“Please take all of it, I don’t need anything!”
I get lots of calls from women who are ready to ‘downsize’, and have helped hundreds over the last thirty-five years, but never heard the line above until recently. It used to be a different story: “I am keeping most of the jewelry, the children want some of the furniture, and I would never sell my mother’s china or the silver,” but…
These days a wind of change is blowing more property into auction rooms.
Whether through divorce, death, illness or financial change, many women find themselves in charge of large amounts of ‘stuff’, often with little or no emotional attachment, or any real attachment at all. If your response is to let it all go, don’t fight it, but I suggest following the advice below anyway.
Over the years I have developed this series of simple steps (to be followed in order) for anyone making these decisions, whatever monetary value may be involved, and am delighted to share them with you through my old friend Brenda. I hope it helps:
- Figure out your objectives. This is an essential first step, and most professionals are reluctant to talk until you are at least at this stage. The primary choices are sell, keep or donate, (or a combination). Have a clear idea of what your goals are, and when you want to achieve them.
- If selling, decide what you want to keep. It is much easier to make this decision than deciding what you want to sell. Try it.
- Don’t be an appraiser. Seriously, back away from the computer. Whatever you paid, or whatever you think it is worth, it probably isn’t, and that stuff you don’t value is probably worth more than you think so don’t throw or give anything away until step 4.
- When you are set with steps 1, 2 and 3, call (better than emailing) for professional help. Remember, the person you reach has done this plenty of times before… You are new at it.
Whatever the circumstances, a good auctioneer is your best first call. No charge or obligation, and you will get an objective opinion. Try to get a referral, and ask the person you choose for references, but settle on someone you like and trust. Auctioneers, once hired, work for you on commission, so you are safe in the knowledge they are on your side.
- Take the professional’s advice. This may require ‘biting the bullet’, but is smart if you have picked the right professional.
There is plenty more advice to give, and plenty more subtlety, but these simple steps will save you a lot of angst if you follow them in order. Remember, you never own art and antiques. You are only borrowing them while you are here.