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  • Who needs an Estate Sale?

The need for an estate sale can arise under many circumstances. Sales are conducted for clients who are moving, relocating, downsizing, redecorating, facing foreclosure, combining households or have lost a family member or friend.  Some of our clients move or re-decorate every 3-5 years and we conduct a sale for them with each move.

  • What is the Estate Sale process?

Initially, we will spend some time talking about your estate & contents, picking dates for your sale & then formulating a game plan for the big event!  

The week before the sale, we set up the home and prepare it for the sale. Our staff displays the items using our own tables, display cases, signs, cash registers, credit card terminals, etc during the sale and any additional items that may be needed.  If you have light carpeting- we protect it with plastic during the sale.

The sale is advertised on our website, to our FaceBook fans and pages, Twitter, as well as various additional online advertising, fliers and professionally printed signage. For very large or unique estates, a press release will be issued (Click here for recent press).  Our mailing list of over 3,500 subscribers receive a notification of the sale with details, photo link & directions a few days before.

Typically a sale is held on a Friday and Saturday.  Numbers are issued to early customers before the sale begins and when the sale begins, 15-20 customers (by number) will enter the home and make their purchases. Our staff assists them with questions, pricing and purchasing their items.  As these customers exit, new customers (by number) then enter the home. From our customers we accept Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover & Debit Cards. Upon the completion of the sale, we tidy up the house and leave it ready for you or for a charity pickup. The check and paperwork are mailed to our clients within 6 days of the sale completion.

  • Who is KEY Estate Sales?

KEY Estate Sales is a family owned & operated Chicago estate sale liquidation firm.  Christine Acosta founded KEY Estate Sales in 1997 after growing up with antiques & collectibles and working in her parents antique store for 10 years.  Her husband Ces joined her in the business a few years later and they have been conducting estate sales every week since.   

We enjoy our work and the day to day challenges that come with it.  We have a lot of compassion for our clients who are going through this process, as we have lost loved ones ourselves and understand how difficult every part of this is.  In addition to being very good at conducting estate sales, we are also very good at just listening.  

We are based out of St. Charles, IL and have conducted hundreds of successful and profitable estate sales throughout Northern Illinois, including: St. Charles (over 100 sales in Saint Charles, Geneva & Batavia!), Geneva, Batavia, West Chicago, Wayne, Winfield, Carol Stream, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Itasca, Bloomingdale, Oak Brook, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge, Warrenville, Lisle, Bartlett, Barrington Hills, Barrington, South Barrington (All of the Barrington's!), Inverness, Roselle, Elburn, Maple Park, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, Campton Hills, Naperville, Elgin, South Elgin, Sleepy Hollow, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Algonquin, East & West Dundee, Plainfield, Oswego, McHenry, Woodstock, Carpentersville, Marengo, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Grayslake, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Long Grove, Kildeer, Wauconda, Round Lake Beach, Dekalb, Sycamore, Lombard, Oak Park, Westchester, Huntley, Cary, the North Shore (Winnetka, Wilmette, Northbrook, Evanston, Deerfield, Park Ridge, Glenview, Golf, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Highland Park, Skokie, Kenilworth, Niles, Lincolnwood, Glencoe, etc), Downtown Chicago & the Northern half of Chicago, Rockford & Lake Geneva and whew... I'm sure I am not remembering all of them!  Additionally, we have conducted many sales in Wisconsin, and larger sales in Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota.

Our experience working with and selling antiques, collectibles and contemporary furnishings spans decades.  Since 1997 we have conducted over 1200 successful estate sales and average 70+ estate & moving sales per year!

  • What do you charge?

For conducted estate sales we work on the following commission structure:

Very reasonable commission structure
30% up to $30,000 
25% From $30,000 to $60,000
20% Over $60,000
15% on vehicles, motorcycles and boats over $10,000

  • I am closing on my home in 2 weeks.  Can you still help?

Possibly.  Even when we have a full schedule, we maintain a sizable and wonderful team (we are fortunate to have many family members who have been in the business for decades!) and may be able to conduct a sale on short notice.  If we are overly booked and cannot assist you, we network with Chicago's finest estate sale companies and will refer you to one who will treat your sale with as much professionalism & respect as we would.

  • Speaking of other companies...  Why should we choose you?

(Well... We don't like to brag, but...) Since 1997, we have conducted over 1000 successful sales and in 2010 alone, thanks to an amazing team, superior ethical standards and a first-rate reputation-  KEY Estate Sales will have conducted an unprecedented 71 estate sales. As a client, you have a lot of choices to make.  Depending on your particuliar situation, you may be working with Attorneys, Accountants,  Real Estate Agents, Probate, other family members and so on.  What to do with the contents of the home is yet another difficult decision to make.  KEY Estate Sales is licensed, insured and bonded.  Additionally, we are an A+ Rated member of the Better Business Bureau.  Without giving you a lot of "fluff" (okay- I may be wordy and long-winded, but not fluffy), we can tell you that we do have many years of experience selling household contents of ALL kinds from extremely valuable (artwork, jewelry, fine antiques, etc) to general content (IE: George Foreman grills...)  Due to our experience in working with antiques and collectibles for so many years, we can accurately identify what is and what is not considered valuable, price knowledgeably, effectively advertise and host a well organized, secure and highly attended estate sale.  It has taken us MANY years of conducting sales every week to perfect this.

