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10 Things to Toss From Your Attic ASAP: How Many Are Hiding in Yours?

Posted on March 3, 2017 at 1:55 PM

By Julie Ryan Evans | Jan 31, 2017

Most of us don’t give our attics a whole lot of thought unless we hear creepy sounds emanating from the dank place. Typically, we stash stuff and shut the door as the piles up there grow higher and higher.

 

Clearing the clutter, however, can clear the way for so many possibilities. Some people renovate their attics, transforming them into playrooms, loft bedrooms, offices, and more. And even if you have no grand plan for the extra space, it’s still good to take inventory up there to see what you really need to keep in this space—and more important, what you don’t.

 

Here are 10 things to clear out of your attic ASAP. Be ruthless. You’ll feel cleansed afterward, at least spiritually.

Most of us don’t give our attics a whole lot of thought unless we hear creepy sounds emanating from the dank place. Typically, we stash stuff and shut the door as the piles up there grow higher and higher.

 

Clearing the clutter, however, can clear the way for so many possibilities. Some people renovate their attics, transforming them into playrooms, loft bedrooms, offices, and more. And even if you have no grand plan for the extra space, it’s still good to take inventory up there to see what you really need to keep in this space—and more important, what you don’t.

 

Here are 10 things to clear out of your attic ASAP. Be ruthless. You’ll feel cleansed afterward, at least spiritually.

 


1. Heaps of holiday decorations

 

If you use them each year, great—leave them be. However, if you haven’t put up that giant glowing reindeer in decades and there are boxes of ornaments that never make it onto your tree, it’s time to take inventory. Donate what you’re not using to clear up some space. And keep the temptation at bay to break ’em all out at once and go full Griswold.

 

2. VHS tapes, cassette tapes, and CDs

 

If you have every episode of “Charles in Charge” on VHS (or Betamax? Anyone?), countless cassette tapes of Whitesnake and Winger, and no working machine on which to play any of them (or desire to ever hear them again), then what the heck are you saving them for?

 

Family memories and anything special should be digitally converted to preserve them. Getting rid of the rest, however, can prove difficult—and not just because you’re emotionally attached to those old episodes of “Survivor.” It turns out that video and cassette tapes are some of the most difficult to recycle because the tape inside and the plastic outside must be handled differently.

 

To recycle these correctly, the experts at Green Citizen say you should remove the tape on the inside and toss it in the trash. The remaining plastic cartridge can be recycled.

 

3. Outdated electronics

 

From old TVs to defunct DVR players, MP3 players to video game systems, if they’re outdated or no longer working, there’s no reason to keep them. You really believe you’re going to use that Walkman again? You won’t. Don’t just ditch your electronics gear in a dumpster, though; find a way to donate, recycle, or resell them.

 

4. Piles of paperwork

 

Is it prudent to keep old receipts, tax records, and other financial documents for eternity? When it comes to truly important documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, estate planning documents, and military discharge papers, the answer is yes. However, the rest of it can go after a period of time.

 

Experts say tax records should be kept for seven years while items like ATM, bank deposit, and credit card receipts can be tossed after you reconcile them with your monthly statement.

 

5. Old clothing

 

Your daughter’s first Easter dress (and every cute outfit since then), your son’s Cub Scouts uniform, prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and so many other sentimental items of clothing are difficult to let go of. But what exactly are you planning to do with them?

 

If the answer is just keep them, you might want to think about donating, selling, or doing something with them, like making a quilt from the material.

 

6. Furniture

 

Not only can furniture take up a lot of room, they are also attractive to pests and rodents that would just love to make themselves comfy in the stuffing of your sofas and chairs. See which pieces you might be able to refurbish and use, and think about donating or selling the rest. If you have collectors’ items or heirlooms, make sure you get advice on how much they might be worth. (Have you seen “Antiques Roadshow”?) Clearing your clutter could bring you a pretty penny!

 

7. Old school papers and art projects

 

Memories are great, and of course you want to save some special school projects, report cards, and such. But if you have boxes of every worksheet and every coloring page your kids ever laid their grubby hands on, it might be time to sift through it all and decide how much of it anyone will ever want to look at again.

