There are several avenues in which to find an estate sale company including the internet and references from family and friends.
When hiring an estate sale company, ask your friends and families if they have ever used one that they can recommend. When asking this, ask if they hired one or how they know about this certain company. You do not want a recommendation based on a sign that they saw close to their neighborhood. Hire based on facts and personal experience.
Many people use "Google" to find an estate sale company. This is going to bring up many estate sale company's websites directly and this is where they will advertise to you, saying anything to grab your attention. This is an important thing to remember. There are no estate sale companies that are going to say, "we do not stage your home or price all of your items and in fact, we will only come one day to your home, quickly go through the home taking pictures and then come and put a sign in your yard". Again, they are going to say things to grab your attention, like, "We have the most customers at any estate sale in ......". So it is up to you to do your due diligence and Google can help with some other estate sale websites.
There are 5 different estate sale websites that list companies and their sales. You can utilize these websites to find out more about an estate sale company that you are interviewing and whether they are telling you facts or fiction.
The 5 websites are Estatesales.net, estatesales.org, estatesale.com, estatesalesdirectory.com, and megaestatesales.com. Some estate sale companies advertise on one of these and some advertise on at least 2 or 3 of them. There are fees to advertise on each one of them. To advertise on all of them can cost upwards of $500, depending on plans and extra featured advertising. When researching companies, it can be confusing as to what some of the terms are on these industry specific websites and what badges, etc. mean, so clarification will be provided below.
These websites are estate sale marketing websites. The sites list the estate sales for the estate sale companies for a monthly membership fee or flat yearly fee. The estate sale conductors/companies that advertise on here are not vetted in any way. One company could be running as a business with a business license, W-2 employees, liability insurance, and worker's compensation insurance, and the next company could be one person using day laborers as workers with no insurance and no legal articles of incorporation or organization.
Estatesales.net, started in 2002 with a few companies, had a huge growth in 2008, bringing in hundreds of estate sale companies. Most companies advertise on this website. Estatesales.net will list the year that the company started marketing on this website, which can be helpful in determining how long a company has been in business, since most companies advertise their sales on here.
Once on this website, you will notice off to the right is a badge for Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Do not confuse these with how good the company is or is not. This is only determined based on how much the estate sale company pays to estatesales.net. The more you pay, the higher you are, with Gold, being the top category. Among the categories, estatesales.net constantly rotates the companies to make it fair for new companies just starting out with no experience. A company who has had no previous estate sales can pay for a gold membership and be at the top of the list. This can be confusing for consumers.
If you are looking for a company that who has been in business for more than 5 years, you will have to scroll down and look for the year under the company name or on a PC only, you can click "Customize" your search on the right hand side of the screen (see pic below). Input your zip code, the distance to look for estate sale companies (most only travel within 50 or less mileage), and click "Member Since" and this will bring up companies with the most experience. This is an example of what it will look like once you hit "Customize": (Unfortunately, this can only be done from a PC)
Once you click on a company, you will see information written by that individual company. All info and all photos are provided by that estate sale company only. The disclaimer is attached below:
The website does not write for the estate sale companies or verify any information ("EstateSales.NET makes no representation or warranty of any kind whatsoever as to the accuracy, truthfulness, usefulness, timeliness nor completeness of any of the content herein or accessible hereby in whole or in part...any such information, data, news or other information accessible or made available through this Site may contain errors, defects or be unreliable, and EstateSales.NET makes no effort to review, check or verify any news, data, or other information accessible or made available through this Site. EstateSales.NET assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, truthfulness or usefulness of the data.")
While looking on a company's page, you will notice that off to the right, it will have the "Gold, Silver, or Bronze" badge based on payment and it will also have additional badges based on memberships in organizations. Unfortunately, none of these are verified, so someone that has all organizations listed, might not be a member of any of them. This is where your due diligence comes in. Check the memberships yourselves.There are many companies listing themselves as members of appraisal organizations that are not appraisers. The appraisal associations have began listing individuals that are falsely representing their organizations on their websites.
Estatesales.org, started in 2009, lists the companies length of time in business, which is put in by the company, so it can be exaggerated, however it lists the number of sales that they have posted on their site. This will help on in determining how long a company has been doing sales by how many they have done. This website also has badges based on membership costs. Elite is the highest, with platinum, gold and silver underneath. A huge plus of estatesales.org is that once you click onto a company, you can see their past sales, therefore you can see what their staging, set up, marketing, and photography looks like for their sales. This should be the one of the biggest parts of your due diligence, to look at a company's marketing.
Estatesale.com, which took off in 2012, also lists companies past sales, therefore you can see what an estate sale companies past sales look like, as well as how many that they have listed on here. Awards, based on consumer views are given out annually by estatesale.com. The estate sale company that has the most consumer views across the US will win an award. There is an award for the top 50 companies in the US and the top estate sale company in each state.
Estatesalesdirectory.com, lists estate sales for companies throughout the US. They concentrate on helping consumers and companies alike, but following the industry and frequently write articles to help consumers.
Megaestatesales.com, lists estate sales for companies as well as list estate sale companies throughout the US. Awarded annually by Megaestatesales.com is the "Excellence in Marketing" award. The award is based on votes for the company that provides the best in marketing.
Companies are receiving more and more calls about families that have been taken advantage of and with a fair amount of research and due diligence, you will be able to hire a company that will be the best for you.