7 Tips to Help You Navigate an Estate Sale With Ease

Tara Mastroeni
Published: July 14, 2022 | Updated: January 30, 2024

UpHolding an estate sale is no easy task. You often have to sort through a loved one’s belongings, set prices, advertise the sale, and manage the event, all while trying to keep up with your own roles and responsibilities. Still, it can be done with a bit of planning and forethought.  If you need estate help navigating estate sales, keep reading. We’ve got the tips you need to navigate estate sales like a pro.

estate sale help

7 tips for navigating estate sales 

Consider hiring a professional

First and foremost, if you’re dealing with a large estate, particularly one that has non-traditional assets like real estate mortgage notes, you might consider hiring a professional estate sale service. A professional estate sale company can help you coordinate all the necessary logistics to ensure a successful sale and take a lot of the work of organizing the sale off of your plate.

Also known as “estate liquidators,” these professionals will help you sort, clean, photograph, and market the items in the estate for resale. Many will also help you navigate the estate sale on the big day. In return for the assistance, liquidation services often take a percentage of any profits made from the sale.

tips for having an estate sale

Create an inventory

On the other hand, if you decide to navigate estate sales without hiring an estate liquidator, the first step is to make an inventory. For this, you’ll need to make a few lists: one for items that will be included in the sale and another for items that you won’t be selling. 

Your “selling” list should include information about the item’s condition as well as any fixes or improvements that need to be done to it before the sale, including cleaning the items and removing personal information from any electronics. Your “not selling” list should specify where the item is going and any steps that need to be taken before it can reach its new destination. 

Price your items 

Next, it’s time to price the items that made your “selling” list. Take some time to research the going rates for the items on your list. Then, do your best to price your items accordingly. Remember to take their overall condition into consideration. Plus, don’t forget that estate sale shoppers are often looking for a deal, similar to those who frequent garage or yard sales. 

Take quality photos 

Photos are often the key to a successful estate sale. After all, they are often the thing that will help get interested buyers through the door. With that in mind, you’re going to want to make sure to highlight any valuable items or collectibles that you have in your inventory.

Do your best to take photos that are clear and well lit. If your phone doesn’t suffice, there are many professional services that you can hire to help you with this task.

Advertise everywhere

Once you have your items organized and photographed, the next step is to advertise it everywhere. You can put an ad in your local newspaper, place an ad on Craigslist under the ”garage sale” category, and post about it on social media. In addition, you can also place signs around the neighborhood and use word of mouth to inform family and friends. 

selling estate help

Enlist help for the big day

Holding an estate sale is no easy task. On the big day, you’re going to be managing the flow of traffic, answering questions, and making sales. To that end, you may need a pair of estate sale helping hands to get through the day. 

A professional is likely your best, however, family members can also be of assistance here. Most people have had experience with a yard sale or two and this is a similar skill set. 

Make a plan for unconventional and unsold items 

It’s unlikely that all of your items will sell during your estate sale, so it’s a good idea to make a plan for what you’ll do with any unsold inventory. For example, items that aren’t worth much can be donated to charity. 

On the other hand, sometimes you may need to connect with other professionals to settle the estate’s assets. If the deceased was involved in any seller financing arrangements, for instance, you may need to connect with an experienced mortgage buyer to help you navigate through the paperwork.


What do most estate sale companies charge?

Most estate sale companies typically charge a commission-based fee, which is a percentage of the total sales made during the estate sale. This percentage can vary widely, but it generally ranges from 25% to 50% of the total revenue. The exact rate often depends on factors such as the size and value of the estate, the amount of work involved in organizing and running the sale, and the geographic location. 

Some companies may also charge additional fees for services like cleaning, organizing, and appraising items, especially for larger or more complex estates. The high percentage reflects the comprehensive service provided by these companies, which often includes sorting and pricing items, advertising the sale, and managing the event itself. 

What is the best month to have an estate sale?

The months in spring and early fall are the best months to have an estate sale. In these months, the weather is typically mild, making it more comfortable for people to be out and about, which can lead to higher foot traffic. 

Where is the best place to advertise an estate sale?

Online platforms like estate sale-specific websites (e.g., EstateSales.net, EstateSales.org), social media channels (Facebook Marketplace, Instagram), and classified ad websites (Craigslist, local community pages) are highly effective for advertising estate sales.   

Also, utilizing local newspapers and community bulletin boards can capture the attention of those who may not be as active online but are interested in estate sales. Including high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and clear information about the date, time, and location of the sale in these advertisements can significantly increase visibility and interest. 

Combining these online and offline advertising methods ensures a comprehensive approach, maximizing the potential customer base for the estate sale.