Real Estate Rundown February 9, 2024

Clearing Out the Stuff

Cleaning out a property is a daunting task. Not cleaning it, clearing it. Ridding the property of all the furniture, the closets, cabinet contents, the dishes, the linens, the bedding, storage rooms, garage and sheds. Leaving only the real property…the real estate.


Several years ago I assisted a family who had two estate homes to clear out.  These homes had been owned and occupied for over forty years.  Yes, that is forty years of accumulation .


There are options to consider when faced with a whole property clean out depending on proximity of family members and the time that one is willing to dedicate. A good old rummage sale can make a dent, but as you sort through the items, do your research to determine if anything is collectable or valuable.


You may want to have a local antique dealer give an opinion of value.  They may even make you an offer on individual pieces. Some companies can be hired for a “Tag Sale” in which they sort and price all the personal items and host a two or three day sale inside the property.  This may be one step up from the average rummage.  These companies typically have a following of buyers to attract to each sale. 


Facebook Marketplace is a good source to sell items or even post “FREE,” however, you must deal with meeting the buyer for pickup and hauling away. As the saying goes, “one person’s junk is another’s treasure.”  Furniture repurposing is at an all time high, so Gram’s old hutch may be worth more than you think. 


An auction could attract many bidders to push items to their highest price. An auctioneer may advise that the inventory needs to bring a certain amount to make it worth anyone’s time. Advertising costs and the auctioneer fee will eat up a good chunk of the profit. Research auction houses that hold consignment sales regularly.  These companies need inventory and may agree to take all your contents and sell them for a percentage of the proceeds.  This could be a one and done route if that fits your needs. 


If you are willing to donate, there are many non-profit organizations that are willing to accept your items and some will pick up. Clothes and household items are always in need. You can collect a donation receipt for tax purposes. 


No one wants to be wasteful but some items will need to be tossed.  Recycle the empty margarine tubs and throw out the musty-dusty silk roses. A dumpster for some may be a necessity. 


The amount of time from sort to sale will most likely be more than you estimate. Start with organizing to like-kind groups of items and then execute your best clearing plan. And don’t forget to appreciate the memories these items may stir up or the lives that held these treasures for so many years.