 

When it doubt, consider taking pictures of some of the special items and store them digitally while clearing out the real deal.

 

8. Old baby gear

 

If you stashed your kids’ high chair, crib, car seats, and other baby gear up there just in case you’ll need them again—and you’re now well past the childbearing age—clear it all out. Besides, baby items often get updated for safety, so saving it for your future grandchildren isn’t practical. Seriously, it’s just taking up space.

 

9. Old photographs

 

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you throw them out, but finding a better place than your attic for them is a good idea. If your attic isn’t climate-controlled, there’s a good chance they can be damaged by humidity and extreme temperatures. You’ll find out too late, so keep this trauma from happening in the first place.

 

10. Cardboard boxes

 

Sure, you got attached to them during your move—the good ones made it all so much easier. Not to mention the fact that you probably had to beg, borrow, and steal pay a hefty sum to round them up. But if you have no plans to move again any time soon and are just keeping all those boxes for someday, then it’s time to move on and let those boxes go. Not only are they likely to get damaged by the aforementioned elements of an attic that’s not climate-controlled, but they also take up a lot of space. If you still aren’t convinced, at least break them down so they’re flat.



A hoarder's estate can yield treasures and traumas

Posted on February 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM

By Chelsea Emery | NEW YORK


Nov 26 Daniel Allen stared in shock after opening the door to his grandmother's closet. Books, clothing and years of unused Christmas presents filled every inch. Another room was packed floor to ceiling with personal items such as books, photos and news clippings.


"She was a packrat," said Allen, who was helping his family clean his 92-year-old grandmother's Waterloo, Indiana, farmhouse after she passed away in March. "It was overwhelming."


Fortunately, Allen was more prepared than most. As a manager within Wells Fargo's Estates Services group, he works with families and executors to take an inventory, appraise and dispose of items after a death, so he was able to work through his initial disbelief.


Allen helped relatives sort through numerous items that had either monetary or nostalgic value, such as Polaroid cameras, mixing bowls and costume jewelry. Family members selected what they wanted and other items were packed off to a charity. Farm equipment that had belonged to Allen's grandmother was sold to offset some of the estate settlement costs.


Like Allen, relatives of extreme collectors or hoarders can be stunned when they enter a loved one's home after a death. When every surface is piled high with what appears to be rubbish, families are tempted to throw everything away.


That can be a bad idea.


"In the clutter of an extreme collector or hoarder, about 99 percent of the time there's something there, underneath a pile or hidden in the clutter, that will bring value to the estate when sold," Allen said.


Kristin Bergfeld, founder of New York-based Bergfeld's Estate Clearance Service that helps families sort through complex estates, confirmed that. She said she has found jewels sewn into the hems of garments, raw diamonds wrapped up in tissues and at least one rare, valuable book hidden under towels at the bottom of a linen closet.


HARD AND HEARTBREAKING WORK


Television shows like the A&E network's "Hoarders" and TLC's "Hoarding: Buried Alive," may make it seem like compulsive hoarding - in which people accumulate so much stuff that it clogs their living spaces and impedes their ability to function - is on the rise.


But the disorder has remained fairly constant, affecting between 2 percent and 5 percent of the population, according to Randy Frost, a psychology professor at Smith College who has studied the behavior.


Many other people exhibit borderline behavior - collecting one or a few categories of items to excess, but not actually blocking the pathways in their homes. Informally called "extreme collectors" or "packrats," they do not fall under the clinically recognized term of "hoarder."


But that distinction means little to a person pained by the overflowing estate of someone with either proclivity. The psychological pain of deciding what to sell, keep, or give away and what to toss can be worse than the cost.


"It felt like a bit of her memory was being lost," Allen said of watching his grandmother's possessions being thrown away.


THE SEARCH FOR HIDDEN VALUE


The financial cost of cleaning a hoarder's or packrat's estate can be significant. A professional helper like Bergfeld may charge $100 or more an hour to help sort and sell.


Heirs should also give themselves time to prepare for the psychological aspects of the task and then streamline it as much as possible. There are effective ways to do that:


Look for valuables. Check in unlikely places, like the backs of picture frames, inside books, throughout closets and in refrigerators and freezers for hidden cash or valuables.


