What You Should Know BEFORE You Hire an Estate Liquidator or Auction Company

We are not a one size fits all..."take it or leave it" option because we have many alternatives to just a traditional sale. We offer things that no one else in WNY can offer you (or will tell you about)!

If you think you are ready to call estate sale companies - checkout our blog post BEFORE YOU MAKE THE CALL

If you haven't needed an estate sale or liquidation before it's easy to be completely overwhelmed. When it finally is time to run an estate sale you need to take time and talk to many people (companies and friends or others). An estate sale, more often than not, is going to be needed at times of loss, downsizing, or moving. All can be stressful and sometimes devastating situations.

Here are some pointers to help you navigate the process.

What are the most important things to look for when hiring

the people coming in to your home?

First, Always use a trusted, professional, insured and licensed company to run your sale. Being in business for any number of years doesn't insure these things.

Your decision could cost you hundreds or probably thousands of dollars so choose wisely and carefully just like you would choose a contractor or realtor.

Like anything in life trust your gut. If you do not feel completely at ease with the person you are talking to you need to keep looking. The "best" company may not be a fit for you personally or for what your needs are.

Has an estate sale company told you this?

"You are not allowed to be at the sale or the set-up"

(Does that seem reasonable to you? We provide absolute transparency and allow you to be involved at EVERY stage of your sale. You absolutely need to object when someone does not allow you access to your own home! If someone was fixing your plumbing and made you sign a contract you wouldn't be in the house until they were done... you would run from that deal. So why is this different?

There is a difference between boundaries while a company gets work done OR signing a contract you are not allowed to be on the premises during any part of the set up or sale.. IT'S YOUR HOUSE! and YOUR THINGS! Don't agree to something that you would not feel comfortable with.)

"Our people" will take what is left over?

(How are they going to have your best interest to sell everything if they or "their people" take what is left?? Why would anyone care if they sell all of your items when they or their friends and family take everything not sold?? We offer options to sell what is left not just take it for free)

"We just advertise in the Bee Paper or we have street signs"

​(There is nothing wrong with those options but if that's all you get can you expect the best results? KNOW HOW THEY ARE ADVERTISING YOUR SALE! We are on Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist and our own following and email lists. We are also premium members of EstateSales.net, EstateSales.org, and EstateSales.com, AuctionZip, Hibid, NYHibid, AuctionGuy and more! DO NOT ACCEPT LESS! (local sales emailed to close to 10,000 weekly) Is your top choice doing all this? AND how much do they charge in hidden fees for advertising among other things.. WE INCLUDE IT because that's our job!) ​

"You do not have enough for an estate sale"

(We can do the traditional full sale or our unique online sale allows options for pretty much everyone. If you have sell-able items we can usually find a solution that fits your unique situation.

"There are added charges for staff, security, advertising" (after the sale)

​(We have no hidden fees! Everything is disclosed up front and any unique needs you may have for your sale are clearly discussed before the sale. Make 100% certain this is true for who you hire! )

..and still to consider.. does your company give you options after the sale to continue to sell what is left? The dirty little secret they don't tell you is THERE'S ALWAYS LOTS LEFT! NO COMPANY sells everything and people are left after the sale with little or no options when the sale is done other than they will give (or take) your stuff away for free. ​OR in most all cases they will charge you after the sale to then clean out what is left.

Are they sending random strangers in to your home to take away what didn't sell? We can offer more options for left over items and we send licensed insured professionals to your home even for the clean up phase...isn't that important? Make sure you ask about the people coming in to "clean-out" most of these people have no license or legit business and certainly not insured or vetted.


So if we aren't your first choice that's ok! Here's what is important to know!

DO NOT make the mistake of only comparing the final percentage of commission.

This is a huge mistake many come to regret. A good company with clean set up, great photos and promotion, accurate research and pricing, great reputation and following, welcoming friendly staff...that will earn you thousands more in sales.

