How to Start an Estate Sale Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you have a knack for organizing, pricing, and selling other people’s belongings, consider starting an estate sale business.

An estate sale is a type of liquidation sale conducted when someone needs to dispose of their personal property, usually due to death, divorce, downsizing, or relocation. Unlike a garage sale or an auction, an estate sale typically involves selling the entire contents of a home, from furniture and appliances to jewelry and collectibles.

Estate sales offer a potentially profitable and fulfilling avenue for individuals inclined toward antiques, collectibles, and historical artifacts. However, they also require a lot of planning, research, marketing, and customer service skills.

Running an estate sale business can be rewarding and profitable but also comes with challenges and responsibilities.

How to Start an Estate Sale Business

To successfully start your estate sale business, you must adopt and apply the following procedures:

Gain Experience and Knowledge

Before you launch your own estate sale business, you should gain some experience and knowledge in the industry. You can do this by:

Working for an established estate sale company as an employee or contractor. It will help you learn the ropes of pricing, staging, advertising, and running an estate sale. You will also build connections with potential clients and customers.

Attending as many estate sales as possible in your area. It will help you observe how different companies operate, what kinds of items sell well, and what customers are looking for. You will also get a sense of your area’s market demand and competition.

Researching online about estate sale best practices, trends, and tips. Numerous online resources can aid you in expanding your knowledge of the estate sale industry, including blogs, podcasts, books, and courses.

Choose a Business Name and Structure

Once you have gained some experience and knowledge in the industry, you need to choose a name and a legal structure for your estate sale business. Your title should be catchy, memorable, and relevant to your niche. You can use online tools like name generators or domain checkers to help you develop ideas.

Your legal structure will affect your taxes, liability, and paperwork. Partnership, limited liability company (LLC), Sole proprietorship, and corporation are the primary options often considered for estate sale businesses. You should consult a lawyer or accountant to help you decide which is best for your situation.

Register Your Business and Obtain Licenses and Permits

After you have chosen a name and a legal structure for your estate sale business, you need to register it with the appropriate authorities. Depending on your location, you may need to register with your state, county, or city government. If you intend to hire employees, you might also be required to secure an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS.

Additionally, you may need to obtain various licenses and permits to legally operate your estate sale business. These may include:

  • A general business license from your local government
  • A sales tax permit from your state department of revenue
  • A resale certificate from your state Department of Revenue
  • A zoning permit from your local planning department
  • A special event permit from your local government
  • A fire safety permit from your local fire department

The prerequisites and charges for these licenses and permits can differ based on your location and the nature of the estate sale you are conducting. You should check with your local authorities before you start your business.

Set Up Your Business Finances and Insurance

Another vital step in starting an estate sale business is setting up your business finances and insurance. Here are the things to do:

  • Open a separate bank account for your business transactions
  • Create a budget and a bookkeeping system for your income and expenses
  • Complete the registration process for your business and acquire the necessary licenses and permits.
  • Also, receive a general liability insurance policy to safeguard against lawsuits or damages.
  • Obtain a professional liability insurance policy to protect yourself from claims of negligence or errors
  • Obtain a property insurance policy to protect your equipment and inventory
  • Secure a workers’ compensation insurance policy if you have employees on your staff.
  • Contact a financial advisor or an insurance agent for expert assistance in determining the most suitable options for your business.

Market Your Estate Sale Business

The final step in starting an estate sale business is marketing it to potential clients and customers. You will need to:

  • Develop a polished website for your business that highlights your services, portfolio, client testimonials, and contact details in a professional manner.
  • Optimize your website for search engines using real estate SEO techniques.
  • Establish social media profiles for your business across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  • Post regular content on your website and social media accounts that provides value to your audience, such as tips, trends, stories, or photos of your past or upcoming sales.
  • Advertise your business on online platforms like [EstateSales.NET], [], [AuctionZip], or [Craigslist]
  • Network with other estate sale professionals, real estate agents, attorneys, appraisers, and collectors in your area
  • Ask for referrals and reviews from your satisfied clients and customers.

