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How to Know You’ve Hired the Right Help When Selling an Estate or Downsizing

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Walking through the home of a loved one who has passed or a loved one who is leaving their cherished family home for extended care, can be emotional. The stress of having to empty the home for resale can be overwhelming and intimidating. Where do you even start when looking at a home full of furniture, photos, dishes, clothing, heirlooms, garbage and

even food etc. etc.

At a time of loss, clearing a home and selling it can be the breaking point for most people, which is why we recommend hiring professional help. Having someone to take the burden off of your shoulders, and help with the planning, coordinating, organizing, cleaning, liquidating, storing and selling can be priceless at a time like this. But finding the right help can be difficult.

Let us first do our best to explain exactly what most estate selling companies actually do. Most estate companies are needed after a death as a way to liquidate, move or store the decedent’s personal property and household goods. They’re also hired by individuals or couples who are downsizing and moving into a smaller place or an independent living facility.

No matter the situation, estate sales companies are often a monumental undertaking—which is why so many people outsource this daunting project. Estate Concierge has twenty-six years in business, and we know a thing or two about what to look for. Because there is a lot to consider and there is no doubt that you do need support, there are some things we recommend to watch for when hiring help.

How to Know You’ve Hired the Right Help for Your Estate Sale 1. You Feel a Sense of Trust.

Trust is number one for us for several reasons. If you feel like the business that you are about to hire is not being forthright with information or transparent with you in their contracts, fees or process, take that as a red flag.

From our experience, trust needs to be earned, and, is a two way street. You need to trust the professionals helping you, and they need to trust you too. If you feel like you can trust them, then the success of the working relationship and project completion will be better and stress will be less, If not eliminated.

Signs that you can trust the estate company: -It is easy to communicate with your trained professional

-Their policies are clear and protect both you and the help

-Everything that they are saying seems logical and well organized -They have thought of things that hadn’t crossed your mind

If any of that is not evident, do not hire them.

2.The Help is Transparent with Fees and Costs.

When you meet with them or make a phone call to inquire about help with clearing or selling an estate, does it sound like you are listening to a sales pitch or does it sound like they are seeking to genuinely understand your specific needs. From our experience, selling an estate is never the same from one project to the next, and there is a lot of information we would need to know before we ever quote a project.

In your initial meeting, is the help asking you to elaborate and explain your situation, or are they spending more time discussing their cookie cutter system? If the latter is true, that’s a red flag.

Make sure to ask a lot of questions about the billing process. Some companies charge a flat fee. Others charge commission. Some charge hourly. Pay attention to additional charges companies may not include such as cleaning services or junk removal. Make sure to ask if there are services that you will need to hire independently of the company, (Example: scanning photos, appraising and selling jewelry and coins.)

NOTE: It's a red flag when someone is making their income solely from the sale of items in the house. To us, that is a conflict of interest. The help should not want to benefit from selling your loved ones belongings. Their goal should be to look out for your best interest.

For example: If they know that coins, or collections could sell for a lot of money, they will be more likely to convince you to sell fast, rather than keep the items and sell later when you may be able to get a better price. Or, another example would be pushing to sell items that you or family members would want to keep as heirlooms or keepsakes, simply because it can fetch a pretty penny. Overall, we recommend reviewing all of the fees and costs and seeking clarification when needed to ensure you will be getting value for your money.

3. The Timeline Should Be Driven By The Client.

The last thing you need right now, during a time of grief and stress, is someone rushing you to make decisions and complete tasks before you are ready to do so. On the flip side, you also do not want to hire help who is not conscious of your deadlines and needs.

Based on our experience, the most successful jobs are not rushed unnecessarily, and the timeline is driven by the client. When this happens, decisions are made with confidence and clients are less likely to regret their choices to keep, sell or donate items.

4. Experience Matters.

Don’t get stung by less-than work simply because you hired the help with the smallest bill. Choosing to hire experienced professionals not only can save you time and stress, but they also can make you more money. The more experience estate professionals will have, the more connections they make in the community as well. Don’t be surprised if a seasoned estate team has appraisers ready, a hand picked, tried, tested and true team, cleaning and repair crews, and a network of buyers and charities ready to acquire your items.

Our advice is to read reviews and see what kind of experience and outcomes this company is known for. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, or to ask if they can share success stories from past clients similar to the one you would want for yourself.

Overall, we want you to feel confident with the help you choose, mostly because we are aware that during a time of loss, good help is priceless. We hope that this article serves you, and can help you make a smart decision when it comes to choosing who you will hire for your estate sale needs.

If you are curious to know more about how Estate Concierge and Downsizing can help you, feel free to review our services, or request a consultation. We would love to speak with you. CLICK HERE to connect with us.


Caroline Maurice,

Owner, Founder

Estate Concierge and Downsizing

Burlington, ON


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