SALEM -- Complaints about estate sales to the Oregon Attorney General the past few years have nearly doubled, catching the eye of legislators.
The Department of Justice says auctions have rules regarding time frames on when you have to get your money and how that money is to be in a separate trust account with no co-mingling of funds. But estate sales have no regulations and it may be why complaints are up.
Carol Welch has been managing estate sales for 16 years and said she would like to see better regulation.
"You're hiring someone who is charge of your merchandise, your family things, and your money and you better know who they are,” Welch said.
To do that takes some homework, including checking online for complaints with the Department of Justice or the Better Business Bureau. Welch said you also need to get references and check them out.
“That's why I tell my clients somebody is handling your money. I'm going to handle it for a while but basically it's not mine," Welch explained.
Welch said he always uses a cash register and gives buyers a receipt. She also keeps one for herself and her clients so everyone knows exactly what is being sold and for how much.
Welch said a written contract is essential to make sure both parties understand what is and isn’t supposed to be sold and what percentage the estate sale manager will be charging.
She said the percentage is based on how much stuff is to be sold, its condition, and how much cleanup will be required to be done before the sale and after.
"Because fashion has changed not every item will sell. Over time people's lives have changed. Young people are living differently, so items like China cabinets and dining room tables with chairs just don’t sell like they used to," she said.
Oregon House Bill 3267 was introduced last legislative session to set rules and regulations on Estate Sales but it never made it to a vote. The bill is expected to be re-vamped and introduced again when the legislature convenes in February.