by Jim Henderson
President of William C. Huff Companies and
national speaker for estate downsizing and lifestyle transitions
Just the other day, I overheard a conversation about a woman who had hired a professional estate sale company to help liquidate her family’s belongings. The items were given to the company for sale but only after getting the police involved was the family able to recover a few of the pieces. They were never compensated for the almost $1 million worth of remaining estate items.
The loss was an incredible tragedy for the family not only financially but sentimentally. Without any ability to recover the money, this family learned a hard lesson in the worst of ways.
Being in the business of working with families who are selling their homes, downsizing and redistributing their possessions, this is just one of many horror stories I’ve heard throughout my career.
This summer, while relocating a very high net worth client (for the third time), she told me a similar story about her neighbor who had hired a moving company for a cross-country, corporate business move. Sadly, they never saw their things again. In her situation, the entire household completely vanished and there was no way to track down the company who stole their belongings.
These days, with the help of sophisticated websites and salespeople, it is easy to make anyone look professional and reputable. However, testimonials on a website are often written by a third party and after reading through several, one can see a pattern. Best price, excellent service and courteous staff are usually key terms used by internet based companies to attract customers.
So, who can you trust? To start with, get references from someone you know who has used the service and/or company. Second, visit the company’s physical address; it will speak volumes about the company’s character. And, if there is no physical address, don’t even consider using them. And lastly, do not consider any company whose price is the lowest in the industry. The current demand for estate sales and logistics providers is much higher than the number of quality service providers available due to the massive amounts of homeowners who are downsizing. Companies with a great reputation and legitimate reviews are going to be very busy and not the lowest bid. Cheaper is not better, you can’t put a price on peace of mind.