Jul 9, 2015

Finding Value In Those Old 78 RPM Records

The bidding stood at $16,800 until the last few seconds of the eBay auction. Then, auction sniping software kicked in. Within seconds, the bidding soared to over $30,000. The final selling price of the item was just over $37,000.

What was it that caused all the fuss? An old shellac 78 RPM record by Tommy Johnson on the Paramount label, released about 1930. The winning bidder, noted collector John Tefteller, drove from his home in Oregon all the way to South Carolina to pick up his win, dubbed “The World’s Most Expensive 78.”

The lesson to be learned? Perhaps auction-goers, estate executors, antiquers and thrift shop scourers should think twice before passing up a box lot full of old 78s. Says Tefteller of his win:

“The seller… found the record some years back at an estate sale. He absolutely did not realize what he had and how rare it was until he put it on eBay. Within the first few hours of being listed on the auction site, another collector tried to stop the sale by offering the seller $4,000 for the record. Fortunately, he let the auction proceed and I was able to win it in the final moments.”

Not all 78s are rare and collectible, though. Just like stamps and coins, there are many available and most are worth pocket change at best. How, then, can one quickly assess the contents of such box lots to see if there might be gold among the shellac?

With the right approach—says Tom Roberts, noted Harlem-Stride style pianist, music historian, and 78s collector—an experienced eye can make short work of assessing a stack of old 78s. In a conversation earlier this week, Tom shared his methodology with me. >>> Read More

Jul 7, 2015

Protecting Your Sole Proprietor Estate Assets

You’ve worked long and hard to build your business. You have a great reputation, strong cash flow, a solid asset base, and reliable employees. You operate “lean and mean” as a sole proprietorship. You may be a car mechanic, consultant, plumber, eBayer, building contractor, landscaper, professional or other entrepreneur.

Then you die unexpectedly without an up-to date will or succession plan. What happens to your business?

In most cases, the business will fall apart, for a variety of reasons. The law recognizes no difference between a sole proprietors business and personal assets. When the owner dies, accounts are frozen. No one is permitted to sign checks or distribute funds, sell retail inventory, or create liabilities (payroll, etc. for completing in-progress jobs, for example). Even if an office manager or payables clerk has the authority to sign checks, he/she is not allowed to do so when the proprietor dies. >>> Read More

Jul 5, 2015

The Need for Estate Sale Operator Licensing

The headline of the consumer complaint post was brash: “They literally stole our whole house: they sold $42,527 worth of items and gave us a check for $1,682.” The details of this homeowners’ plight were tragic: he had been “ripped off” by an estate sale company.

According to the story on ripoffreport.com (specific company/client has been redacted due to liability concerns), the complainant had a 10-room, five-bedroom home filled with expensive furnishings, including dozens of pieces of Waterford crystal, Hutschenreuther fine china, unique decorative pieces, a piano and fine furniture. The estimated market value of the contents was $42,527. Said the homeowner: “On the (liquidator’s) final report, 80 percent of the items were missing and unaccounted for—they just disappeared. They offered me a cash payment of $1,682 for the entire household and lame excuses and blatant lies for the missing items that I directly questioned them on.”

The estate sale business is booming, and more new companies entering the field will result in still more complaints from consumers. Unfortunately, the estate liquidation industry is largely unregulated, as estate tag sale liquidators are not required to be licensed.

The estate sale business is booming, and more new companies entering the field will result in still more complaints from consumers. Unfortunately, the estate liquidation industry is largely unregulated, as estate tag sale liquidators are not required to be licensed.

Today, there are more than one hundred such companies operating in the same area. Such rapid growth is consistent throughout the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the 40 million citizens over the age of 65 rose 15 percent from 2000 to 2010. By 2030, it is expected that the number of Americans older than the age of 65 will rise to 72 million. The rising demand for estate liquidation services has caused many companies to enter the field, and many more will be added in the next decade. >>> Read More

Jul 3, 2015

Five Steps to Take When the Liquidation Company Says No

It’s a common occurrence: an executor calls an estate sale company to provide an estimate for liquidating an estate’s personal property and the liquidation company says “no thanks.”

Why does this happen, and what can an executor do when it does?

It happens because liquidating an estate’s personal property can be a monumental job, and there has to be enough high-dollar goods available to make that job worthwhile for a liquidation company. Once an estate’s heirs have claimed their “due” and stripped an estate of its most valuable assets all that’s left for an estate sale company is “the dregs.” There’s often not enough money in run-of-the-mill household goods to be a profitable undertaking for a liquidation company.

There’s often not enough money in run-of-the-mill household goods to be a profitable undertaking for a liquidation company. If this happens, there are other steps you can take.
There’s often not enough money in run-of-the-mill household goods to be a profitable undertaking for a liquidation company. If this happens, there are other steps you can take.

Even when the heirs aren’t interested in an estate’s personal property, some estates just aren’t worth the trouble. Other estates may seem like a lost cause, but how is an executor to know for sure? What if an executor has everything hauled off to Goodwill, only to find out from nephew Bill that there were about a dozen out-of-print first editions on the bookshelf, and that the framed 45 RPM record by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers wasn’t an old high school buddy’s band, but rather an early iteration of The Beatles? >>> Read More

Jul 1, 2015

Why Millennials Don't Want Their Parents Stuff

There was a time when prosperous Americans eschewed durable consumer goods. Rarely would they buy a mass-produced sofa or dining set. Instead, they bought functional antiques that would hold their value from generation to generation and not be fodder for the dump in six or seven years. Take the DuPont’s of Delaware, for example. The Winterthur Museum (a former DuPont estate) houses one of the finest collections of antique furniture in America. The estate wasn’t furnished with antiques for their artistic value, but rather for day-to-day use.

Baby Boomers are getting stuck with family treasures because today’s Millennials—the next generation of heirs for these goods—don’t want them. So, how does one go about getting rid of these items that, in generations past, were passed down to the younger generations?
Baby Boomers are getting stuck with family treasures because today’s Millennials—the next generation of heirs for these goods—don’t want them. So, how does one go about getting rid of these items that, in generations past, were passed down to the younger generations?

For generations, antiques were passed among family members as part of an estate. With each generation, well-cared-for antiques became more treasured and heirs were almost always glad to get them.

America’s middle-class homes followed the same pattern: a family’s “treasures” were passed from generation to generation, even if the treasures were modest. Ultimately, the homes of Baby Boomers became repositories for the trappings of several generations of collectors and hoarders.

It seems like the Boomers will be stuck with these “treasures,” too, because today’s Millennials—the next generation of heirs for these goods—don’t want them. Marketing polls in recent years have “sliced and diced” the psyche of Millennials, and determined that (for the most part) they just don’t want their parent’s “stuff.” They don’t want the overstuffed furniture, they don’t want the boxes of memorabilia, and they don’t want great-grandma’s mahogany secretary. >>> Read More