A bad sale is more of a loss then the few extra percentages of commission you may be charged. The averages are from 30% to 50% for most reputable companies.

Also, it's costly to run a good sale so anyone running a sale on a low percentage is likely cutting corners in ads, (off the books) staff, security or worse.. They need to make it up somewhere. Think of this; at 25% even a $10,000 sale only makes them $2,500. Now consider the staff, advertising, supplies and expenses to set-up and run that sale. Does it seem workable that anyone is putting in the added time and attention or that you are really getting your full payout? Or Is it 20 or 25% but they add fees for additional services and expenses after?

Some companies charge a minimum and that is ok but consider what percentage that minimum puts you at -

(ex. $5,000 sale at 30% makes you $3,500 and a $5,000 sale at 50% makes you $2,500 but are there other fees added later?

NOW let's take a $5,000 sale at "25%" with a $2,000 minimum - you get. $2,250 That's OVER 50% hidden in the "deal" but 25% sounds better right?)

Hire the straight-shooters that don't play games with the fees and percentages to get you to sign.

Our fees are commission ONLY. We typically charge from 35-50% which is determined by value of the household and amount of work involved and anything lower is probably not really all they are taking. As the saying goes you get what you pay for.. Getting the cheapest deal is not always a deal...

It is unfathomable that anyone coming in isn't playing "used car salesman" when they are low-balling their percentages. "Sure, I will give you an extra $500 for your trade in" means you are just paying for it elsewhere...

EVERY consignment shop charges 50% and they only take select items that you need to bring to them... think about that for a minute. How much additional trust and work goes in to the estate sale and the company you hire.

NO company should pressure you to sign a contract.

That should be a big red flag! Any good company will tell you all of your options and wait for your decision! It is a big decision and the people you work with are going to make or break the sale.

A surprising secret is that there are far more estates than there are people and companies to run them all. Any company "pushing" to get your business you should be wary of. (Remember... "used car salesman") Don't sign until you see at minimum 2 companies to get some comparison...more is even better! and YES we can refer other reputable people so don't be afraid to ask. If anyone is trashing competitors they are afraid of their competitors. Good companies have a wait list.. don't expect a good result when they "fit you in" next week. They get quick cash but you get a fraction of what you could have earned.

1. Are the details of the set-up and sale hidden? Or are you allowed to be a part of the entire process?

2. Check online ratings reviews and ASK AROUND. Some companies in business for many years without ratings are probably hiding them from view for a reason. Would you go with a company who has a reputation of being over priced, rude workers, dishonest or incompetent? You will hear it all if you ask around or visit the sales yourself. This is an important decision and there is a lot to consider. Any company is going to give you references that they know but asking around yourself is the best bet! Unfortunately the most years in business does not necessarily mean a trustworthy company so ask as many people as you can before you hire anyone.

3. The company you are hiring needs to be a good promoter! They need to be tech savvy these days. Do you know if they are promoting your sale on Facebook, Craigslist, Instagram, and not just their own following and email list? If they are not in the digital age using Social Media why would you trust that people can find them? Most people today are finding the sales online somewhere. Be sure they AT LEAST use EstateSales.net, EstateSales.org, AND EstateSale.com (yes they are all different) for maximum exposure! These sites give you 10's of thousands of views before your sale to get huge advertising and exposure. anyone who is an avid estate sale buyer they will likely follow all 3 pages! Go to the estate sale pages yourself and you will see different companies and listings on each. They send emails to thousands of local subscribed estate sale shoppers throughout different days of the week. THE ADVERTISING IS IMPORTANT. We are auction adn estate sale company so we always advertise more than our competitors. How many people do you know who are reading the Bee or newspaper to find the sales?

4. Our percentage commission of your sale includes ALL regular sale expenses. You won't have hidden charges for any extra costs. Make sure you know EXACTLY what is included and that added fees like employees and advertising are not charged on top of the commission later. That may be ok but consider what the TOTAL cost (think percentages) ends up being.

