17 Bryan McDaniel — Accountability and Transparency When Dealing with Personal Property


On our seventeenth episode of #ProbateNavigated we stop by to visit with Bryan McDaniel.

Bryan McDaniel is the founder and owner of EzDownsizing. He is a retired Marine with 23 years of active duty. Bryan’s vision was to create and develop a professional, processes-driven company capable of meeting the needs of all customers, regardless of their situation. ezDownsizing.com is that company


1. SHOP AROUND. Interview more than one, and preferably several companies. Do not fall in love with the first individual who comes to your home for a consultation and wants you to sign a contract. A good estate sale representative should encourage you to speak with other companies and choose the one that best fits your needs.

2. GET A CONTRACT TO REVIEW BEFORE THEY ARRIVE. Ask the estate sale company representative to send you a copy of their contract (email) BEFORE the consultation. If that is against their policy — find a different company. Review the contract and have other ‘stake-holders’ review the contract so you can prepare questions related to the contract during the consultation.

3. HAVE AN IDENTICAL LIST OF PREPARED QUESTIONS TO ASK. Some ideas of questions to ask include:

  • What is your commission? Are there additional fees included? Do you have a minimum fee? (Keep in mind that just because an estate sale company charges a higher commission, does not mean you will receive less money. Ask the estate sale company for an estimate of the total value of the estate? If they are experienced, they should be able to tell you within a few thousand dollars how much value is in the residence.)

  • May I have list of your RECENT referrals (last six months)?

  • Are you licensed, bonded & insured? Is that information available on your contract?

  • May I put reserve prices on certain items? (If you have items of significant value, you’d like a specific amount for — let the estate sale company know. Additionally, do not be apprehensive about asking for reduced commissions on high-dollar items. Estate sale companies would prefer to have the car or motorcycle or Aunt Katherine’s diamond ring in the sale and sell it at a reduced commission rather than not have it in the sale at all.)

  • Do you sell items early, prior to the posted sale date?

  • How many days will the sale run?

  • Do you have a shop or store location? What is the address at which you can be reached? (Ensure the company provides an address, and not just a P.O. Box. If they are licensed — they have a physical address).

  • May I stop by during the sale? (Many estate sale companies prefer owners not be present during the sale, which is common. NO estate sale company should prohibit owners from stopping by briefly to witness how the sale is being conducted. In fact, they should encourage it so you can have peace of mind your sale is being run professionally, and in turn be able to comfortably leave them a good referral based on the conduct of the sale.)

  • Do you allow employees to purchase items from the sale?

  • Do you have certified appraisers on staff? What is their experience and with whom are they certified?

  • Do you charge sales tax? (Licensed businesses are required to charge sales tax).

  • Do you accept payments by credit cards or checks? (If a company is reluctant to incur any type of electronic funds tracking, it may be a red flag.)

  • What type of sales details are provided upon completion of the sale? Do I get an itemized list of what sold and for how much, or just a check of the total sale, less commissions and fees?

  • What happens to the items that do not sell?

  • Do you offer a clean-out service?

  • How long after the sale until I receive payment?

4. UNSOLD ITEMS. There are always items remaining after the last day of an estate sale. The reason for unsold items varies from the items simply being undesirable, they are difficult to remove/relocate (such as a piano), or because they were not priced correctly, or they were not appropriately reduced during the course of the sale. If items of significant value remain at the conclusion of the sale what becomes of them? Be sure to ask the estate sale company up front about what happens to the valuable items that do not sell?

5. CLEAN-OUT SERVICES. Many estate sale companies offer a clean-out service for an added fee of anywhere from $1000.00 to several thousand depending on the quantity of items to be removed. Clean-outs include the removal of everything remaining, usually leaving the residence broom clean. Items that are useful should be donated, and the owner provided with a donation receipt. Items that have value should be taken to auction with you, the owner, the recipient of proceeds generated. Items of no value should be recycled or discarded as appropriate. Be wary of estate sale companies offering cleanout services and ‘donating’ or disposing of everything that is unsold at the conclusion of an estate sale.

6. ONLINE AUCTION ESTATE SALE SERVICES. ezDownsizing.com offers online estate sale services which provide complete and transparent sales of the entire residence. All items to be sold are photographed, cataloged and listed for online auction. Potential buyers bid on the items they are interested in purchasing online (much like eBay) and successful high bidders are provided a scheduled time to pick-up and remove the items they’ve won. The benefits of an online auction over a traditional estate sale include:

  • 100% accountability of all items sold. Sellers may view the auction before, during and after to review what is being sold, what the activity looks like and eventually the price realized at the close of the auction.

  • Fair pricing. Hundreds and even of thousands of buyers compete to purchase items rather than items being sold to the first person through the door.

  • Loss prevention. Reduces the opportunity for loss due to damage or theft.

  • Less traffic in the home. Preserves the property (residence), by restricting access to only individuals who have purchased items.

  • Low-key. Eliminates the need to conduct a multi-day estate sale and arouse unwanted attention, neighborhood traffic congestion, and ‘lookie-loos’ from wandering inside the residence.

  • Most everything sells. Unlike traditional estate sales that leave ‘money on the table’ — online auctions are efficient and effective, typically selling 99% of the items offered for sale.

  • Broadens market by offering convenient online bidding. Bidders may bid from their computer or mobile device from the convenience of their home.

  • Too far away to attend a traditional estate sale? No problem! Online bidding removes the distance barrier. Local bidders do not have to drive 20 miles to find out the item they were interested in purchasing had already sold. Bidders living in other states or countries may bid on items and have them shipped to them at their expense.

  • Levels the playing field. “In order to get a great deal at an estate sale you can’t be early — you have to be FIRST!” Online auction estate sales level the playing field for everyone, and do not penalize or alienate those unwilling to get up early and get their name on the ‘sign-up sheet’ the first day of the sale.

  • Peace of mind for Estate Administrator (fiduciary, executor, etc.). Estate administrators take on the moral and legal responsibility of protecting the assets of an estate and making fair distributions of property. Online auctions offer a transparent process for stakeholders to have an opportunity to witness the liquidation process, relieving the estate administrator of the responsibility of accounting for what sold and for how much. Online auctions also provide a fair means for family and friends to purchase items of either a sentimental or material value that the administrator is unable or unwilling to distribute to them directly.

You can connect with Bryan below:

P |571–393–1243

E | info@ezdownsizing.com

W | https://www.ezdownsizing.com/

Want to connect with me? Simply reach out on any of the social media platforms below:

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DISCLAIMER: This site is not meant to be a resource for legal or tax advice, but instead for basic information concerning various aspects of estate administration. Therefore, we recommend getting legal or tax advice from your accountant or attorney who can provide relevant counsel for your particular case.