Document cash and any possible valuables such as jewelry or art that you find. It will have to be itemized and the value declared, said Roland Sabates, manager of tax research at The Tax Institute, a research arm of H&R Block. Objects worth more than $3000 must be appraised by a certified professional, he said, and there are significant penalties for undervaluing an estate and underpaying estate taxes.


To determine values, check the free online database of 750,000 items at Kovels.com and online listings at eBay.com. You can also hire an appraiser to do an aggregate valuation of all of the personal property in the home. That can cost about $1,000 at $100 an hour, according to Patricia Atwood, a Chicago-area accredited appraiser specializing in antiques and decorative arts.


Charge expenses back to the estate; that reduces it and can cut estate taxes. (While federal estate taxes do not apply to estates of less than $5.12 million for people who die in 2012, state estate taxes can kick in at much lower levels.)


Executor commissions are deductible, as well as fees for attorneys, tax professionals, appraisers and estate sale experts.


Consider donating items worth less than $100 to a certified 501(c)(3) charity; that can lower the gross value of the estate, and those items may not be worth the time it would take to sell them.


If the estate falls under the estate-tax level, it makes more sense to inherit the household goods first and then donate them yourself. That way you can use the charitable tax deduction to limit your own income taxes.


KEEP, SELL OR DONATE?


Now comes the hard part: Disposing of the assets.


Ebay Inc's online auction site is one option, but not for those crunched for time. Plan to spend about two hours per item to photograph it, write the listing, answer questions, package and finally, send it. You also need to factor in fees paid to eBay and PayPal, which vary depending on the how much you reap from the auction.


If you're selling specialized items, look for other people devoted to the same specialty. There are websites for collectors of everything from model trains to snow globes and Pez candy dispensers.


Keep careful records of the proceeds - remembering to deduct fees - as they add to the value of the estate.


Some charities will agree to take almost everything left in a home, such as cooking supplies and furniture. When using this option, make sure it is a 501(c)(3) charity, and get a receipt.


Another option: Outsource everything. Companies such as Bergfeld's can clean the house, find appraisers, handle charitable donations and ship treasured items to family members. Fees vary, ranging from about $40 per hour, per worker to pack materials, and increasing along with the duties.


Some banks, such as Wells Fargo, have departments that can handle the same chores. On average, bank departments charge a one-time fee, plus a charge (typically about 3 percent) based on the gross value of the entire estate, a Wells Fargo spokesman said.


The more cluttered the estate, the more worthwhile using a trained professional with a keen eye might be.


"There will always be surprises," Bergfeld said. Like diamonds in the debris.

 

Asian Antiques Reach New Highs...

Posted on September 6, 2016 at 4:30 PM

England - If you thought that Asian antiques had topped out, think again!

 

The recent move in the antiques market for all things Asian seems to have no end in sight, as prices continue to escalate in virtually every area of collecting.

 

For proof, one need look no further than the popular British collecting show, Antiques Road Trip, which saw one of its two experts make a staggering 7,500% in profit on a bronze Buddha. The show, which centers on the two hosts of the program competing against each other on a road trip for the best "find" they can bring to auction, at the best realized price, recently set a record with the sale of a bronze Buddha for over $5,100.00 US dollars. Which is nothing to sneeze at when you consider the item is made of bronze - not gold or silver.

 

A former dealer from Brighton who watched the show was stunned, "I actually used to sell these types of items in my shop for less than twenty quid," said Nigel Rothe, "...and that was only a few years ago."

 

Anita Manning, one of the show's hosts, and the expert who came across the Buddha, said that she stumbled upon the figure in a Vintage Curiosities shop in Sandwich where it was marked for sale at £85. Knowing that legitimate antique Buddhas were currently fetching upwards of six-figure sums, while newer reproduction counterparts were worth virtually nothing, she decided to take the plunge and gamble on the chance that this one might be the real McCoy. After a little bartering with the shop owner Anita managed to get the price down to £50, hoping her instincts would prove her right at auction.

 

When the Buddha finally came up for sale, Manning said it was evident from the beginning of the auction that with international buyers in attendance, and a starting bid of a £1000, she knew her gamble was likely going to pay-off. After some jockeying from bidders the final hammer fell at £3800 (or approximately $5,100 US dollars).

