How to Hold an Estate Sale to Downsize or Declutter

Maybe you’ve heard of estate sales before and thought they were something just for people moving into old folks’ homes and downsizing. While it’s absolutely true that if you’re a senior or have a loved one in that stage of life ready to downsize or move into a retirement home, holding an estate sale can help you prepare for that. But, there are other times you can hold an estate sale as well — specifically for decluttering purposes or moving elsewhere. 

Holding an estate sale can be fun, overwhelming, and exhausting all in one. Whether you’re holding it to downsize for retirement or to declutter before you move, it’s important to have a plan for the sale so you don’t skip a step or miss anything important. 

DIYing Your Estate Sale

There are many professional companies that will help you hold an estate sale. If you want the sale to happen quickly and aren’t worried about losing a portion of the funds earned, you may want to look into this option a little. However, holding an estate sale on your own will give you the freedom to make more of your own decisions as well as keep all the money from the sale. Follow the steps below to get your estate sale up and running. 

Determine & prepare your inventory: Before doing anything else, you’ll want to decide what belongings you will sell, keep, or gift to family members or friends. This can be a long process, but something that can help is by eliminating the “maybe sell” or the “come back to later” pile. This will extend the process and put more work on you later. Once you have a firm grasp on how many items you need to look through and touch up or clean, set a date and time for your sale.

Appropriately price your items: To give your inventory the best chance to sell, do your research on similar items to find out what they’re priced at. You also want to make sure you have every item marked as either “for sale” with its designated price or “not for sale” if you don’t plan on selling it.   

Display each item: More often than not, estate sales occur at the home of the person whose items are being sold. To give the potential buyers a better idea of the value certain items can bring to their home, leave the things that are for sale in the places you’d normally find them in a home. For example, leave the beds in the bedrooms and the fine china (if any) in the kitchen or dining area. 

Prepare for purchases: Before the day of the sale, be sure to head to the bank to get a few bills ranging from $1-$10 so you’re prepared with change if potential buyers bring cash. Be prepared to take other forms of payment as well, like Venmo or credit cards if you feel it’s necessary. 

Do some advertising beforehand: The last thing you want is to go through all the work, only to have no one show up to the sale. One easy way to get the word out is by talking with neighbors and letting them know the date and time of your sale. You can also hang signs on poles around the neighborhood so people can find the sale. However, before hanging signs anywhere, talk with your local government to make sure it’s okay to do so. 

Holding an estate sale can be a lot of work, but also very rewarding. The above steps should help you stay organized so you don’t skip a beat, but if you’re looking for more tips, check out this guide to holding an estate sale that Annuity.org created. You can also download the free printable price tags and estate sale checklist below to get started on planning for your sale. 

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