When choosing the best estate sale company to provide estate sale services, it is important to know what fees and costs will be charged by the company. This article aims to provide a complete list of all the possible fees that estate sale companies charge.
Estate Sale Fees:
What To Expect
There are many estate sale company pricing structures. This is because each company charges different fees for their services.
Some of the most common pricing structures include:
Minimum Sales Figure
It is common to see a minimum sales figure. This simply means that the estate sale company is guaranteed a minimum amount for their work in putting the sale together. The reason for this is because a lot of time and work goes into an estate sale, and the estate sale company needs to make sure their costs will be covered.
The Most Common Estate Sale Fee Arrangement: The Sales Percentage
Most estate sale companies work on a commission fee basis. This is usually a percentage of the sale. This will generally range somewhere between 20-50%, with the most common fee being in the middle. In some cases, where there are many smaller items, or a lot of extra work required, the percentage can be higher than this. It is very important that you realize that “fee shopping” can actually work against you. The best service providers will not work at the bottom of that range. While you may be able to hire a less capable provider for a lower figure, they are also more likely to earn you less money for your property. That means you would really be short-changing yourself.
Very few estate sale companies will work for a flat fee. In many cases, estate sale companies do not know the complete extent of work required until they have begun the process. That makes a flat fee arrangement risky for them. You are not likely to find a reliable firm willing to work on a flat bee basis.
Sliding Scale Commission
A small number of companies will work on a sliding scale basis, where the commission varies as the total sales price increases. For example, every sale has setup and upfront costs. A smaller estate will make less revenue to offset this than a larger estate would. Thus, for small estates, the fee is usually adjusted upward to compensate.
Estate Size Can Effect Commission Rate
The larger the estate, the more work will be required. Larger estates often require far more preparation, organization, and marketing effort. The additional behind-the-scenes work in a larger estate will generally impact the commission rate.
Complex Estates: Fee Considerations
There are other factors which can impact commission rates or require additional fees. Here are just a few:
- Estate contents are spread out in a large, sprawling house or multiple buildings.
- Items are packed away and will require discovery and unpacking.
- There is a hoarding scenario.
- There are issues accessing contents: rooms are blocked; contents are stored in large quantities; or there is limited space to operate in.
All these things can complicate the job of an estate sale company. They represent additional time and expense. For this reason, the commission fee may be higher to compensate, and/or in some cases, there may be extra fees. In most cases, this can all be satisfactorily worked out up front.
Higher Value Items
Estates can sometimes have higher value items. These might include vehicles, equipment, or in some cases, collectibles or other unique items. In some cases, the commission rate for particular items can be adjusted. In other cases, the commission on higher value items is already factored in. In other words, the high value items may make it worth it to the estate sale company to handle the other items, which would normally not be profitable for them. You can discuss this up front.
Other Estate Services
Estate sale services and liquidators sometimes offer additional, complimentary services which might be useful to you. It is worth asking if they offer any additional services and what they recommend.
It takes time and money to promote an estate sale. You’ll want to ask the estate liquidator you choose whether they cover this cost or if it is deducted from the sales proceeds. Either way is acceptable, as long as you know in advance.
Most estate sale companies will leave a property “broom clean.” If you need special services, such as trash dumpster rental or extra cleaning, this will always cost extra.
In some cases, property that is remote or has challenging access will require additional time and personnel to manage. For example, if the property is on a long, single lane driveway that winds through trees with limited visibility, extra people will be needed to manage vehicles coming and going. This would incur additional costs.
“Rush” Sale Fees
When an estate sale company has to “rush” a sale to meet a very tight deadline, there will almost always be higher costs. This is because accelerated sales usually have more expenses.
For estates that are in probate, a court may require special reporting, or court appearances. An estate sale company will charge a fee to cover the added costs of meeting these requirements.
Always ask the estate sale company if there are any other fees. If so, these should be discussed early on.
Most Common Estate Sale Fee Scenario
If your estate contents are easily accessible, and there are no unusual circumstances, a straight percentage-based sale with no other fees is entirely possible. This assumes that you will not need or want any special cleaning or disposal services.