 

Many dealers who reached out to online forums after the show to express their amazement at the final price, seemed genuinely surprised at the sudden surge in value for Asian items of this caliber. As one dealer lamented, "It's often the auctions that lead the way... we just have to follow their lead, and hopefully not have already given away too many items... too cheaply!"

 

- A.I.A. Staff Writers - Sept. 6th 2016 

Avoid Estate Sale Scams

Posted on September 5, 2016 at 12:15 AM

Avoid Estate Sale Scams

.

Estate sale companies appraise, price, and sell the personal property of people who have passed away or wish to downsize their households. Estate sale companies routinely handle estates valued at thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.It can be difficult to sort out reputable estate sale companies from untrustworthy ones, and consumers are encouraged to take precautions when selecting and contracting with estate sale companies.

“Jane” is seeking assistance selling items and property that her recently deceased father left behind when he died unexpectedly. She locates an estate sale company on the internet that claims it has been in business for decades with thousands of satisfied customers. She contacts the company, and its representatives promise that its “experts” run professional and transparent estate sales so that their clients have nothing to worry about and are quickly paid within weeks. The company promises to provide detailed itemizations of all sales so that the value and sales of all of the property is transparent and easily documented. Jane is grieving and there is so much to do in the aftermath of her father’s sudden death, that she immediately agrees to let the company operate the estate sale without closely reviewing the contract or shopping around.

 

Three months after the estate sale, Jane still has not received the proceeds of the estate sale, which she was hoping to use to defray some of the costs of the funeral. She has received only minimal paperwork regarding what items were sold and for how much, and the company, which initially made vague excuses about the “delayed” payment and accounting documents, has now stopped returning her calls altogether. Now Jane is struggling to find recourse to resolve the matter, and is considering having to hire a lawyer which she fears will only add more expense and worry to her situation.

Shop Around. Interview more than one company before you make your decision who to hire. Take your time and compare the companies’ rates and terms. You may wish to obtain a recommendation from a realtor, banker, or other trusted source.

Research the Company. Do your homework on a given company before you agree to sign a contract. Find out how long the company has been in business in Minnesota, and whether its employees have specialized credentials or are members of professional associations. Ask the company for references of multiple clients and contact them to inquire about the company’s prior performance.

Take time to closely review the terms and conditions in the contract. Make sure that each promise the company has made to you orally is set forth in plain language in the contract. Remember, the company may not honor any promise that is not specifically spelled out in writing in the contract. If a term is missing or unclear, demand that the contract be revised before signing it. Don’t be rushed and make sure you get everything in writing. If there are provisions that you do not understand or are concerned about, you may wish to consider having an advisor or an attorney review the contract for you.

Compare Rates and Fees. Closely scrutinize the company’s commission rates, and inquire about any and all fees, including moving expenses, appraisals, security, trash removal, cleaning, advertising, or other sale related expenses. Commissions can range as high as 30-40% and customers may not be aware that they can be charged additional fees on top of that. Request all the details related to proposed commissions and fees, and shop around and compare them to the rates of other companies to make sure that you are getting the best company.

Demand Immediate Payment. Before you sign any contract, discuss how and when you will receive payment, and insist on being paid your share of cash proceeds immediately after the sale has concluded. Insist that the contract provide specific deadlines by which the company must make payment and supply sale-related documentation, and provide penalties for the company’s failure to comply. Insist that the contract specifically bar the company from utilizing your share of sale proceeds for any purpose prior to payment.

Require the Company to Provide Detailed Records and Documentation. Before hiring a given company, insist that following the sale you will be given an itemized list identifying each item or group of items marked for sale and the actual price collected. Insist that following the sale you be given sales receipts and documentation of credit card and check transactions to substantiate the sales process.

Buyer etiquette at an estate sale.

Posted on August 22, 2016 at 12:45 AM

Buyer etiquette at an estate sale.

• Do not tell an estate sales liquidator what something is worth. You are there to buy, and here are your choices: Buy it now at the price stated, ask if they are taking bids to be reviewed toward the end of the sale, or ask if they may discount the item as the sale progresses.

