When seniors move and downsize, they often leave a home full of belongings accumulated over a lifetime. Clearing the house for sale is often more work than moving! Kathleen McGonagle, owner of Rose's Daughters, Inc. offers the following suggestions and resources for clearing a house.
If you are willing to have an estate sale, contact estate sales companies to visit the house AFTER you are clear about what you will sell. All estate sale conductors will take a percentage commission of the sales and will also want a guaranteed minimum amount of sales. The minimum amount and the commission amount vary from different companies. They can tell you if you have enough for a sale. When signing the contract for an estate sale, be clear about all the costs of advertising the sale and cleaning the house after the sale.
Find private estate sale companies in the yellow pages under "Estate Sales." Two non-profits that conduct sales in the Twin Cities area are Ebenezer Hearts and Hands (612.874.3460) and Trust (612.269.1865).
If an estate sale is not an option, there are other good ways to dispose of the house's contents.
Higher value items can be sold through consignment stores. Look under "Consignment Shops and Services" in the Yellow Pages. Commissions, policies and restrictions vary, so call first and find out what a particular store's requirements are. Expect to pay at least a 30%-35% commission and you will be required to transport the items and pick them up if they do not sell.
EBAY.com is one option for selling items via the Internet. If you or someone you know is not computer savvy, businesses will sell your items on line and then take care of the shipping. Again, expect at least a 30% commission. Craigslist is a local option for selling or trading, and since it is local, it's easier to complete the sale and delivery. For seniors, the disadvantage of Craig's List is that the listed item will generate interest in coming to the home to see the item. You may want to have someone at your home with you when people from the Internet visit your home to take a look at the item(s) you're selling.
The Internet user can dispose of items by using Freecycle. You post a description of the item you are giving away and interested people leave you emails offering to take it. You select the recipient and arrange the pickup time and place. It can be as anonymous as you wish, even to having it picked up at the end of your driveway.
Donating items to charity is an excellent way to empty a house while helping others. Some charities will pick up but most charities have restrictions, so call and find out what they will not take. Locate charities that accept donations, again the Yellow Pages is a great resource.
After consignment stores, charitable donations, and friends and family, some things will still be left in the house:
- Bring hazardous waste to a community site. Check your local community for the times and places.
- Look in the Yellow Pages under "Garbage & Rubbish Removal" for places to rent dumpsters (you carry and fill the dumpster) or for companies that do junk removal (they carry and haul it).
- Shred personal papers. For high volume shredding call Shred-it (952.893.0080) for dates and times that the public can bring shredding a Shred-it location. The cost of shredding is based on the weight of the documents.