Marin Estate Sales | Advice & Tips On Emptying Your Home To Sell

180 Altura Way Greenbrae photo
photo for marin estate sales article greenbrae home

I Worked With The Owner Of This Home in Greenbrae To Hire An Estate Liquidator

Marin estate sales are a great way to empty a home to prepare it for sale. When I first moved here years ago, I attended many estate sales in Marin and furnished one of my first homes with great mid-century modern furniture I found at an estate sale. I have also been on the other side of an estate sale and undergone the sometimes painful process of emptying out a family home. Here’s my advice based on my experience.

Here are the steps I would recommend in cleaning out a home to prepare it for sale:

Marin Estate Sales Tip One: Family First

Prior to having an estate liquidator come to the home, items that are to be kept by the family should be removed or tagged. My own experience was in helping to clean out my mother-in-law’s home after she passed away. This is an emotional time for many families and what would normally be trivial items can be filled with sentimental value that remind family members of happier times. One such example in our cleanup was a serving spoon that was only used on holidays to serve one of the family recipes. This serving spoon was worth maybe $1.00 at an estate sale but to several of the family members it held great value. Everyone wanted it.

In situations like this, don’t make a decision on the spot. As you continue to clean the house, there will be other items that also fall into this category. My suggestion is put these “desired items” to the side and decide at a later date who can have them. If there are still hard feelings, the recipient of the coveted item can agree to hand it off to the next family  member in 2 years and thus put it in rotation.

How do you decide who gets the items? A friend made a suggestion that worked great for us. We put all the “items in demand” in the middle of a room of the house, sat in a circle around the items and rolled dice to see who would go first. (In some families this is decided by birth order). Each person then choose one item and then the person on their right went next, and so on until all the items were gone. There were some trades in the end as I recall, and it helped that none of the items had significant financial value. This was fair and eliminated statements like “Mother would have wanted me to have this.”

Marin Estate Sales Tip Two: Liquidate The Valuables

Estate sales are most often not the ideal place to sell high-value items like precious metals, artwork and jewelry. Those can be handled through auction houses such as Sotheby’s, depending on valuations or you may also consider working with local individuals and firms that specialize in buying higher-value items. I can work with you on this to advise you based on your situation.

Marin Estate Sales Tip Three: Hire The Right Marin Estate Liquidator

Hiring the right estate liquidator, like hiring the right real estate agent, is an important decision. I recommend you use someone who has a strong presence in the area, and the infrastructure to advertise their sales. Also the best liquidators have loyal followers that watch their websites for upcoming sales and attend each sale. They should have security on site if appropriate, and should leave the home “broom clean.” I have worked with several and can make recommendations and help set up the initial consultation.

Keep in mind that most estate liquidators offer different levels of service depending on your needs. In some cases you give them the keys to the house and they handle everything from beginning to end. In others they will buy select items from you or give you a price for a room of furniture. The initial consultation is important as you can tell them more about your needs and hear their recommendations on the approach for your situation.

If the value of the household items doesn’t warrant an estate sale or time does not allow, they can also coordinate having items donated and emptying out the house.

Photo of garage filled with junk for Marin estate sales article

An Experienced Estate Liquidator Can Create Order Out of Chaos

Marin Estate Sales Tip Four: Inform The Neighbors

It is not uncommon for hundreds of people to show up at an estate sale in Marin. There was a sale last year in Greenbrae that lasted several days… and each day, hundreds of customers came. Depending on your parking situation and your street, this can be a challenge for your neighbors so it’s a good idea to let them know the hours and days of your sale.

Marin Estate Sales Tip Five: Don’t Go To Your Own Estate Sale

It might be tempting to sneak into your own estate sale or your own open house for that matter, but I encourage you not to do it. You have hired a professional  to do the work for you. Take the time to go see a movie or perhaps take a hike at Phoenix Lake.

Marin Estate Sales Tip Six: Schedule House Cleaners

The best estate liquidators will dispose of the unsold items and handle donations to charity. With furniture now gone and cupboards empty, the home will be ready for a thorough, deep cleaning. Carpets, if they are to remain (usually they are ripped out prior to sale) should be shampooed and windows cleaned. In my own circumstance, it was the reward for two weeks of very hard work — seeing an old family home sparkling and clean again after many years.

Photo of cleaned home for article on estate sales

My Inlaws’ Home Post-Estate Liquidation and Ready For The Next Owners

What If I Can’t Have An Estate Sale?

In some Marin neighborhoods, an estate sale is not practical. For example, in gated communities where access is controlled, CC&R’s or neighborhood restrictions may prevent the holding of garage & estate sales. Also, homes located high in the Marin hills with narrow / winding roads and little parking are not usually good candidates for an estate sale. In that event, I can help you locate an estate liquidator who will come in and bid on the estate as a whole, then truck it away to re-sell the items elsewhere. In some cases, families have decided to donate their estate to charity. Many options exist and I am happy to help you work through them.

I hope you find the above tips about Marin estate sales helpful. I have a lot of experience in this area. As always, I am available via call or text at 415-847-5584 to answer questions or help you with this process. When I am a listing agent for a property, I coordinate with stagers and cleaners to make the sellers’ life as easy as possible. You may also fill out the contact form below and I’ll be in touch right away.

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