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What to Expect When Hosting an Estate Sale

What to Expect When Hosting an Estate Sale

A collection of white, antique ceramics complemented with vintage wood furniture.
Written by Carson Dike

Throughout the course of your life, you’ve probably frequented or hosted a garage sale yourself. Fundraising, moving, or simply decluttering one’s home, people are apt to host these local trades, prompting them to pop up from weekend to weekend.

But what happens when something more serious occurs? How do you go about selling items if a more pressing and emotional issue requires your attention?

That’s when we turn to estate sales. These events occur when families, or “estates”, attempt to liquidate items when a person has passed away, is getting divorced or is moving homes.

The exterior of a house with a red sign specifically for estate sales.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.

While the motivations for estate sales aren’t necessarily lighthearted, they still provide an opportunity for antique pieces to be repurposed and appreciated by new buyers.

You’ve most likely been a shopper at an estate sale, but do you know where to begin if you need to host one yourself?

A collection of multicolored antiques in a vintage wood open-shelving compartment at an estate sale.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels

What goes into an estate sale? How does it function? Who sets the prices? There are a milieu of questions surrounding this form of exchange, and the answers aren’t always overt. So, to better understand estate sales and how to host one, we sat down with Natasha Pace, an estate liquidator based out of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Natasha Pace, an estate liquidator, in front of a blurred background of folliage
Photo courtesy of Silver Lining Estate Sales

Owner of her own liquidation business, Silver Lining Estate Sales, Natasha is the perfect voice to consult when considering this type of service. Based on personal experience, she understands what her clientele may be going through, and has focused on structuring her liquidation services in a proactive and empathetic manner. 

Here are a few of Natasha’s insights into the world of estate sales, and how these events operate:

For starters, what is the general timeline of an estate sale?

“As a liquidation service, the first thing we do is set up a time to walk through the client’s property.  It can be very informal, but what we are looking for are the types of items, their condition and how many there are. We also consider the property’s layout and how we can effectively use the space provided.”

“All of these things help us determine how long it will take to set up and hold the actual sale. It also helps us to decide how we would like to advertise the sale.”

“Once we get that all settled and devise a plan, then it’s time to set up the sale and let the customers shop and have fun! We like to make the shopping experience special, too.”

What is the responsibility of the homeowner during this process?

“We like to tell our clients that if they are going the route of hiring an Estate Sale Professional then they should just worry about themselves.  Prior to agreeing to hiring us, we ask that they remove the personal items they would like to keep, and to leave the rest to us.”

“It’s usually too emotional for a client to see us working and organizing and selling, so we require that they are not on the premises while we are working and conducting business.”

An estate sale complete with a wide range of antiques
Photo courtesy of Peter Heeling via Skitterphoto

Who sets the prices for the items being sold?

“We do! Sometimes we visit a potential client and they tell us an item or collection is worth “X” amount of dollars. Other times, I look up the item online with our clients and find the last three sale prices and dates to determine the price.”

“Of course, every now and then we work closely with professional licensed appraisers, but our best resource is our own experience. After years in the business, we know what people are looking for at every sale. Does it change and evolve? Yes! But we get to see it on a weekly level and that is just priceless to us.”

A woman organizing schedules for estate sales at a desk with a computer and planner.
Photo courtesy of

What is the typical amount of time it takes to get an estate sale up and running?

“From the first day of walking in the door, setting up and beginning to sell, it takes us around six to eight days. Typically, we don’t have basements or attics in Las Vegas, but those garages are sometimes a sale in themselves!”

What percentage goes to the liquidation company during the estate sale?

“We typically take a commission from the total sales and in addition we charge a fee to cover the set-up, advertising and the “clear out” of the property.  Things are always left over after a sale, so we work with our clients to see what options they like and then take it from there.”

A pair of roller skates and vintage clocks with price signs on them.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Grill via Getty Images

What is the best tip you can give to someone who might want to host an estate sale?

“After doing your research, checking online reviews, meeting with the estate sale professional and establishing a comfortable rapport with them, you should focus on doing one thing: letting them do their job.”

“I understand curiosity is natural, and I never mind if a client checks in with us, I’ve been in their shoes too. But the process is in motion, and you need to trust the individual company to do what they do best.”

What is the most intriguing part of your job?

“Oh! This is my favorite question!”

“I love seeing how people lived and the worlds they created in their home. The things they enjoyed, the things they valued, what they saved. People are so interesting!” 

“I then find the balance between respecting that person’s worldly possessions (the things that mattered most to them), getting top dollar for them and then meeting the new person who wants to give them a good home and give it a new life. I always ask our customers to show us pictures of how they displayed something in their home or how they re-worked it.”

A collection of antique radios placed in an open-shelving scheme.
Photo courtesy of Peter Heeling via Skitterphoto

Headed out to an estate sale? Read our tips to proper estate sale etiquette here!

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