Drive through Preston Hollow or the Park Cities any weekend and you are likely to stumble upon an estate sale, but you may not know what goes into the process behind the scenes.
A garage sale might be run by a homeowner looking to get rid of some things and make a few dollars, but an estate sales involve liquidating the entire contents of a house. This can require a specialist’s help.
Many owners brings in property liquidators to oversee the entire process, from organizing the event to staging the contents and pricing them based on their research and expertise. These professionals earn commission on the sales. When the sale is over, the property liquidators will make sure the house is empty and clean so it is ready for the next tenant or the open market.
“There’s really no book or manual to it. You have to wear a lot of hats,” said Brian Hooks, co-owner of Help Me Ronda Estate Sales. He and his wife Ronda have been in the estate sale business more than 20 years, and have seen a little of everything.
“We had one a couple of weeks ago that had everything from deer heads and bear skin rugs to a tanning bed and a Segway,” Hooks said. “We had to take people up a private elevator to show them a collection of machine guns.”
According to Hooks, the key to hosting a successful estate sale is having a thorough walkthrough in the beginning and giving the client a realistic expectation.
“People don’t always know what they have,” Hooks said. “All the little stuff adds up.”
Ruth Taylor, who recently retired after running Ruth Taylor Estate Sales for 40 years, said building trust with her clients was the key to her success.
“Every sale is different and every family is different,” Taylor said. “I just tell them if they trust me, I will get the most money I can. I also allow them to come in and check whenever they want.”
Taylor used to work in the wholesale furniture business. She started doing estate sales to help her son go to medical school. Over the years, her kids and grandkids all pitched in to help grow the business.
“It’s something that I’ve enjoyed doing for a long time,” she said.
Help me Ronda has also become a family affair with Hooks’ mother-in-law and sister-in-law on the team.
“There’s always stuff coming and going,” Hooks said. “It’s like moving every weekend.”
Hooks said providing a positive experience has helped Help Me Ronda grow through word of mouth. Small touches like having a team of movers on-site working for tips make a difference.
“We try to make the client happy and do a good job,” Hooks said.