Client Frequently Asked Questions 



The idea of organizing and conducting a sale can be a daunting task. Calling on a professional and reputable estate services company to manage this responsibility is a solution for many. Here are some questions that our clients have asked that may also be occurring to you:



  • What is the first step?


Contact us, explain your situation, and schedule an appointment. We will view the home and its contents and listen to your specific concerns. Together with you, we will decide how to proceed in caring for your belongings or that of a family member. We will answer your questions and discuss when the sale could be held.


  • When should I call you?


Call as soon as you think that you might need our services. In some cases, an executor must wait to obtain a Letter of Authority to execute any legal documents; it can be several weeks before these are received. Don’t wait until you receive them! It is beneficial for us to preview the home and contents, especially regarding items that should be retained and those that could possibly be discarded. What could seem worthless and ready for the dumpster to you often has value and appeal to another. In any case, calling sooner than later puts you in a better position to understand what lies ahead.


  • What is the charge for the initial appointment?


There is no charge.


  • What will it cost me for you to prepare and conduct the sale?


You pay nothing up-front or out-of-pocket. We pay the expenses out-of-pocket for the entire sale. Our commission is a percentage of sales, which we deduct from the proceeds after the sale is concluded. The details for your sale will be specified in a contract so that there is a clear understanding of the terms.


  • Should I throw out newspapers, magazines, and cleaning supplies?


Depending on their condition, these items could be salable and should be included in the sale. We can let you know if you should dispose of such items. Some people are collectors of old newspapers and magazines. And, as for cleaning supplies, many people see value in purchasing them, even if they are partially used.


  • Should I donate clothing, towels, and linens?


Again, these items can be sold and can increase the proceeds of the sale, unless these items are torn and stained.


  • How much time does it take to get ready for a sale?


This depends upon several factors…size and condition of the home, how many possessions are in the home, the condition of those possessions, whether there are out-buildings and how many there are and how full they are. The time frame can be determined after we have previewed your property.


  • What is involved in setting up a sale?


We bring in our supplies such as display tables, shelving units, organizing containers, bags and tags, etc. We determine the most effective traffic flow in the home and set up our tables accordingly. We may also re-arrange furniture to enhance the usability of space. Once that is done comes the work of unpacking boxes, cabinets, drawers and closets. Items that can be sold are separated from those that cannot; items that cannot be sold are set aside either for donation or the trash. We research the value of any high-value items and price and tag all items, either individually or in bulk. Everything is beautifully arranged and displayed, ready for the buyers who will be attending the sale.


We price them based on our knowledge and experience of how much a given item is likely to sell for, which is fair and reasonable to both buyers and sellers. Pricing too low results in not obtaining as much as could have been realized. Pricing too high results in unsold items. For specialized items, we seek the guidance of experts to price the item accurately. Some items will sell for a better price if they are sold on other venues, such as auto dealers, jewelers, and art galleries.


  • What are my responsibilities?


Remove personal and financial documents, family photographs and memorabilia, and any items that are not to be sold. Once the contract is signed, all contents remain in the home. For the security and success of the sale, the home cannot be open to visitors.


  • How many days will you conduct my sale?


Typically, a sale runs for two to three days, (Thursday-Saturday) depending on the quantity of items to be sold. We work full days, not short days, to provide a greater opportunity to sell your possessions. Typically, this is from 9 to 5 on Thursday, 9-5 on Friday and 10-4 on Saturday. Occasionally, we add a Wednesday evening or a Sunday afternoon, if circumstances dictate.

  • On the days of the sale, how many people do you hire to assist with the sale?

We hire a sufficient number of people to (1) assist the buyers and (2) monitor your possessions. The number of people needed varies depending on the circumstances. For example, the size and layout of the house, number of rooms, number of floors, and the number of out-buildings are considered when deciding how many people are needed to provide adequate coverage for your sale. Having a sufficient number of helpful staff members on hand creates a customer-friendly atmosphere, which certainly can influence gross sales. 


  • How do you keep my belongings secure during the sale?


We limit the number of buyers allowed in the home at any given time. We hire sufficient personnel to monitor your possessions. Small, high value items are secured in locked cases. One of our team members is available to assist buyers who wish to examine anything in the cases. Larger high-value items are placed near the check-out personnel.


  • What happens if someone is hurt on my property?


Your property and liability insurance will cover any injuries that are deemed to be caused by your negligence. We carry liability insurance to protect you if an injury is due to our negligence. To reduce the likelihood of an accident, we assess the property for any safety hazards to the best of our ability. If we identify hazards, we alert everyone with signage, brightly colored tape, etc.

  • Will you pay your staff with items from my sale?


No. We pay our staff wages.


  • Do you offer discounts during the sale?


Generally, items are sold at the stated price on the first day. On the second day, we may offer a moderate discount, and then increase it on the following days. A sale is dynamic so we assess how much to discount and when, at our discretion. The goal is to target the fair market value, which is the price of an item as both the buyer and seller agree.


  • What payment methods do you accept?


We accept credit cards and cash, but not checks.


  • Will everything be sold, and, if not, what happens to the things that do not sell?


Even with the most successful sale, there are always items that don’t sell. Some items could continue to be marketed through our online sales service. Other items can be donated to a charity. And to leave the house empty and broom-clean, we offer our clean-out service at an additional charge.


  • Can we live in the house while you are setting up the sale?


As you can imagine, the home is in a state of upheaval during the set-up process and we need to completely focus on our work, working when and how we need to do so. Therefore, no one can live in the home or the property during the preparation for the sale and during the actual sale itself.

  • ​If the house is going to be sold, is it better to have the estate sale first or to list the house for sale first?

How this matter is handled can have significant consequences. There are differing opinions about this matter; the most prevalent opinion is to get the house listed and get showings started. My husband, Larry, is a Realtor and he understands that thinking. However, in our experience in conducting estate sales, it may be more beneficial to the seller of the home to have the estate sale first for the following reasons: 

(1) As explained in the previous question, the home is in a state of upheaval during the set-up process so the home does not present well for buyers nor is it conducive for buyers to be freely moving about the home. (2) Preparing for an estate sale requires the ability to focus on the task at hand; to accommodate visitors during this process changes that focus. (3)  If a buy/sell contract is negotiated before the personal property has been sold, it is common for the seller to lose control of the pace at which they need to sell the personal property. In some cases, due to the requirements set by the buyer, the seller either does not have enough time to have a sale and/or has difficulty coordinating their closing date with the openings on estate sale companies schedules. We have personally observed that this situation places the seller under a great deal of pressure. On the other hand, when the personal property is sold first, this provides the opportunity to sell the house unencumbered and free of anxiety with respect to the personal property.

  • What if I cannot have a sale in my home or there is not enough time to have a sale conducted?

There are other options.

  1. Conduct your sale "off-site" (this incurs moving expenses for the seller)

  2. Consignment sales for specific items

  3. Price and stage your belongings for you to conduct your own sale

Olson Estate Service - Phone (269-876-1031) - Email - Stevensville, MI

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