• Don't say, "I'll give you ... ." You don't do that in Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears, etc. You either pay the price or you don't. You are not in an overseas marketplace where haggling is acceptable, and anyone that writes about estate sales and encourages this is not correct.

• If you are rude, a nuisance or just obnoxious, the estate liquidator may ask you to leave and may bar you from attending any of their sales.

• Stealing may result not only in expulsion but in a visit from police. If you try to change a price tag, you are putting your future buying at risk, and estate sales companies share information about people who are security risks.

– Carol Madden, estatesalesnews.com

Lucky Rabbit-Produced Documentary Short to Premiere at Long Island International Film Expo

Posted on June 16, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Lucky Rabbit-Produced Documentary Short to Premiere at Long Island International Film Expo

“Calling All Collectors” highlights estate sale of prized collection from retired 9/11 responder

June 16, 2016 (City, State) – Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales is pleased to announce that their documentary short "Calling all Collectors" will premiere at the 18th Annual Long Island International Film Expo.

The 2015 documentary, scheduled to show on July 17th from 4:15 pm - 6:15 pm, depicts the Ultimate Collectors Estate Sale held in Huntington, Long Island which featured the vast collection of a retired Nassau County police officer and former 9/11 responder. The 8 minute short is among over one hundred short and feature-length independent films from all over the world that will premiere at the Long Island International Film Expo from July 13 – 21 at Bellmore Movies in New York.

“We produced this documentary as a gift to our client who became ill post-911 and never expected that it would attract this much attention. It certainly feels wonderful to have our very own self-produced film premiering alongside an impressive lineup of talented work from around the world,” says co-owner of Lucky Rabbit, Paul J. Dunn.

Calling all Collectors gives a brief look at the extensive array of prized collectors’ items which included life-sized statues of celebrities and movie characters, sports memorabilia and team figurines, rare Pez collection, vintage signs and advertising, Coca Cola memorabilia, as well as a large shark model that appeared in the movie Jaws.

The Long Island International Film Expo is presented by the Long Island Film/TV Foundation and the Nassau County Film Commission. Among the awards given are Best Director, Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Long Island Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography.

About the company

Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales is a NY Full Service Estate and Tag Sale Company with a solid reputation and happy clients. The owners are members of several professional organizations related to the estate sale industry including The New York Historical Society and The Antiques and Collectibles National Association.

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Huntington Estate Selling Pre-Columbian Artifacts and Prized Albert Carrier Bronzu

Posted on March 29, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Huntington Estate Selling Pre-Columbian Artifacts and Prized Albert Carrier Bronze

Carrier’s Bronze titled Psyche accompanied by coveted antiques and vintage items

Huntington, NY (March 29, 2016) – Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales announces the staging of a collector’s dream estate sale featuring a wide range of coveted items including Pre-Columbian artifacts and listed artist paintings and objects d’ art from renowned artists like Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.

The sale, scheduled for April 9th in Huntington, New York, will offer up artifacts, antiques, various vintage items, and the works of some of the best known paint artists. One of the main items expected to garner much attention is the prized Belleuse Bronze titled “Psyche” by Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. The sale will also feature a wide selection of Pre-Colombian artifacts of interest to collectors of these period pieces, as well as the works of Roy Henry Vickers, Kahlil Gibran, Kurt Larisch, Dale DeArmond, Jose Roybal, and Leonard Baskin. It is scheduled to start at 9 a.m..

“This is one amazing sale you don't want to miss,” says Lucky Rabbit Co-owner, Paul Dunn. “These items come from a well-kept home that’s loaded with objects d' art, Pre-Colombian artifacts, and listed artist paintings. I’m sure that the incredible bronze by Albert Carrier will get a lot of attention from collectors as well as the Pre-Colombian artifacts that will be available,” he adds.

In addition to vintage Inuit art such as paintings and sculptures, other listed items include an antique bronze hand cannon, an African mask collection, Asian artwork, and antique French copper pots and pans. There are also a variety of uncut semiprecious stones, statement jewelry, and American Brilliance Chrystal, as well as Christofle flatware, fine china, unique furniture and vintage walking sticks.

About Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales

Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales is a full service estate and tag sale company which has been featured in the New York Times. The company administers all aspects of estate sales, appraising a wide range of items including antiques, Persian rugs, militaria, china, silver, gold, diamonds, and paintings. They also promote and the sale events. Lucky Rabbit is the only company with social media marketing certification, promoting successful sales to thousands of collectors on several social media platforms.

For further information, contact: Paul Dunn

Tel: 917.207.0619

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.luckyrabbitestatesales.com/

 

June 6, 2015 - Lucky Rabbit to Host Collectibles Sale from the Estate of Legendary Jazz Musician Milt Hinton

Posted on June 6, 2015 at 10:10 PM

June 6, 2015 - Lucky Rabbit to Host Collectibles Sale from the Estate of Legendary Jazz Musician Milt Hinton

 

June 13 sale features hundreds of jazz records and vintage music equipment

 

Queens, NY (June 6, 2015) – Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales announces the staging of a once-in-a-lifetime collectibles sale, featuring items from the estate of legendary jazz musician Milt Hinton and his wife Mona.

 

The sale will be held on Saturday, June 13th, 2015 at 173-05 113th Avenue, Jamaica, Queens beginning at 9:00 am. Collectors will be able to choose from hundreds of jazz records which belonged to the late bass player who enjoyed a long, successful career spanning several decades. The collection includes mid-century modern furniture and furnishings, vintage posters, vintage keyboards, stereo equipment and a guitar which was likely played by the seasoned musician. An antique typewriter collection belonging to Mona Hinton, as well as antique iron and toasters are also on sale, in addition to several small items.

 

“We are pleased to have the distinct honor of representing the estate of Jazz legend Milt Hinton. His stellar career is well known among jazz enthusiasts, in addition to his reputation as an accomplished photographer whose work was highly acclaimed. This sale is a collector’s dream,” says Lucky Rabbit Co-owner, Paul Dunn.

 

Milt “The Judge” Hinton began his jazz career in the 1920's and, in his heyday, was highly regarded as the Dean of jazz bass players. During his career, he performed alongside a long list of legendary jazz artists including Freddie Keppard, Zutty Singleton, Jabbo Smith, Erskine Tate, and Art Tatum. Hinton also featured on numerous recordings with Benny Carter, Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson among others, and toured extensively with Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey and Bing Crosby.

 

Hinton was also well known for his photography and amassed a collection of more than 60,000 images during his lifetime. His work was published in two books as well as major periodicals, and appeared in several documentary films. Milt and Mona Hinton were married for fifty-seven years. He died in 2000.

 

Media contact: Paul Dunn

Tel: (917)-207-0619

Email:[email protected]

Website: http://www.luckyrabbitestatesales.com/

My Entry Essay for Wells Fargo Works Project!

Posted on May 12, 2015 at 7:15 PM

Why I started this bussiness!

Paul J. Dunn


When I decided to start Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales, I was already making a living as a picker attending estate sales. It was not long before I realized that the estate sale companies had no idea about the items they were selling, and this allowed me to buy high quality items for pennies on the dollar.


Naturally, I seized the opportunity to provide a better service liquidating people’s assets and helping them to sell possessions that their loved ones had spent a lifetime collecting, at prices that more accurately reflected the true value. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, the mission at Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales is to provide honest, high quality estate liquidation services, and ensure that clients receive the best value the market has to offer.


At every estate sale, our goal is to ensure that the clients, their homes and possessions are treated with respect, compassion and care. We start off with an initial consultation that is absolutely free, visiting the home to evaluate the contents of the estate. We spend an average of 96 hours researching items, advertising and preparing the sale. Lucky Rabbit supplies and sets up the equipment, transforming the home into a beautiful boutique-like display of the items. We also secure any private areas or items that are not for sale, creating a one way entrance and exit, providing adequate staff as well as a wireless camera system to prevent theft.


It is this level of service and dedication to our clients that earned Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales the Excellence in Estate Sales Award in 2013 and 2014, as well as mentions in several publications. The company has also been featured in the New York Times.


Our biggest challenge today is the seemingly unlimited number of unprofessional estate sale startups with little knowledge of the industry. There are many stories about unethical practices, lack of professionalism, and ignorance of the true value of clients’ possessions. Some companies do not take the time to do any research on the value of the items, ultimately giving them away for a small fraction of the real worth.


