Ask the Maine Experts: How to Stress Less About Downsizing
Tips from the experts at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries on how to sort out your treasured possessions.
As Sam Crawford’s parents aged, they made it clear that they didn’t want to downsize from their home in the Miami area.
“They loved that house,” says Crawford (a pseudonym used at the family’s request). “All my siblings were raised in that house. It didn’t matter that it was more practical to go to a smaller place.”
After his parents’ death, liquidating the couple’s furnishings, paintings, and sculptures with Crawford in Maine was a daunting proposition, especially given that Crawford and his siblings were scattered all over the world. Some international auction houses made proposals to disperse the estate, but they wanted to cherry-pick only the highest-value items and leave the family with the rest. Crawford wanted to work with Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, from Maine, because he knew the organization would handle the entire process for the family.
Kaja Veilleux, founder of Thomaston Place Antiques Galleries, flew down to Florida to assess and catalog the items in the home. Then, vice president John Bottero and staff members arrived to carefully pack and prep the items for the moving van trip to Thomaston, where each item was inspected, researched, photographed, and prepared for auction.
“It was a huge lift off our shoulders,” Crawford says. “It was so helpful to work with professionals who understand items’ true value and have worked with many families who have gone through this process,” he says.
“We felt that we were getting the attention that our family items deserved.”
Every year, the experts at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries work with hundreds of families like the Crawfords to help them navigate this tricky process of downsizing. A few of their tips to make it easier:
Talk to your loved ones. Let family members know you are downsizing. Find out about any special requests they might have.
Learn what your items are worth. A professional appraiser can help you determine how much items will sell for and what to do with them. Whether you opt for a full written appraisal or an informal walk through, choose a professional who is actively involved in the marketplace and can accurately identify a wide variety of household and antique objects.
Take a top-down approach. Using an appraisal as a guide, group your possessions into three different categories: items valued at $1,000 or more, items valued between $100 and $1,000, and items valued under $100. Spend the most significant amount of time on the items of most significant value.