More Than Just Things: Options and Tips for Downsizing

Life transitions often mean that we need to make decisions about what to do with years of accumulated personal property that no longer physically fits our new space, does not fit with our new lifestyle, or that needs to be liquidated to meet financial obligations. It is comforting to know there are professionals who can assist in providing effective advice and downsizing services during what is often a stressful time.  There are several options to consider:

I Have Too Much Stuff!  Options for Liquidation and What They Each Mean

by Marie LeBlanc, BS, MBA, – Aging Life Care Association™ Corporate Partner

Whether you are downsizing yourself or managing the estate of a loved one, there are several options for selling or liquidating personal property:

Fixed, Single Price Sale

In this option, a dealer will usually come to the home, look over the contents and offer a complete price for the entire lot. While this is the most painless and efficient method of clearing everything out, there is no way for the sellers to know if there were, in fact, items of significant value in the home nor to feel truly comfortable that they have received the “best price” for their personal property.

Auction House Placement

Placing pieces with auction houses and consignment shops allows the auction house or shop owner to likely achieve a very viable high market price for the items. However, this process takes a fair amount of time to complete the turnover of items to cash and large commissions are the norm, resulting in less cash to the client. Also, this process would only apply to a limited number of items within most households. This leaves the seller in the position of needing to find other avenues of liquidating or disposing of the remaining household items.

On-site or Estate Sales

Sales of this nature can be completed by the family or by professionals focused on that business. Items are left in the home and tagged with sale prices. The home is normally opened to the public for set hours over a two-day period while the sale is running. This option for liquidation can be emotionally and physically draining on family members and friends. In addition, most individuals are not in a position to make an educated determination on the appropriate price for pieces. Again, the seller is left in the position of needing to find other avenues of liquidating or disposing of the remaining household items.

Property Inventory

In some cases, the family, executor, or individual may simply need a comprehensive inventory of the items contained in the home along with basements, attics, garages, and other attached or detached storage areas.

High-Value Items/Collections

If there are specific items or collections that you feel are of significant value, arrange for an appraisal by a professional. If these items are determined to be of a value more in line with an auction sale, items can be sold through auction, netting the best market price. Auctions may be held through an auction house or on eBay, which is a web-based on-line auction center, as appropriate.

Full Liquidation

If full liquidation is needed, consider the benefits of working with a professional move manager. These professionals have the resources to completely arrange an on-site sale, including the arrangement and placing of items in an appropriate display, pricing and tagging all items, staffing the sale during all hours of operation, and collecting and tracking all monies. Once a sale is completed, you have various options for disposal of any remaining items, including donations to charity (with possible tax deductions), trash disposal, and sales to secondary market dealers which would yield further cash.

Just remember, you do not have to tackle “the stuff” alone. Contact an Aging Life Care Professional to find the right professional move manager and resources to make a smooth and stress-free transition.

About the author: Marie LeBlanc, BS, MBA, is the president and owner of Transitions Liquidation Services in Hyannis, MA, a move management and rightsizing company founded in 2002.  Transitions Liquidation Services has completed over 700 transitions and Marie is an active speaker on the topics of moving, rightsizing and hoarding.  Follow Marie on Facebook and LinkedIn.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.