Fake Estate Sales Exposed

Most estate sales are run by reputable folks who are on the up and up and wouldn’t dream of defrauding an unsuspecting shopper. Unfortunately, there are a small percentage of tag sales that are less than trustworthy.

There are plenty of tales of events that advertise to the public promising all sorts of objects like Baccarat crystal or Mont Blank pens for sale, and then when the unsuspecting folks arrive looking for these collectible trinkets–they are not there or are claimed to be sold. These bait-and-switch events attempt to lure crowds in to try to make a sale on mediocre goods that don’t actually exist.

In other in instances, tag sales are advertised in the newspaper as the estate of 90 year old granny with a lifetime of goodies in the attic. When you get there, you realize that it’s no such thing and they are selling junky goods.

Another downer in terms of phony estate sales, are sellers trying to pass off bogus items for the real deal. If you see a too good to be true price on a supposed Tiffany lamp, you can pretty well be sure it’s a counterfeit. Antique furniture is another place where scams run large because most buyers don’t know what they are looking for to ensure its authenticity. You can be sure that older furniture wasn’t put together with glue, staples, particle board or shiny screws. It’s important to educate yourself on the construction of furniture through time so you can attempt to determine real value.

Designer items such as hand bags, wrist watches and jewelry are unfortunately something that are commonly fakes at estate sales, so beware. A lot of time the seller is unsuspecting and doesn’t realize it herself. Be sure to ask for a certificate of authenticity or a receipt whenever possible to confirm that a designer item is authentic.

Art is also something that can notoriously be forged, so take care when buying it at an estate sale. Unless the claim is backed by some authoritative proof to show evidence that the painting truly is Great Uncle Frank’s Jackson Pollack painting, you better be ready to bring a professional along with you to validate the piece for you. In some instances, you can buy the piece with the ability to return it if it is discovered to not be what it has been advertised.

If you want to avoid being scammed, go to estate sales run by highly regarded estate sales liquidators who have insurance and are bonded to protect their business. You can check the Better Business Bureau or references to ensure the sales company is on the up and up. When attending an estate sale run by the family, things certainly get trickier and you open yourself up a bit more for the opportunity for fraud. Remember, if your gut tells you something doesn’t exactly feel right, then it’s probably a good time to walk away before spending your hard earned cash.

If you are a collector of a particular item such as vintage glass, jewelry or art, then make it your business to educate yourself so that you can spot fakes quickly or bring an experienced friend with you to help you out. Don’t just buy an estate sale without checking carefully that the item is truly what it is!

5 Estate Sales Mistakes to Avoid

When holding an estate sale and going through a professional firm there are several things you want to avoid so that things go as smoothly as possible. Organizing an event can be pretty overwhelming so if possible you will want to seek out help from an estate sale liquidation company to help make things a lot easier. Most estate sale companies are used to handling estates that are valued at tens of thousands of dollars, but that does not always mean that the companies are reputable, so you will want to check your sources and weed out the untrustworthy ones.

Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid when hiring a company to run your sale:

  1. Make sure to research the company before you agree to sign a contract and try to find out how long the company has been providing its services. Knowing whether its employees are members of professional associations, have specialized credentials or are just regular people with no background in estate sales is important as well. Unfortunately scams will arise and knowing exactly who you are doing business with will help prevent any rip-off from happening. If you are not comfortable with the employees of the company, then do not hesitate to contact a different company instead. Failing to properly review the estate sale company can be costly and is a mistake made far too often.
  2. Always compare rates and fees of professional companies and make sure they are clear and you fully understand them. There could be additional fees for security, moving expenses, trash removal, advertising, cleaning and other related estate sale expenses. The company will already take a percent of the total amount gained from the sale, so you do not want to get hit with any unexpected fees that you were initially not aware of. Commissions and fees should be requested by you beforehand and compared to other companies so that you get the best deal possible. A lot of people do not make as much money as they can because they make this blunder.
  3. Do not make the slip-up of removing items from the home after you hire a professional company, because the company could charge you for any loss of commission. So if there is anything in the home that you want to exclude from the sale, let the company know ahead of time so that things do not get mixed up.
  4. If you want to clean up before the big estate sale and toss any items you believe to be junk, go ahead, but make sure you are certain these objects in fact have no value. That old piece of dusty pottery or seemingly ugly vintage lamp could be rare and actually worth thousands of dollars.
  5. Lastly, do not make the error of not hiring a professional estate sales company. If you do not know what you are doing and cannot properly research the value of certain items then you are almost certain to lose out on a lot of money. An estate sales liquidation company can assess the value of all of the items for sale in the home, clean up after the event and oversee all of the transactions. Some companies will even offer a lump-sum payment for items that are left unsold. Despite paying a commission, you often end up making more using an estate sale company instead of going it alone.