The economy has been struggling recently, to say the least. With so many people unemployed or underemployed, tightening one’s belt has become a necessity. Families are downsizing. Collectors are selling off their collections just to pay the rent. Parents are moving in with their adult children. If you need quick cash, estate liquidation in Atlanta, Georgia can be the perfect solution for you.

Most estate sales are conducted in an auction format, however, meaning that it is of vital importance to select the correct estate liquidator. Nearly all of the work will be performed by the liquidator, including researching the value of items, notifying prospective buyers of the impending sale, preparing the merchandise, and managing the sale on the big day. The wrong seller will get you only pennies on the dollar. You need someone with the experience and contacts to get top dollar.

To that end, there are five questions you should ask of any prospective estate liquidator:

Are You BBB Accredited?

Legitimate businesses get accredited by the Better Business Bureau to prove to prospective customers that they are a reputable company to do business with. More shady operations are unable to prove their legitimacy. If you cannot find evidence of a company’s reputable business practices, it is a major red flag that should probably point you in a different direction.

Do You Collect Sales Tax?

Legal businesses are required by law to collect sales tax on all merchandise sold. Any business that fails to do so is already hiding unethical business practices from the government. What else are they hiding? This problem is significantly exasperated if the government decides to come after you for the back taxes as the original owner of the merchandise sold.

Can You Earn Top Dollar?

If a liquidator lacks the sales skills, experience, or contacts to properly market an item worth hundreds of dollars or more, they probably should not be put in charge of selling it. Some unscrupulous liquidators will also purchase items from the sale themselves and resell them later for a huge profit at your expense. To prevent this, choose a liquidator that does not have a storage unit or retail space on the side. You also need to do your homework, as some unscrupulous vendors are smart enough to have the second business in someone else’s name.

You should also avoid choosing an estate liquidator by the percentage they charge alone. Most liquidators do not charge anything up front, so you can spring for quality even if you have little cash on hand. Selling an item for $1,000 is much better than selling it for $100, even if the higher price costs you a few more percentage points. Right?

Do You Have References?

Past clients who are satisfied with a company’s performance are generally more than happy to share the experience upon request. Unsatisfied customers are just as likely to talk, but the company will go out of its way to prevent you from reaching them. If you do find someone to talk to, be sure to ask them about specific details about their estate sale in order to ensure that they are actually satisfied past clients and not hired to pretend to be.

Are You Bonded And Insured?

An insured company protects you as well as itself if anything goes awry, so it should be a requirement of any service you hire. Bonding also speaks to the trustworthiness of the company in question.

Only companies with satisfactory answers to the above questions should make it to your short list. The final test should be to attend sales run for other people. There is no better way to get a feel for what the company is like in action than to see it for yourself.