There’s a word for people like us – LIVEABOARDS! We slept in our “land bed” for the last time about a month ago, right before our estate sale took place. We finally got everything sorted and left behind the things we decided we could/had to live without, to be priced and sold by “professionals”. Yeah, there’s a reason that’s in quotes.
I’m torn as to whether or not it was worth it to let someone else handle the sale. A lot of the hardest work we had already done – scrutinizing every single thing we owned and choosing what to sell. The estate sales people then organized it all, priced it and managed the one-day sale, all for 35% of the proceeds. Three years ago, because of a job-related move, we downsized from a 2000 sq ft house to 1200 sq ft. A year later we did the same, to a 1000 sq ft home. Each time, we sold and donated items. This gradual downsizing made the final shedding of stuff much easier and faster, but still, after 20 years, a 1000 sq ft home can hold a lot of stuff – enough stuff that it can take a team of 3-4 people 4 days to get it all ready. In that, I appreciated having their help.
The pros are here to tell you that your stuff ain’t worth a thing! Get over it! Oh, and a lot of things you think people will buy are really just trash that they choose not to display at all. Apparently, some of our trash was no man’s treasure. It was a wake up call to sneak back into our house the night before and find out how little some of our precious belongings were going for, and how many things were still in cabinets and drawers, not to be sold. We later learned that most of these items were somehow overlooked by these pros, including all of our potted plants that our neighbor was informed were not for sale, even though they were. It took a lot of self-control to not run around with a marker, increasing all the prices, or pulling things out of hiding to be added to the sale. I also found a few things that were part of a set, or pieces of appliances, separated. I did my best to put things where I thought they belonged and hoped for the best.
We went out of town and didn’t hear a thing for days, even when I tried to contact the manager! I knew it was best to remain distant from the whole process, but SOME communication would’ve been nice. When we returned we found a note breaking down the total and were quite surprised at how little we’d made. Seeing how many of our things were unsold explained that to some extent, but the larger and/or nicer items that did sell didn’t make as much as we expected. We realized that our work was not done. We had budgeted for more and, dang it, we were sticking to our budget! Giving ourselves a week, we decided to see how much more we could sell ourselves.
By the following weekend we sold all of the remaining large furniture online or to friends, found a buyer for all of our Jazz Fest posters and hosted a moving sale to get rid of the rest of the stuff. Guess what?? It worked! Things flew out of our house in a frenzy, even the items the pros deemed “unsellable”. When it was done, we had doubled our take from the first sale. The best part was that it was all ours, no 35% to share with strangers.
My sis-in-law had offered to help us prep for the original sale. (Thanks, Audrey!) Had I taken her up on her generous offer we may have been able to handle the whole sale ourselves. So, my advice to those of you who are reading this and planning your own move aboard, or just trying to downsize is, if you can enlist the help of friends or family, and you are not overly attached to your stuff, do it yourselves. You are a better judge of how to part with your own things than you may be given credit for. Huh, I guess I’m not torn after all.