Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Since You Seem to be Interested...

You may remember me mentioning that since most of us have responsibilities, we don't have the time to individually appraise and sell each material possession that a loved one leaves behind after his or her death.  I said that most of us have to hire an estate sales company to process all the stuff.  Well, I tried that, only to be told that my mother's belongings were not worth his time or any other estate sales rep's time.

SAY WHAT?  He explained further that his clients would just be disappointed because I really had nothing to offer other than used furniture, some crystal, silver, gold, sculptures, paintings, china, tools, and antiques, and the market was already flooded with such stuff.  People are bored with that.  They now go to estate sales to find fine art and rare collectables.  He was more interested in some old, rusted cola temperature gauge that my father had hanging in the garage than he was in the other stuff.  The world is weird.

So, I'm back to square one.  The house has been put on the market and I will have 30 days from when we sign a contract with a buyer to move everything out of my mother's house.  I can try a few more estate sales reps, but the guy I met with swore that no one would do business with me.  He made me feel like I had cooties, because my mother wasn't rich enough.  He said I may as well donate everything.  I nearly fainted.

I think of how long it took my husband and I to build up the furniture we have, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would appreciate buying these barely used items at less cost than if they bought them new.  My mother literally has a huge sectional couch that has never been sat on.  It is in perfect condition.  She has hand-crafted art and collectibles from Africa, Russia, Ireland, Alaska, Hawaii, and from various Native American tribes, but the guy only viewed them as souvenirs.   I'm having a hard time believing that a lifetime of purchases can be worth nothing.

My mother studied art history in college and was an artist herself.  Many of the paintings on the walls were hers, and I thought it was interesting that the estate sales rep did a double-take and checked for a signature on her paintings.  Unfortunately, she didn't sign them, but I guess they were good enough that he thought someone famous might have painted them.

Sure, I'll donate some of the less personal stuff -- I already have donated some -- but I'm not going to donate all of it.  If I have to, I will put on the estate sale myself.  Supposedly, the value of silver has been at an all time high recently.  I found a collectable solid silver plate with gold etchings, looked it up on the Internet and saw it valued by the Franklin Mint at $1,440.  Then I saw the same plates being sold on eBay for $300.  I don't get it.  It's like a person pays through the nose to purchase something, and as soon as they touch it, it drops in value to a fraction of what they paid.  What's the point in even buying anything?

My real estate agent was telling me about a guy who will move everything out of a house for free, but he won't pay you for the stuff either.  He gets paid for doing the moving of all the furniture by the profit he makes selling the stuff at swap meets. 

I'm thinking I might take things in steps if I have enough time.  One thrift shop will take some of the larger antiques on consignment, but I have to pay for shipping to their store.  I'm selling other items to a relative, and he will pay for his own shipping.  I promised the neighbor who has been helping out that he can have some tools from the garage.  He said he'd take all of them if I let him.  An old high school friend saw some items he was willing to pay me for, and there were others I said he could have for free.  We don't have any room in our house to ship anything here, and we really don't want to have to pay for storage.  The trick will be figuring out how to find homes for all the leftovers in the shortest amount of time.

I wish I had the time to ship, store, photograph, catalog everything and sell it all over the Internet, but the reality is that I've never been able to sell a single item that way.  I put things up for sale on eBay and get no bids.  I put out classified ads in papers and get no calls.  I put on yard sales and end up giving everything away for free, because I realize that other people need the money more than I do.  I've always said it takes a special personality to be a salesperson.  I don't have what it takes.  So, until a closing date on the sale of the house is determined, I'll just have to keep the faith.


Ms Martyr said...

My father died two years before my mother so we were able to downsize her belongings gradually. Almost all of the furniture, kitchen stuff, etc., was given to families in Mexico who were willing to transport it. Clothing was donated to charity and a lot of knickknack items were trashed. Unfortunately, most items are only valuable to those that collect them or their heirs. I brought home a ton of stuff that I don't really want/need but knew it had been important to my mom. I have no kids so it will all end up in a scrap pile some day. Oh, and the Franklin Mint is a huge ripoff. Their prices are so inflated as to be almost criminal.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Unbelievable! What a snob. I think I might try to do an estate sale myself if I were you. The antiques must be worth something, maybe if you contacted an antique dealer in her area. Good luck.

fernvalley01 said...

My first insticnt was to say the estate guy doesn't know sh*t from shinola.But I suppose with an aging population and the economy as it is , he could be right, but there is no need to be so negative. I would contact a couple others if you have the time . Too Bad your mom never signed her work,It would have been a great family memento at the very least .

Rising Rainbow said...

Seems to me if you can get some people through there, you can see the stuff. Just be open to offers.

I have friends here dealing with an estate and that's what they did. Sold lots of stuff, gave some away and ended up donating very little. The hard part is letting go of expectations about what it should bring and being happy to take what you can get. Better than nothing but still frustrating.

Cheryl Ann said...

My aunt gave me 5 rings to sell after my uncle died. ALL gold. One had a little diamond. 5 gold rings. My husband had them appraised. $285 for all 5 of them! SAY WHAT????? I couldn't believe it. she told us just to return them and she'll deal with them later. She gave most of my uncle's stuff to Goodwill. ALL his cameras went to my cousin. When my mom died, I donated most of her stuff to the local thrift store. I kept some momentos, but I think right now the market IS flooded with people selling stuff...isn't it depressing?

Linda said...

Dang!!! I want to come to your sale. It sounds like a bunch of great stuff. If you see a pair of bobbing head kissing eskimos in her collection, contact me. My grandparents came to visit us in Alaska and bought a set and every summer at their house, it being the only toy, I played with them. I bought a set off ebay but I dropped one and broke its head. So you see, it just takes the right person to find value in something--and you can never guess the reason. I also collect old botanical books--and I've paid a lot for them. If I were to die, my kids would probably just take them to goodwill not knowing their value. If I were you, I'd have the estate sale and then list some of the more rare items on eBay. You'll sell them.

Cut-N-Jump said...

CL is constantly flooded with stuff for sale, People looking to sell everything in their house before they move and others hoping to snap stuff up for next to nothing and bank on someone elses misfortune. It's a crap shoot at best sometimes.

Even in a less than flooded market with a stronger economy, you can price something fairly and you get nothing but tire kickers, only to find out they went somewhere else, paid twice as much for half the quality.

Chin up. All things in due time.

Your situation beats that of my friend. Her aged mother (80) has a nurse who has been selling everything off For her. Mom is still going strong but the trust is nearly gone, the house just sold, she ditched all the furniture and has filed restraining orders to keep them apart. In the end the attorney fees and court costs will have wiped out whatever is actually left.

Breathe said...

Craigslist garage sale. One weekend. Rest goes to charity that will pick up. Price everything as if it's a bit of a gift.

At least some folks in need might be able to get things they will treasure.

Your right. It's not worth owning anything.

'cept horses. :)