You can start and grow a successful estate sale business that helps people find new homes for their cherished belongings.

How do I research, price, and display the items for sale?

Researching, pricing, and displaying the items for sale are crucial to ensure a successful and profitable estate sale. Some of the tips to research, price, and display the items for sale are:


Before you price the items for sale, you must research their history, condition, rarity, and market value. Use online resources such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or Kovels to compare similar items and see how much they are selling for.

You can also consult books, magazines, catalogs, or experts to learn more about things and their characteristics. You should also inspect the items for any damage, defects, or markings that might affect their value.


Once you have priced the items for sale, you need to display them in an appealing and organized way. You should arrange the items by category, such as furniture, clothing, books, or kitchenware. You should also group the items by price, such as $1, $5, or $10. You should use tables, shelves, racks, or boxes to display the items and make them easy to see and reach.

You should also create focal points or highlights to showcase the most valuable or exciting things. You should also add signs or banners to attract attention and inform buyers about the sale.

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How do I handle the logistics, security, and customer service during the sale?

estate sale business

Handling the logistics, security, and customer service during the sale are essential steps to ensure a smooth and safe estate sale. Some of the tips for taking the logistics, safety, and customer service during the sale are:


Before the sale, you must prepare the location and the items for the sale. You must obtain any necessary permits, licenses, or insurance for the sale. You need to clean and organize the location and the items and remove any personal or private entities that are not for sale. You need to set up a cashier area where you can collect payments and issue receipts. You must have enough change, bags, boxes, and wrapping materials for the buyers. You also need a plan for handling deliveries, pickups, or returns of the items.


During the sale, you must protect the location and the items from theft, damage, or vandalism. You need enough staff or volunteers to monitor and assist the buyers. You need to limit the number of buyers who can enter at a time and check their bags or coats at the door. You need to lock or secure any doors, windows, cabinets, or drawers not part of the sale. You also need to have a security system or a camera in place to deter or record any suspicious activity.

Customer service

During the sale, you must provide excellent customer service to the buyers. You must greet and welcome them with a smile and a friendly attitude. You need to answer their questions and provide them with information about the items. You need to be flexible and willing to negotiate with them on prices or terms. You must also thank them for their purchase and invite them to future sales.

How do I dispose of the unsold items after the sale?

Cleaning up and disposing of unsold items after the sale are essential steps to complete an estate sale. Some of the tips to clean up and dispose of the unsold items after the sale are:


One of the best ways to dispose of unsold items is to donate them to a charity, a thrift store, or a community organization. You can choose a cause that you or your client support or related to the items you have. You also have the option to request a donation receipt, which can be helpful for tax-related purposes.


Another way to dispose of the unsold items is to sell them to a consignment store, an online marketplace, or a local buyer. Choose a page that aligns with your requirements and preferences while providing reasonable pricing for your items. You can also negotiate the terms and conditions of the sale and the delivery or pickup of the items.


Another way to dispose of unsold items is to recycle or repurpose them into something new. You can separate the items into different categories, such as paper, plastic, metal, or glass, and take them to a recycling center or a drop-off location. You can also use your creativity and skills to transform the items into something functional or decorative, such as art, crafts, or furniture.


The last resort to dispose of unsold items is to trash them or take them to a landfill. You should only do this if the things are broken, damaged, or hazardous and cannot be donated, sold, or recycled. You should also follow the local regulations and guidelines on how to dispose of the items correctly and safely.

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Starting an estate sale business can be rewarding and profitable if you have the passion, skills, and knowledge. Achieving success also demands substantial planning, meticulous preparation, and dedicated effort.

By following the tips and resources we have provided in this guide, you can learn how to start an estate sale business and overcome the challenges you might face along the way. We hope that you have found this blog post helpful and informative. 

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