5. How many sales will they be setting up and running at the same time? Go with a company that is focused on you and doesn't run many of their own competing sales while they run yours. Anyone running 3, 4, even 5 sales a week... how confident does it make you that you are getting the best service! YOU need to be a priority! There's already likely to be at minimum 10-20 other sales competing from other companies on any given weekend. Why should you compete with 3 or more sales from the company YOU ARE PAYING! You would be amazed what can get missed when you do not have experienced staff carefully evaluating your items.

The top people need to be working on YOUR setup and researching pricing of your items That's the people who need to be running your sale. Your competing already with so many other companies ... That leads to problem #6

6. Does the company you want to hire have a backup plan if the sale doesn't go well? If your sale gets a bad weekend due to weather, competing events or some other possible issue. Most will cut and run and are already on to the next. WE SELL IT ALL which takes time and we give that to you.

7. Are they and their employees AND clean-out people after the sale licensed and insured? You are putting an enormous amount of trust in whoever you hire. Be sure to request their certificate of insurance so you are covered for any loss, injury, theft or damages. So the estate sale company has insurance? That doesn't cover subcontractors such as clean-up crew and definitely doesn't cover under the table employees. Another great "cutting corners" tactic that can cost YOU in the end. Are they including a clean-out? You better meet those people before you take the deal to get a quote from them! It is often a separate transaction. You should always meet the people you will be dealing with after the sale is done. The estate sale company is done but you won't be... You would be amazed who some companies will send to your home when they are done with their sale and done with you. The major work of moving things out and the final clean-up can be costly. That is also the most likely time when injuries or damage to your property will happen. A common bait and switch is to send clean out subcontractors who then tell you that it's a huge expense, or you need a dumpster, etc.. Then what? So much for that extra 5% you got right? Just because it's "included" doesn't mean they won't charge you unfortunately. Then you are stuck with no option but to pay them.

8. Read and compare each companies contracts before you EVER sign one. You may save upfront on commission percentage, however, you will find the devil is in the details. Hidden terms and clauses can cost you later. The flat percentage is easy for someone to manipulate if they are making it up elsewhere. That's again why the final percentage is far from the most important factor.


How are we different?

Our services can be customized for people not able to have traditional estate sales. We can help with any size estate. Have you been told you don't have enough to run a sale? Are you in a neighborhood that does not allow a sale (HOA Board or Condo Associations) or maybe you just don't want crowds of strangers through your door. We can help with consignment, online sales, or other options no one else will offer you. Our unique online estate sale gives you full transparency to see everything listed for sale and how much it sold for. THE BEST PART...just about every last item is sold and the clean-out after is minimal. The process is fun and you get to watch as bids keep coming in!

FOR ANY SALE! Traditional or Online

  1. Your house will be left broom swept and ready for sale or closing.

  2. We have professional workers and we are licensed and insured for your peace of mind!

  3. We offer your items for longer exposure than a traditional sale. We can run sales with your items for weeks not just 2-3 days! We also have off-site alternatives in our warehouse.

  4. No need to have a "blow out" or "take any price" last day... we get you more exposure and sell more for longer. We don't quit in 2 days and leave you with unsold items.

  5. You will always work with our most experienced staff from start to finish. Does the estate sale worker who is pricing your items and working your sale have the same level of expertise that you are promised from the business owner signing you up? If that company owner is not personally overseeing your pricing and set-up or sale that's a big mistake! You need to ask and get it in writing.

  6. We have great references and have even worked with many other local estate sale companies for years to clean out after sales. Many of our unique services are offered by referral from other reputable estate sale companies.. we are that good :) and because we can do things they don't offer.

  7. We are not a one size fits all...take it or leave it option because we have many alternatives to just a traditional sale that no one else in WNY can offer you! and they certainly wont tell you about options they don't provide.


We ALWAYS commit to telling you all of your options, without pressure; whether we are

the best fit for you or not. THAT'S A PROMISE!

Brenda Stewart


Stewart Estate Services

(716) 345-8372

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