Sandra Says

Closing a Home — A 20-Year Veteran’s Advice

Most of us will have to close a long-term residence at least once. This can seem downright impossible. Over the last 20 years, I have done this countless times, first for aging parents, then for others who hired me to help. Here are some things that people going through this process should keep in mind:

  • The house, condo, or apartment is the most valuable asset. The expenses continue while family members argue over who gets what or otherwise postpone emptying the house.  Emotional paralysis can drain your savings.

  • Homeowners insurance on an unoccupied house can be prohibitively expensive. Coupled with taxes and maintenance expenses, holding on to an empty home is economically unwise.

  • The home often cannot be sold until it is empty. However, dealing with the contents of the home can be challenging because of the memories that things evoke. There will always be things that family members and friends want. But, what do you do with unwanted items?

A certified appraiser can be a good place to start. He or she can point out items of greatest value and give advice. “This gives them an independent evaluation of their property by a knowledgeable professional who has no conflict,” according to Todd Sigety, an ISA certified appraiser. This can be especially important when selling items directly to a private dealer. Know what you have and what it is worth. A dealer’s goal is to maximize his or her profit, not yours.

If you have a large amount of items, an on-site estate sale is probably your best option. Other people buy your items and then they haul them away. Of course, you can conduct your own sale.  Just remember that agents specializing in estate sales are experienced, are knowledgeable about the market value of your things, and have resources for crowd control and to minimize theft.

If you have just a few things, give them to a charity. This works for you and the receiver and may qualify you for a tax deduction. Not all charities will pick up from your location and most are unwilling to accept certain items, so be sure to call and confirm policies with the charity of your choice.

If you have valuables that you want to sell and do not want a full estate sale, an estate sale agent may be able to accept them for a sale in another location. Otherwise, send those things to auction, sell to a dealer, or consign them in a store. Whether you utilize an estate sales agent, auctioneer, dealer, or consignment shop, read their contracts, ask questions, get references and, as with most major decisions, shop around.

Transition Services for Moves and Estates, LLC