This is something about the industry that our company would like to change. Already, Lucky Rabbit is the first of our competitors to use social media effectively and create a YouTube slide show for every sale. We want to extend Lucky Rabbit’s innovative approach and rebuild consumer trust and confidence in the industry. We hope to achieve this by educating clients about ethical practices and proper procedures within the estate liquidation industry.


Over the next five years, we want to expand our network and franchise our business to bring a cohesive and honest approach to the industry. There is space for estate sale professionals who are ethical, knowledgeable and professional to help clients’ maximize the value from their possessions. By demonstrating a high standard of service in our business practices, we hope to encourage honest, ambitious entrepreneurs to join us in our mission to transform the estate liquidation industry.


The prize of $25,000 will help to launch the Lucky Rabbit franchise of estate sale professionals that will provide high quality, honest and ethical estate liquidation services. We would also benefit tremendously from the mentorship, business and legal advice to steer us toward the best options that will attract the right entrepreneurs to partner with and build a successful brand.


To see more of Lucky Rabbit’s work, visit:


http://www.luckyrabbitestatesales.com/apps/videos/videos/show/18822207-calling-all-collectors

 

Managing Estate Sales Becomes Big Business-Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales in the New York Times

Posted on April 13, 2015 at 9:40 PM

 

Managing Estate Sales Becomes Big Business

By ALAN FEUER MARCH 11, 2015



When Gary Berman’s mother died in January, at age 81, leaving behind the two-story house in Forest Hills, Queens, where she had lived for more than 60 years, he and his sister divided the items with sentimental value, then decided they wanted to sell the knickknacks and the big-ticket items, mostly a collection of midcentury modern dining room furniture.

A cardiologist by profession, Dr. Berman, 60, knew what he wanted to get rid of, but had no idea of how to find someone to do it. So he did what all of us do these days: He went on Google and searched until he came across a company called Lucky Rabbit Estate Sales, which happened to be based nearby in Fresh Meadows, Queens.

 

“I literally picked the phone up and said, ‘Can you help me?’ ” Dr. Berman said recently. Lucky Rabbit could and did: Within days of the call, Paul J. Dunn, one of the company’s owners, was consulting with Dr. Berman about how to hire a cleanup crew, how to price a matching buffet-table set and how to protect against theft when the estate sale actually took place.

 

“I didn’t have a clue at first that there were so many things involved,” Dr. Berman said. “It was definitely an education, but even more, it was almost like another form of grieving.”

Liquidating a relative’s estate is one of the most personal ordeals, yet it is becoming increasingly common, people in the industry say. As the population ages, the estate sale business is booming. In many cases, the parents of baby boomers like Dr. Berman are reaching the ends of their lives just as their children are looking to retire and downsize, and both trends benefit the business.

It is impossible to know how many estate liquidation companies operate in the United States or how much their numbers are increasing, because

the industry is unregulated and has no central licensing body. But Julie Hall, the president of the American Society of Estate Liquidators, a trade association, said that there could be 14,000 companies nationwide and that the market was expanding.

“It’s definitely growing at a rapid rate,” Ms. Hall said. She said she received about six inquiries from potential new start-ups every few days, “and the market is already flooded.”

“The competition is fierce, and only the strongest and the best will do exceptionally well,” she said.

Though the business has traditionally found clients among the relatives of those who have died, economic problems have also contributed to the recent spike in sales, Ms. Hall said. That is particularly the case with older people, retired or close to it, who want to sell their possessions to simplify their lives and to make ends meet.

For now, Ms. Hall said, most estate sale companies are mom-and-pop operations that cater to a regional clientele. But in recent years, she added, a handful of successful franchise businesses with wider-than-local ambitions have emerged.

One of those is Blue Moon Estate Sales in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., south of Raleigh. After six years in business, the company, run by a married couple, Ken and Debra Blue, now has five franchises in North Carolina and Texas, and its home office.

 

The Blues — he is a former I.T. specialist and she is a nonpracticing doctor — got into estate sales after buying and selling antiques for nearly 30 years, because they saw that economic and demographic trends would make the industry grow.

