes to move closer to their children or avoid multi-level homes with long flights of stairs.
More Than We Need
Our sense of what we “need” to live comfortably has expanded far beyond either our earning power or the earth’s ability to accommodate us. Since World War II, the average home has grown from 750 square feet to 2300. In many of these homes, the garage space alone exceeds the size of an entire 1950s starter home. There are more cars than drivers in the U.S., and despite all the extra living space, the storage business is booming. Forty times larger than it was during the 1960s, the $12 billion industry is larger than the American music industry
We Love Our Stuff and We Store It
The United States now has 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space. (the self storage association notes that, with more than seven square feet for every man, woman and child, it’s now “physically possible that every american could stand — all at the same time — under the total canopy of self-storage roofing.
Fifty percent of [self-storage] renters are now simply storing what won’t fit in their homes — even though the size of the average american house had almost doubled in the previous 50 years, to 2,300 square feet.
By 2007, a full 15 percent of customers told the self storage association they were storing items that they “no longer need or want.” it was the third-most-popular use for a unit and was projected to grow to 25 percent of renters the following year.
No wonder Americans have so much stuff to sell off. Over the past decade or so, we've spent nearly $2 trillion annually (much more than we're likely to get back) on things like these.
HOMES: $747 billion
U.S. mortgage activity peaked—no surprise—in 2006, when Americans snapped up nearly a trillion dollars' worth of homes.
Difficulty to Dump: Home prices are down 22 percent from their peak in 2006.
MOTOR VEHICLES: $407 billion
Green, schmeen—America likes 'em big. Even though large-truck sales have dropped by more than a third since 2005, they still outsold every other category of vehicle but one in 2010.
Difficulty to Dump: Used-car values rose during the recession, but experts say the rebound in new-car sales will dampen that trend.
APPAREL: $251 billion
Blame our full closets? In 2009, for the first time in U.S. history, spending on clothing and footwear fell below 3 percent of Americans' disposable income.
Difficulty to Dump: Even Goodwill's got a glut: Donations jumped 12 percent last year, more than triple the rise in 2009.
ELECTRONICS: $158 billion
The typical U.S. household spends $1,350 annually on electronics—more than the average person in Nepal makes in a year.
Difficulty to Dump: Some half a billion old gadgets now languish in our homes, more than twice as many as did so in 2007.
FURNITURE: $87 billion
From 1999 to 2007, U.S. imports of household furniture more than doubled—with more than half coming from China.
Difficulty to Dump: Traditional stuff—think middle-class mahogany—is down more than 50 percent from pre-crash prices.
HOUSEHOLD GOODS: $68 billion
These purchases encompass everything from small kitchen appliances and dinnerware to cleaning materials and, yes, bathroom accessories.
Difficulty to Dump: Forget resale. The EPA reports a 23 percent jump since 2000 in household goods being simply junked.
JEWELRY: $55 billion
Diamonds are still a girl's best friend, making up at least 30 percent of all jewelry purchases in any given year.
Difficulty to Dump: The average sale price of used wristwatches on eBay dropped 28 percent from 2008 to 2010.
FINE ART: $2.4 billion
Call it a renaissance: Art sales at major auction houses exploded in the early '90s, growing tenfold to peak at $4.8 billion in 2007.
Difficulty to Dump: Based on lot prices, the average amount fetched at auction for fine art fell 43 percent from 2008 to 2010.
|Posted on February 16, 2015 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
The American Society of Estate Liquidators estimated there were about 14,000 estate liquidation businesses across the United States as of mid-2013, according to a related story on The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.com. Some of these ambitious individuals are antiques dealers who know enough through buying and selling to get by, others are trained as appraisers, and some are barely qualified but working it anyway.
That means that all estate sale services are not created equally. Some will be more professionally run than others. Some will know more about identifying rare antiques than others. Some will know more about valuing antiques and pricing them fairly. None have an obligation to do any type of reporting to an agency, nor do they have anyone following up on their practices. It’s up to you to pick a winner.
What to Look for in an Estate Sale Service
The first inclination might be to take the lowest bidder if estate liquidation companies are competing for your business, which can run from 20-40% of the total take on average. Most add on a fee for clearing the house completely after a sale and removing unsold items, too.
But like choosing a contractor to do work on your home, you don’t necessarily want the team willing to work the cheapest to take on the task of liquidating your cherished belongings or those of a loved one. Doing so may mean hiring someone inexperienced who is just getting their feet wet. Or, even worse, you might end up with someone dishonest who will make up the profit in less savory ways such as stealing from you.
Carefully read the fine print of the contract you’ll sign, and don’t do business without a contract. That’s a big red flag that a company may not be on the up and up.
Asking about how they are insured is important as well, since a lawsuit for an injury at your sale can impact both you and the estate liquidation company. Also find out what type of inventory they’ll be doing before the sale to protect yourself, and for estate tax purposes if you’ll be subject to that.
There are other things to consider as well. An inexperienced proprietor, especially if they’ve never even worked with an estate sale company in the past, may mark valuable pieces too low and that takes money out of your pocket. Running a professional sale with adequate staffing is also important, so be sure to ask how many people will be on the premises the day of the sale.
They should also take the care required to make sure your property doesn’t get damaged either before or during the sale. Plus, If you’re looking at a high end estate, or one of a collector who has remarked on the large sums they paid for some of their most prized possessions, be sure to select an estate sale company with the appropriate knowledge base – one operated by a trained appraiser, for instance. You’ll want someone who can pluck out extremely valuable pieces and arrange to have them sold through a high end auction house, if that’s a more appropriate venue when compared to a local estate sale.
So, what's next?
Ask for references from friends and family, or your real estate agent who’ve used a service they’re pleased with can often be a great place to start. Post a note on a bulletin board where you know lots of people, or ask in your neighborhood community group on Facebook as a point of departure. Even your bridge group or poker buddies might have suggestions.
If you frequent local collectibles malls or antique shows held in your area, and trust any of the dealers there to give you a straight opinion, ask them if they know anyone who does estate sales. Chances are they’ll at least have some suggestions you can investigate further. Or, you can check the local papers just about any weekend to visit some sales first hand and see which ones you think have the best operation. The proprietors may be too busy to give you a lot of information while conducting a sale, but you can always pick up cards for those that impress you and follow up later.
If you’ve run through these suggestions and are still coming up short on ideas, you can always consider tapping the online search engine of your choice. But if you go that route, seek more information on the services by visiting a site like Yelp.com where detailed reviews are encouraged. Think about double checking with the Better Business Bureau to get the skinny on potential problems as well. Paid sites like Angie’s List can also offer suggestions, too. Read both the good and bad reviews for any services you’re considering to get the full picture of what to expect.