The best advice I can give you is, when choosing an estate sale company- it is important to do some homework.  There are lists of estate sale companies on the Internet and on these lists there are companies who are very good at what they do and there are companies who are not, as there are in any industry.  These are paid advertising lists and anyone can join them.  The problem is, as the websites all start to sound alike, it is difficult to tell who is truly experienced and who just started last year. We have compiled a list of a few good tips for you when doing your research and choosing an estate sale company. 

1.  Check References.  If a company has references from the last year or two only, but has been advertising that they have been in business for 10 years, they should have references that are more than a couple years old.  You should talk with previous clients, as well as customers who attend their sales. Check the Better Business Bureau. 

2.  Are they full time or part time?  I do not have a lot of faith in companies who try to run estate sales part time. When we are booked and need to refer a client to another company, we only refer them to full-time companies. In my opinion, practice and years of experience are imperative in this industry. My husband and I both run our company full time, which means we live estate sales day and night. This is how we make our living and feed our 4 daughters (& believe me my daughters can eat!), we read Kovels in our spare time, our best friends started off as customers, our 16 year old can accurately identify a "real" Hummel and our 8 year old not only knows what a record player is, but she knows how to use one!

3.  Different companies tend to know the sales trends of certain geographical areas better.  For instance- we are a North, West and Suburban company. Our following is very strong in the Near West Suburbs (Elmhurst, Lombard, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Burr Ridge) Western Suburbs (we live in the Geneva/St. Charles area), the NorthWest Suburbs, the North Shore and the North Side of Chicago.  If you are located on the South Side- there may be companies who would be a better fit for you (for a far South side sale or a Northwest Indiana sale- please call Sue O'Brien of Susie's Estates at (708) 557-9180, she is a fantastic liquidator specializing in that area). We price items differently on the North side than on the south side.  It's a little thing, but an important one.

4.  Are they currently doing sales?  March through November is our industry's busy season (we stay busy all year, but do usually take a few weeks off in the winter over the holidays), do they have upcoming sales advertised?  If not, why? A reputable company should be booked several weeks in advance.

5.  Cash only?  60-75% of our customers pay with a credit or debit card.  A customer should always have a choice when paying other than just cash- checks or charge should also be accepted.

6.  What is the minimum and what is included in that minimum?  Most companies now, if not all, have a minimum fee of some sort. This should be discussed and explained before an agreement is signed. The minimum should cover company expenses like credit card fees, staffing, set up, advertising, insurance, etc. If a company is claiming that they have no minimum and the sale outcome is less than $3000, how is the company paying the staff? 

7.  Does it sound too good to be true?  Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for a less than reputable company to glorify the amount that a sale will bring just to "get the sale."  Newer companies will not know what a sale will bring.  An experienced company will tell you wether or not you have enough to have a sale and if so, be able to give you an educated probable range of where they feel the sale will end up.

8.  The following link is to a great article that I found online with a lot of helpful tips and information on estate sales as well: http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/financial-planning/estate-sales.htm

  • Are you insured?

Absolutely! We maintain a $2,000,000 Liability Insurance Policy at all times.  

  • I have a lot of items to sell, but I really don't want people walking through my house- can you help?

If you do not want to have an onsite sale, or cannot (many condo associations, gated communities and storage facilities do not allow onsite sales) we have 2 beautiful 3500 square foot upscale consignment stores located in St. Charles. While we cannot house all of the items in your home for consignment, we can showcase on a consignment basis furniture that is current & in style, some antiques as well as better decor items, rugs, and artwork.

Our estate sale clients love this optional service as well, as it means we do not have to reduce the prices by 50% on the last day of the sale on better pieces. If they do not sell during the sale, these items can be delivered to the showroom and sold on a consignment basis (we do not "buy out" items, so there is never a conflict) for a period of 90-120 days. Truly a win-win! If you are interested Click here for more information

  • What happens after the sale?

Most items will sell during an estate sale. However, typically not every item sells, which means there will be some miscellaneous remaining. We can refer you to a wonderful charitable organization who will come in after the sale, box the remaining clean and salable items, take them away and supply you with a charitable donation receipt for tax purposes. You may choose to keep the remaining items and dispose of them on your own- the choice is completely yours to make. 

  • I still have questions...  How can I reach you?

We can be reached at (630) 677-1638 (we also receive texts at anytime at this number) during the hours of 9AM - 8PM Monday through Saturday.  Or you can send us an email at cacosta@keyestatesales.com or visit our contact us page by clicking here

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