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Disposing of Stuff Due to Downsizing, Death, Divorce or Debt

Updated on August 10, 2014

Downsizing is a Major Undertaking

If you are trying to figure out how to fit in those newly inherited antiques into a very small space, or liquidating your assets, or moving into a new smaller home, there is help out there. Emptying an average size house of 2,500 square feet or larger can be a difficult and overwhelming job without help.

It might be time to find a professional liquidator to help you. Downsizing, death, divorce, and debt are the four reasons that require disposing of contents. When any of these happen to you help can be as close as a phone call away.

I often get calls from couples who say we are moving to a new home and it's a lot smaller. Can you help me get rid of my stuff? Living busy lives leaves no room to think about getting rid of the excess especially when there's enough room in that big house. Over the years we accumulate stuff, a lot of stuff. We all have drawers full of gifts we'll never use, and furniture that serves no functional purpose other than it's familiar and all the furniture that's inherited from family. Now it's time to get rid of the excess and keep what will actually serve us in the new space that is half the size. Before I visit the house to evaluate sellable items, I ask the owners to do a simple exercise. Walk through the house and ask yourself if you've used things in the past year. Consider that most of the stuff people keep they keep with an unmet goal. Plus, for the items you are having a hard time parting with it store it for 6 months and make a deal with yourself that if you have not used it by then, you'll get rid of it. Downsizing can be a gift. Couples who embrace the idea of living small don't have the financial burden of owning stuff or no longer have to dedicate the time it takes to maintain the stuff they own. Once you are surrounded with the things you really love you can rejoice.

The Key to a Successful Liquidation When Death Occurs

If you have experienced the death of a loved one you may be faced with the job of disposing of the contents in order to put the family home on the market for sale. I worked with a family of four adult children, all now living an average of 600 miles away. Their mother died at the age of 82 and left a 3,000 square ft. house full of furniture and other contents that needed to be sorted through and sold before the house can be put on the market. Because the children were in different states, working, and managing a life full of responsibilities it was difficult for them to travel the number of times needed to settle the estate. Plus, dealing with the grief that accompanied the passing of this dear mother was simply underestimated. Their decision to hire someone local relieved the pressure of time constraints and the overwhelming feelings of an impossible task. While there was still of lot of decisions to be made by the children, I was able to handle many of the details that were related to the cleanup of the house and sale itself.

When presented with the emotional and overwhelming task of dealing with the things left behind by a parent it is best to give yourself some time between the funeral and the dissolution of property. Most families wait a year before scheduling the sale of real estate or an estate sale. It's just hard to deal with memories that may not have been dealt with for a long time. Once the decision has been made to market the family home getting a liquidator who has experience dealing with families' hearts in addition to contents should be your goal.

Division of Assets During a Divorce

In many cases of divorce there is a need to liquidate assets and distribute the cash proceeds of a sale between the husband and wife. Although there are some minor variations from state to state, there are more similarities on how to dissolve assets. Undertaking the liquidation of the assets according to the court rules is necessary in order to complete the case in a timely manner.

The normal process in the cases of divorce is to itemize assets and hire an appraiser to value all the property. Different appraisers specialize in different types of content for example jewelry, antiques, or tools. When this process is completed file the aprasial report with the court and then you can proceed to the organization of the sale of the contents with an estate liquidation company or auction house.

Turning Assets into Cash

The recession has been hard on everyone. Even those with jobs have resorted to using credit to make up the difference in salary cuts and unexpected expenses. If you find yourself over committed with debt a liquidation sale may be for you.

It is important to understand that most property is valued at only 50% of the retail price no matter what was paid for the furniture or object. When raising cash immediately is the goal you may want to organize an estate sale yourself. But, in order to make sure your more valuable items are priced properly hire an appraiser to give you a verbal approximation for those items.

Use this time to really clean out your house. Follow these instructions to plan a profitable sale.

  1. Inventory each room of the house and ask yourself if you have used the item in the last year. If not, mark the item for sale.
  2. Do not forget the drawers. Overtime, drawers get filled with small objects. It's the small stuff that can add up. Divide those into $1 and $5 boxes.
  3. Advertise. You have to spend money to attract those who spend money hunting for treasures. Highlight desirable pieces such as like new furniture and unique items such as collectibles.
  4. Advertise in the local paper's classified section, Craig's list, and each community has a Facebook yard sale page. If you are ambitious you can create a temporary page on Facebook.
  5. Make local fliers and distribute them to all your neighbors and on all the public bulletin boards such as local coffee houses and other gathering spots.
  6. Put directional signs up that are colorful and are over-sized. Use something larger than an 8.5" x 11".
  7. Prepare for rain. It is advisable to have a sale rain or shine because you have invested your time, advertising money and energy for many weeks in preparation for this weekend. Rent tents if rain is predicted and make sure your stuff will be covered. A little rain will not deter people from coming unless it really is a monsoon.
  8. Have fun. Remember the sale has to be conducted in order raise money to relieve the stress of your debt.

If you find that you do not have the time to do conduct a sale yourself you can always hire a company to conduct the sale for you for a percent of the proceeds. While you won't have as much in your pocket, you will not have to handle the details on top of your life at this stressful time.

One More Reason to Consider an Estate Sale

Some people love to buy stuff and have a buildings full of it. In that case, find a liquidator with space to sell it for you. If there is stuff stored, it only costs you money every month, depending on the size of the storage building. Even if you decide to keep a few key pieces, you will reduce the amount you invest each month when you sell your least favorites.

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