“Years ago, people had lots of kids and not very much in the way of possessions, so it was easy to clear up an estate,” Ms. Blue explained. “Now people have fewer kids and a lot more stuff. And since the kids don’t tend to want that stuff, you have more sales.”

Estate sale people like to say that the liquidation business is built upon the four D’s: death, divorce, debt and downsizing. According to AARP, some 8,000 Americans a day will turn 65 for the next two decades or so. Combine that with high divorce rates, the passing of the World War II generation and a mortgage debt-fueled financial crisis that people are still recovering from, and a result is more estate sales.

Estate sale companies typically keep 25 to 50 percent of the proceeds from sales, based on the number of items offered. For that, they handle the staging of the event at a client’s house, including online promotion, hiring workers to conduct the sale, setting prices (usually nonnegotiable) and cleaning up before and after.

If the lot for sale is especially large or valuable, some companies may recommend an auction, although allowing buyers to bid instead of paying a fixed price can be risky, industry people said.

 

The competition among companies is stiff enough, in fact, that many have started to expand their business models to include ancillary services. Caring Transitions of Greater Southeast Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, for example, offers its clients a full range of options: moving company referrals, resettlement assistance and help with how to downsize.

“We take people from the moment that they want to sell, and lead them through packing, space consulting and the clean-out process,” said the company’s co-owner, Paula Houston-Allen. “We want to help them set up easily somewhere else and make sure that their former home is move-in ready.”

Ms. Houston-Allen, a former doctoral candidate in sociology, is perhaps more attuned than many to the industry’s demographic future. She said that she got into estate sales two years ago when she and her husband, the other co-owner, began to notice that people in their 50s and 60s, like themselves, were grappling more and more with their parents dying and leaving behind a life’s worth of possessions.

“Our biggest source of referrals is customers like ourselves,” she said. “We saw these transitions happening in our own life, and in the lives of those around us, and we understood that there was a great need.”

That need has started to extend beyond selling the items in a cluttered old house. As people increasingly live their lives online, companies likeBestBequest.com, a cloud-based safe deposit box, and Afternote.com have sprung up to help them preserve what is being called their “digital legacies” on Facebook, Instagram and other social media networks.

Still, it is physical stuff that is causing concern in the industry. According to Ms. Hall, because of population trends, “a tsunami of personal possessions” is likely to crash into the industry in the next 10 years. Even as the number of liquidation companies continues to grow, she said, the market for what they sell is starting to soften.

“We’re all losing our moms and dads, and their furnishings are flooding the market,” Ms. Hall added. “At the same time, the boomers are casting off their own stuff, and their own children don’t really want it. Generations X and Y want Ikea and Pottery Barn. They don’t want Grandma’s coffee table or china.”

Naturally, there are often disagreements between sellers and sales people over what to charge for certain cherished items, since antique family heirlooms can find little appeal on the open market.

“A lot of people are very suspicious about the estate sale business when it comes to price,” Ms. Houston-Allen said. “They’re emotionally attached to the things they’re trying to sell, and they can’t believe that it’s going so cheaply.”

What tends to sell best these days, Ms. Hall and others said, are not heavy antiques, but sleeker, simpler furnishings.

“There is a massive trend in the buying market toward simplification,” Ms. Hall said. “Armoires, entertainment centers, the giant desks and tables that our grandfathers had — they’re basically obsolete. Why? Because new apartments don’t have space for dining room sets, and the younger generation doesn’t tend to entertain.”

Luckily for Dr. Berman, most of his mother’s things were modern pieces in keeping with the current style. And they ended up selling fairly well, partly because Mr. Dunn of Lucky Rabbit managed to attract about 300 people to the sale, including several professional furniture dealers.

“Paul said, ‘Don’t come, you’ll only get emotional,’ ” Dr. Berman said. But he went anyway, when the sale was almost over. The financial success of the process did not allay the emotional cost of emptying the house where he had grown up.

“When I went in there, it was a little shocking to see the couch, the dining room furniture — everything was gone,” Dr. Berman said. “It was bittersweet, but at least I knew that the belongings had gone on to a new home rather than being on a garbage truck.”

 


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