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Hi,


We are trying to empty out MIL’s house to put it on the market. It’s all delayed because of COVID. it’s a race against time now the summer is almost gone.


We want it done ASAP and want to hire people to do it but not sure how much it’d cost and how long it’s take. It’s a small 3 bedroom house with 20 years worth of stuff ( thank goodness not 50 years’ worth because they moved after retirement ).


Due to COVID probably no estate sale or donation.


Any experience? Please share! Thanks!

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We sorted the keeper items from the non-keepers. Then had an estate sale company handle everything else. They sold as much as they could & cleaned the townhouse. My folks did not have many valuable things, but still I was shocked at how little $$ we ended up with. But it was worth it.
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Reply to nature73
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Tothill, I had a similar experience with the 1-800 junkers, and also had a slightly similar experience with the very good disaster cleanup folks I had.   They were outstanding the first day, so I kind of backed off on working with them the second day, only to discover that one worker hadn't told the other worker what to take and what to leave.

Some valuable electronic equipment ended up in the trash trailer.    I learned my lesson; now I work right alongside the workers, and there's no question as to their having to interpret or guess what stays and what goes.
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If you in ahead of time and get everything you feel is important to keep, then STEP AWAY and let the professionals do their thing.

I would NOT be there daily, watching and in the way. Stuff you deem as irreplaceable is likely to be junk. Are you wanting to save a lot of stuff or get rid of it? If it's 'get rid of' you will have a much better experience. If it's 'I'll look at everything that comes out of the house', you are in for a huge nightmare. Most professionals work fast and hard and get the job done ASAP. They don't fuss over the 100 white blouses your aunt stored or the 50 candles they won at BINGO. They will junk stuff with no real thought.

If you're emotionally involved, it slows the process down by at least half. I got involved with helping a 'friend' 2 years ago. EPIC fail. I had a LOT of help, but she wouldn't throw ANYTHING away. She was going to store things in those PODS you see, until she realized they cost $700 per month and she had 3 filled ones. (Guess what idiot put the PODS on her CC? I was out almost $4K. I did get it back, eventually, but it ruined my relationship with this woman.)

My experience, should I ever have to go through this again would be to have the owner go through and retrieve anything they want. Then they need to be nowhere near the cleanup site.

Obviously, the cleaners should be aware of truly valuable things, such as caches of money or paperwork that is needed. But every time they have to stop and ask the owner what to do with something---the clock is ticking.

I've seen completely hoarded homes completely emptied and cleaned in as little as 4 days---but the owners were not around and the cleaners/organizers simply put their heads down and worked.

I wouldn't 'cheap out' on this. Get a lot of recommendations first and go with the one you feel best about.

We DID use our church for a LOT of the work. Everyone came away with a bad taste in their mouths about this woman who used us all to death. I wouldn't help her again for anything, in any situation. I still feel stupid.
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I know that 1-800 got junk is a franchise and each location is owned independently, however I had a terrible experience with them and would not recommend them to anyone. My bad experience went beyond the local franchise to the person answering the phone at the 1-800# and their supervisor. I was at work and had arranged for someone to meet them at my house, but they did not show up. When I called I was told they were standing my my driveway talking to my husband. Except he had moved out 12 months before and was living in a different city.

Then the left 1/3 of the stuff that was quoted for removal behind.
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Thank you everyone for your replies!
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Reply to Ludmila
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Did your mother-in-law attend church? If so maybe there is a ministry there that will help you.
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I recently hired a company to clean out garage, haul junk and sanitize the whole garage after everything was done, disappointing to say the least, and cost me $3,500. I have to take what is left in the garage and take it outside, clean and sanitize the garage myself. Be careful, people do rip you off and I would never hire them again. I tried to do a review, but was not able to find the link. lealonnie was smart to not hire the junk company. I wanted to get rid of 3 dead animals in our garage fast so I did not get references and was in a major hurry to clean the mess up. I felt so bad for the little animals, they must of froze in the dead of winter. I would have cleaned the garage myself, but I did not want to deal with those poor animals. Beware of hiring Junk companies, get references, ask relatives and friends for recommendations.
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Isthisrealyreal Aug 23, 2020
Never pay until the work is completed in full.
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If someone is going to come in and just toss the stuff that is there are you sure MIL has not "hidden" money or other valuables in the house some place?
If there is furniture of value an Estate Sale company will take care of that. If it is not of value then contact a Veterans group, the Salvation Army or a local church group that has a resale shop.
Old clothing that is not of value check with the local school and see if the Theater group wold like some of the items. If not Salvation Army, Veterans group or your church resale shop.
These groups are open and are picking items up. Estate Sales companies are open, and holding sales.
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jkm999 Aug 21, 2020
Ggood point about checking for money. I found over $2500 in various suitcases when cleaning my father's house. He take cash on vacation and then never clean out the suitcase so his emergency money was always still in a side pocket.
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Adding to what others have written, it depends not only on the size but on the nature of the items.   I did have one of the 800 companies, but I also called a number of local companies, one of which was very manipulative and aggressive.   That's when I got nervous.

