Expert handles liquidation of estate with ease #663

#663 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Our client was selling her Oakland home of 30 years and relocating to the East Coast near family. Because she would be moving to independent living, the plan was that no furniture would be shipped, just her clothes and a few personal items. Still, a formidable amount of time would be required. Her house was full, lots of sorting and choosing would be required.

She was very fortunate to have friends and family to help over the months it took to pack and ship what she wanted and to wind up her affairs here. She turned over the house to us with it still quite full. We brought in our estate sale genius, Sharon Hoyle. Sharon has held a number of contents sales for our clients in the past but this particular sale was especially interesting to me.

Sharon is amazing. She’s smart, steady and fast. She came, looked at what was to be included in the sale, estimated what amount of money the sale would bring and what Sharon’s minimum fee would be. Sale dates were set for after the seller had left.

From then on, it was Sharon’s responsibility to clear the house. Sharon and her assistant arrived early on a Wednesday and went through every closet, box, dresser in every room. They sorted and moved items for display at the sale. Larger furniture was moved into downstairs rooms so it could be taken away by buyers quickly. Smaller items were collected together into like bunches. Jewelry and coins and other small valuables went into a display case.

The two women worked quickly. By the end of the first day they had everything largely organized. They’d found several hidden stashes that the seller had forgotten she even had – a stack of credit cards, a silver dollar, a hundred dollar bill – all returned to our surprised seller.

The next day the women were back to clean out the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator of milk, spices, numerous bottles of vinegar. They marked for sale pots, pans, dishes and unopened bottles of wine. They took bedding off the beds, rounded up garden pots, some with plants in them, some empty ones, too.

By the third day at the house all larger items were priced and many smaller ones. Sharon set up a check-out area where she would make duplicate receipts for every sale. The second copy would be saved for the seller so that she would know how much each items sold for.

There was a piano, an old upright, no doubt extremely heavy. Clients of ours have had problems in the past selling or giving away old uprights and we didn’t think we’d have much luck with this one. But Sharon said she’d put in on Craigslist as free, maybe that would work. It didn’t, and then very suddenly, late the evening before the sale, Sharon got a phone call from someone who said he’d be there in the morning to get it.

In fact, he showed up, arrived with 5 big men, and they picked up that piano and moved it down a few stairs, around 2 tight corners, out the front pathway, down a few more stairs and somehow got it onto a truck. Gone. I was glad I hadn’t been there to see it; I get very nervous watching people carry heavy awkward things, always sure they’ll drop them.

Sharon also advertised the sale in local newspapers, posted it online, and called individual dealers she knows about specific items that would be in the sale. For example, in this house were many phonograph records, 45 rpm singles and larger albums. (Lots of Bob Dylan.) A couple of dealers did come to the sale and the first one bought $2500 of records. I found that pretty interesting.

The sale was held on a Saturday and a Sunday. There were quite a number of items left. The seller had agreed to donating leftovers to Clausen House in Oakland. When we got to the house the day after the sale, a couple of Clausen House people were removing all that they thought they could sell in their shops. A few items, such as mattresses and box springs, were listed by Sharon on Freecycle and picked up in front of the house.

We were surprised by which furnishings had not sold: a Drexel-type dining room table and chairs, an armoire used to house a TV and stereo, a pair of matching loveseats. All of these were donated to Clausen. And still there were things left.

Now came the last of takers, a junk dealer who wants everything. He took books, clothes, bedding and stuffed toys that Clausen did not. For a few hours we watched as the last of our seller’s belongings were carried to trucks. Sharon loaded her folding tables and swept the floors.

Pat Talbert & Anet Tarpoff are residential real estate agents who can be reached at 653-2050. You can sign up on this page to receive these columns by email.

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