Estate sale companies can take a big chunk of your profits

PHOENIX - As your relatives get older, at some point you may have help them downsize--which could mean selling some of their things.

Estate sale companies can provide grieving families a chance to remove themselves from that process and handle the sale from beginning to end.

But you have to choose the company carefully, because not all estate sellers put your interests first.

Brian Haglage turned to a local estate seller when his mom passed away.

"I then had the task of selling the house which was the only smart thing to do. I had no funds for any of the storage, or selling it myself," he said.
        
But after the company sold his mom's furniture, clothing, and collectibles, Brian was stunned: he received a check for just over $1,500.

"I felt cheated, I felt ripped off. I felt like I made a grave mistake with my parent's legacy."

Brian couldn't believe his mother's lifetime of possessions was worth just $3,000.

To make matters worse, Brian says their contract dictated that the company was entitled to keep half.

"I feel like I could have done better going to the pawn store, the pawn shop, something like that," he said.

For a pocket watch he got $5.
        
A beautiful grandfather clock: not even $200.

"The grandfather clock was kind of sentimental, hard for me to let go. Coming back at $180, seeing that really took it out of me."

The owner of the estate selling company says the furniture was outdated and did not bring in much, despite an online auction lasting several months.
       
Brian disagrees, and offers advice for others in mourning.

"Take your time, don't rush if you can. Definitely explore a lot of options."

One option is to set minimum prices so you don't get less than you were anticipating.

And as I advise before hiring anyone for anything, check out a few businesses before settling.

Run their name online for complaints.

Check websites like Ripoffreport.com , the Better Business Bureau and do a general search.

E-mail me joe@abc15.com   with any consumer problem you have or "like" my Let Joe Know Facebook page   and tell me about it there.

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