Don't bother with disaster remediation companies; while I did have one which was outstanding, another in a different country was as dishonest as could be.   

I went with a Veteran owned company, which was better than any I'd interviewed.   There was a vast difference in the skill level of what they could handle, and that was anything.  They were able to dismantle a utility trailer as well as a shed.    The first company just avoided anything that couldn't be fit in the trailer "as is."

So much depends on what you have though.   If there are large, industrial or work shop items like a drill press, or radial arm saw, you'd probably be more comfortable with someone who knows how to manage them.  One of my father's yard equipment tools (a rototiller) had to be dismantled,  The 800 outfit wouldn't even touch it.   The military guys knew how to cut it apart.

I called an estate sale company potentially for help indoors, but they were so focused on towels, pillow cases, etc. that I didn't think they'd have the knowledge for disposal of heavier equipment, such as a washer.    

As to cleaning, there are various levels; this can be a more challenging task.   I had hired Molly Maids (a franchise) but they had specific limitations:  wouldn't stand on ladders, etc.).   

The only company I did find to do extensive top to bottom cleaning was a very reputable and helpful disaster remediation company, which not only removed small items and larger ones (a dresser), but cleaned the floor till it literally sparkled.    And they used an environmentally friendly orange based cleaner.   The house smelled fragrant, unless some of the harsh smells left by chemical cleaners.  

They also left an air filter in the house for a few days to remove any other odors.   This company was top notch!    I wanted them to help for the outside shed clearing as well, but it was at the time of winter freezes and they had to first service clients of the insurance company with which they worked.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Estate sale companies in the Denver area ARE having sales nowadays and have been doing so since late May. Go to Estatesales.net and check them out in your area. Depending on the condition of your MILs home, they will generally take upwards of 45% of the profits they make on the things they sell during a 3 or 4 day sale, again depending on how much stuff there is to sell. They will sort through ALL of it, organize it, display it, price it, sell it, and hire a truck to get rid of and donate whatever is left over at the end of the sale. You, of course, take out whatever you want to keep prior to the sale date, and that's about it. Easy peasy.

Good luck!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Check some of the estate sale and real estate folks to discuss your needs. When my friend sold her condo she wanted to get rid of all the stuff inside - furniture, clothing, everything - because she was doing a total downsizing to a travel trailer for a year of travel. She had an estate sale person come in and do absolutely everything. She was told "Don't even bother to clean out the refrigerator. Pretend you just died. Lock the door and walk away. We will send you the proceeds." There was a hefty fee but that was offset by whatever the estate sale people made from the sale. She ended up making money from the estate sale even after the fees were subtracted. The estate sale people did everything - including cleaning the vacant condo at the end of the sale.

I cleaned out my father's home after a lifetime of stuff. It was a full time job for about a month and I didn't try to sell anything. I advertised stuff a free just to get it out of the house. And I had the advantage that the people buying the house offered to take whatever had to go the the dump for me. I just piled it in the garage and they hauled it away. And even with all that help it was still a living nightmare.
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I found someone who works in a team of 3 for $150/hr, minimum 3 hours. I have no helping hands. I believe they clean and sell but keep the profits from the sale.

On the other hand a neighbor is helping someone who is overwhelmed but has collections of vintage comic books, music albums, books and he is willing to catalogue them. For him it's a hobby and he has the space.
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Reply to Pasa18
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Check in your area. Much depends on the size of the job.Many companies will want to empty a place where many contents are antique or collectible or otherwise of value assuming they can keep what they haul away. If you are down to 1-800-junk they will also give you an estimate. You can check with Goodwill and so on to see what they may want. Ask any antique shops in your area of they have any interest. 50 years of "stuff" depend upon the stuff. Find a Bauer plate it is worth money to those who place items online. So start with what is there and work your way through. If, as I said, it is a 1-800-junk type job give a call for estimate. That will vary greatly I would imagine in covid-19 times. Good luck.
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lealonnie1 Aug 21, 2020
When I called 1-800-GOT-JUNK to get estimates, I was flabbergasted at their prices! They wanted $600 for 1/4th of a trucks worth of space!!! To get rid of JUNK. No thanks is what I told them. $2400 for a whole truck's worth of space to get rid of JUNK is highway robbery, in my book.
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