Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  Why should  I have a professionally conducted estate sale rather than a garage sale or family-run sale? 

A:  First, it’s an incredibly difficult task for non-professionals to get things together, let alone run a sale as it should be run.  Not only is the work itself grueling, but you also have to factor in sentimentality, time, difficult family dynamics etc. As one would expect, most laymen (and this includes attorneys, CPA’s, trustees, etc.) have absolutely no idea what items are worth in the secondary market. Laymen attempting to conduct their own sales, we have found, either vastly over-price else ridiculously under-price the vast majority of their household possessions. We, on the other hand, come into your home or place of business and price merchandise for sale at a fair market value. We market the items via this website, newspaper ads, word of mouth and online ads, and we display everything in a way that will net you the most money possible. Remember, too, that there’s greater perceived value when a professional estate firm conducts an estate sale. Customers who come through a sale conducted by Sterling Estate Sales see carefully considered staging with traffic patterns in mind,  tables filled with high end merchandise, professional signage and price tags alike & helpful staff members. Finally, bear in mind that, if your home is for sale, estate sales can bring from one hundred to one thousand  +people through your home over any given weekend. (The exposure granted by our estate sales has helped sell many a property for local realtors this way over the years.)  Ask yourself this question:  ”Why should I pass up free marketing?” 

Q: But I don’t live in the Las Vegas Valley. Can you help me? 

A: Without a doubt!  We travel all over the state as needed and we’d gladly travel even farther for the right sale.) Please be advised, though, that our threshold for out of town sales is considerably higher than the one we require in the Las Vegas Valley metro area. (Out of town sales require considerably large advertising budgets, travel expenses, and more. In other words, we likely cannot help you with sales outside the metro area that we estimate will gross less than $50K.) All that said, even when we can’t help you with out of the metro area sales, we won’t “leave you hanging.” We’ll work with you to find someone who CAN help you. (In this regard, our extensive contacts often prove invaluable. 

Q: How exactly does an estate sale work? How does it differ from an auction? 

A: Estate sales (also known as “tag sales” in some parts of the United States and Canada) are orderly liquidations run much as a retail shop would be run. That is to say, every item has a price tag. (In other words, the liquidator determines the price. In an auction setting, though, the bidders determine the price.) Estate sales are vastly different from auctions in that customers need not wait hours for one item or another to “come up on the block.”  Also, with an estate sale, the estate itself is not at the mercy of an often uncomfortable customer base that dwindles down as the day goes by. Offers may be placed on appreciable higher priced items at our sales. Our sales are, beautifully staged, professionally organized, and extensively advertised. The public is invited into the home and allowed to shop at leisure. Clerks are available to write customers’ tickets and answer their questions. Cashiers are stationed (usually near the entrance/exit) to “cash out” customers.  

Q: Do I even have enough for you to conduct an estate sale? I don’t really have fine art, great antiques or lots of expensive things. 

A: You’d be amazed at just how well even an average estate can and does sell when offered to the public in one of our orderly liquidation sales. We liquidate entire estates that aren’t filled to overflowing with 18th century furniture, period silver, rare automobiles, fine jewelry and the like. Ultimately, it’s the estimated sales gross that determines whether or not we take the sale or refer it to a smaller company. We sell furniture of all types, clothing, general residential contents, portable buildings, cars, stereo equipment, tools, firearms, motorcycles, farm equipment, musical instruments . . . well, actually, a little bit of everything! Call or e-mail us to schedule a complimentary consultation in which we can advise you how to best liquidate your estate. 

Q: What should I do to get ready for a sale? 

A: First, get all your legal “ducks in a row.”  If there has been a death in the family, make sure that you have legal title and full authority to sell.  Make certain, too, that all disbursements have been made to any and all heirs before you call us for a consultation. If there’s a divorce or bankruptcy liquidation afoot, make sure that you talk to legal counsel before calling us.  (Remember, by the way, that any liens or other encumbrances are solely your responsibility.) Second, please step away from the dumpster and the thrift shop box — PLEASE.  (You’d be horrified to learn what some former clients have, in their zeal, thrown or given away before speaking to us!) Third, show us any and all items you do not want us to sell before we sign a contract, as 

a) we base our commissions upon what we estimate the gross sales to be and 

b) items taken after the signing of the contract are subject to full commission. Fourth, please remember that professional estate liquidators generally won’t work with clients who are still living in the home. (It’s simply too taxing for both parties, and requires us to be in your living space while you’re in our working space. If you’re still living in the venue and unable or unwilling to afford a hotel for a couple of weeks, then it’s likely that we won’t be a good fit for one another.) If you still reside in the sale venue itself, you’ll need to remove all of your personal items to storage and then vacate the premises for a minimum of two weeks. (Talk to us about the specific amount of time needed to prepare your sale.) 

Q:  How much do you charge to look at an estate? 

A:  Our initial consultations are always free of charge.  Should we determine that an estate sale is not your best option, we’ll be glad to provide you with a set of plausible alternatives during this complimentary consultation. Please remember, though, that we usually book our sales anywhere from two to six months in advance. 

Q:  How is your company paid for its services? 

A:  We operate on a flat, all inclusive commission that’s based upon the total gross sales.Sometimes, the estate may want additional advertisements or security above and beyond what we deem necessary, but this, again, is rare.) Remember that, because we operate on a percentage-based commission, we are doubly motivated to get you the most money possible for your household possessions. Commission can range from 25% to 50% of the gross sales depending upon 

a) the estimated final gross of the sale and 

b) the amount of labor to be expended. 

Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and farm implements usually run 10%, but we may occasionally pare that commission down to 5% if the vehicle is a late model with very low mileage. After the close of your sale and liquidation of any remaining items ie: Liquidator/Charity and there is any fee's for clean-out or clean up this is subtracted from your percentage at which point you can expect a written check from us within twenty-four hours— there’s no need for us to hold your funds. We are a company with integrity and don't have any hidden costs. 

Q: Do you have any special requirements of the estate itself before taking a sale? 

A: Actually, yes, but only a few. If you are the representative of an estate, we will need to have a photocopy of the necessary legal documents which authorize you to dispose of the contents. We also require that the homeowner’s insurance on the home itself be current and in place throughout the sale process. The estate itself is responsible for disconnecting from gas or water any appliances which are to be sold. The furnace and air conditioner must be in working order before we begin work, and the water, gas and electricity must be turned on and kept on throughout the sale process. (No need for a phone line, though, as we run credit card sales through a cellular phone app.) 

Q:  Shouldn’t I wait until my home has sold before I have you conduct my sale? 

A:  Some real estate agents may disagree with us on this issue, but we answer this question with a resounding “No!” You see, selling a home and then contracting with an estate liquidator can — and most often does — paint the liquidator into a corner, so to speak. We want to do your sale justice, and we need adequate time in which to do this.  Please try to coordinate the sale of your real estate with the sale of your household possessions, as (again) an estate sale can bring thousands of potential buyers into your home. (By the way, we gladly work with realtors to co-market the properties themselves.) 

Q:  The executor/executrix lives out of state.  Can we still proceed with a liquidation? 

A:  Absolutely.  We often work for out of state heirs, executors/executrixes, trustees etc.  All necessary arrangements can, if necessary, be handled via telephone calls, faxes and e-mails. 

Q:  How long will it take you to coordinate my sale? 

A:  We usually book our sales anywhere from two to six months in advance. (Remember: we only have about forty-eight “working” weekends out of fifty-two or so in any given calendar year, and so must schedule our sales with that in mind.) Once we begin the work itself, the average estate requires two to three weeks’ worth of prep time.  Occasionally, we may coordinate a sale in less time. Rarely, a sale may require more time or less time. 

Q: How long should I expect my sale to run? 

A: Each sale is unique; however, suffice it to say that approximately 95% of our sales are two-day sales. From time to time (perhaps once a year), we may encounter a small sale that only merits one long day, or (even more rarely) an extremely full sale that merits three days. For all intents and purposes, though, you can probably count on a two-day sale. We conduct sales on Fridays 

& Saturdays & possibly Sundays depending on area and if it would conflict with a major holiday or sporting event.

Q: What do you do with items that don’t sell? 

A:  Naturally, we strive to sell the contents of an estate “wall to wall”, but there are always some things left over in each estate. On the off chance that items of appreciable value are left unsold, we can and will gladly broker some of your items for you.  (Sometimes in certain areas where permitted) we help you sell them through an out-of-state auction house; sometimes we direct you to local buyers; we also use a few local “buy out” services (where permitted).) Occasionally, the family or trustee chooses not to use a charity at all. For all intents and purposes, in any case, it’s little more than common and miscellaneous household “stuff” and perhaps a few small pieces of furniture that one finds unsold at the end of an average sale. We use four local default charities for our (If the client requests another charity or charities, we’ll be glad to do whatever we can to facilitate matters.) All of our default charities are locally based; all have full 501(c)3 status; all can and will give you tax deduction receipts for your donations.  We always encourage our clients to walk through an estate after the sale but before the charities arrive, thus giving them (our clients) the opportunity to decide if there’s anything that they don’t want to go to charity.  (Again, sometimes the family decides to keep everything and let nothing go to charity.  That’s fine, too — it’s still their property to do with as they wish.) In any case, our clients are always welcome to be on site during the charity pick-up itself.

Q:  What do you do to deter theft during the sale? 

A:  We limit access to one entrance/exit.  If there’s an attached garage or breezeway, it’s kept separate from the main house itself and manned by one or two employees. Furthermore, our staff is well trained in watching for “sticky fingers.” We don’t allow drink cups in our sale venues, and we strongly discourage baby strollers in the same.  (These are often used as ploys by professional shoplifters, believe it or not.) Should someone buy handbags or luggage, we’re careful to check each piece before it leaves the door. Handguns, some knives, precious metals and stones, coins, some vintage toys, dolls, and stamps, all valuable objets d’art, precious gemstones etc. are kept in locked, lighted showcases. We only allow one piece to be shown at any given time, and nothing leaves our showcase(s) until paid for. 

Q:  Do you sell automobiles and motorcycles? 

A:  Absolutely!  We find that cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles all draw large numbers of new and different customers.  (By the way, as a general rule, we charge a considerably reduced commission on most automobiles and motorcycles.) We also sell farm implements of all kinds, including tractors and tractor attachments, as well as combines, working chutes, feeders, and other large farm items. 

Q:  May I be present for the sale itself? A:  We find that many clients may get emotional when they’re on site during their own estate sales. (It’s hard to see things leave your home. We understand that.) That said, you may want to drop by and see how things are progressing, and see the size of the huge crowds our marketing draws. This is perfectly acceptable to us so long as you don’t hinder business while you’re on site. If you hinder business while we’re trying to make you money, then we’ll politely ask you to leave so that we can do what we do best — MAKE YOU MONEY. Just remember that we’re here to make you the most money possible, and that your estate sale won’t be a social club, nor will it be a coffee klatch around your kitchen table. (It’ll be a place of business. Don’t forget that.) 

Q:  What about sales taxes? 

A:  The charging of state sales tax IS required on all purchases at Estate sales in the Las Vegas Valley — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And yes, we fully comply with Nevada state law in the collection and remission of all sales taxes. We’re responsible for the collecting and remission of all applicable sales taxes. (We strongly caution our clients against working with any purported Estate Sale Company who doesn’t issue or OFFER to give a cash register receipt for each and every purchase made. We offer EVERY paying customer a receipt of which our Cash Register keeps a running total of all purchases for every day of every sale. Our sale receipts are available for audit/review by the Internal Revenue Service, the Nevada Tax Commission, and our clients for seven fiscal years after the close of each sale.) All sales taxes collected are remitted under our tax/site number to the Nevada  Tax in a prompt and orderly fashion once a month. All sales tax exemption permits are collected at the cash register, stapled to their respective tickets, and kept by Sterling Estate Sales LLC for seven fiscal years after the close of each sale. 

Q: Do you clean the home after a sale? 

A: We strive to pick up large debris and leave the home “broom clean.” Bear in mind that ours is a professional estate sale company, though, not a housekeeping service. If you’d like the home to be immaculate and ready to put on the market, we’ll be happy to refer you to a professional housekeeper whom we recommend.

Sterling Estate Sales

(702) 546-1234