Understanding Estate Sale Company Costs and Services
Hiring an estate sale company is not the same process as hiring a plumber. Most people only have one estate sale in their life and finding the right company is a very important task. Do your homework to understand industry norms around commission structure, services provided, and any extra fees involved. The research will be time well spent on your path to having a great estate sale experience.
How much do estate liquidators charge?
Estate sale companies in general do not charge for their services up front, but take a percentage of your sale’s gross profits.
For example, if you hire a company that charges 45% and your sale makes $30,000, the company will keep $13,500 of the profits and pay you the remaining $16,500.
Estate sale companies charge on average between 35% and 60% for their services.
The three factors that determine the estate sale commission include:
- How much work is involved. More work = higher commission.
- How much value is in the house. Higher value = lower commission.
- How comprehensive the service is that the company is offering. More comprehensive service = higher commission.
Estates that require lots of organization, cleaning, and have lower value dated items should expect to have a commission rate of 50% or more.
For more contemporary houses, with little organization, and higher value items like jewelry, significant art, and branded furniture, companies generally charge below 50%.
The Cost of Professionalism and Peace of Mind
The estate sale industry is unlicensed and unregulated. Every year new companies toss a few card tables and a yard sign up and are off to the races. Brand new companies or companies with very limited services will generally offer the lowest commission rates to attract clients. Because you can’t deposit a commission percentage in the bank, it’s important to understand a company’s track record, strengths, and capability to maximize your sale profits.
Recently a Mission Hills couple needing an estate sale hired a local Kansas City estate sale company offering a very low commission of 32%. This was the lowest commission they had found and were excited to hire the company. A few days into the process, they were starting to doubt their decision. The early advertising photos were very slap-dash, the organization of the house was poorly executed, and overall the service wasn’t very professional. The final straw came when they discovered the estate sale company didn’t know how to appraise their significant art collection in line with its value. (They owned several Birger Sandzen lithographs – a very well known local artist whose original paintings can sell over $100,000. The estate sale company had never heard of him.)
They realized the lower commission they were being charged would not result in a win if the total sales dramatically underperformed its potential. They reached out to Brown Button to take on the sale, and they happily agreed to our higher commission with it’s accompanying higher levels of professionalism and service. At the end of the day, we are 100% positive they will end up with a higher check in addition to a smooth, stress free process.
It’s like that old saying, you get what you pay for.
We’ve put together a guide on what to look for when trying to find a professional, high quality estate sale company here.
Additional Estate Sale Company Services and Fees
When evaluating estate sale companies, it’s important to understand what exactly their service will cover and if there are any additional fees. More than 80% of the clients that hire Brown Button Estate Sales are in the process of selling their house. A big part of the goal with the estate sale is to get the house empty, clean, and ready to close with the new buyer.
Three parts of the service you’ll want to clarify with any company you interview:
- Do you remove all the unsold items and manage donations after the sale?
- Do you remove all trash after the sale?
- Will you leave the house in a cleaned condition after the sale?
Are there any additional fees for these services?
Many companies will leave all unsold items and trash in the house for the homeowners to deal with. For larger sales, managing donation and trash post sale can be a multi-day project. Make sure you know if that’s part of the service you’re getting when you hire a company.
Different estate sale companies will charge extra fees for different services. According to a 2021 national survey of estate sale companies, the seven most common additional fees charged are:
- Trash removal
- Professional Cleaning
- Credit Card Fees
- Disposal Fees (chemicals, electronics, etc.)
- Moving Fees
- Consignment Moving
There’s nothing wrong with an estate sale company charging an extra fee for part of the service, you just need to make sure it’s clear and you understand how the fees work.
If you’re need to hire an estate sale company in this season, you can explore our 14 Questions To Ask When Hiring An Estate Sale Company guide.
If you’re interested in having Brown Button Estate Sales conduct a free in home consultation to see if we’re a good fit, you can explore our estate sale services here: