Collection Obsessions

Babs in the City—Estate Sales, Treasures and Hoarding

When your collection becomes obsession it is time for a sale.


Someone recently told me that I was on the verge of becoming a hoarder. Yikes! My wife smiled and agreed that I have eccentric tastes, and a lot of original art by local artists, and art made by my own hands hanging everywhere, plus too many books and altars. I responded, “It looks crowded, but that’s only because we need more room!”

I don’t have papers stacked floor to ceiling (my wife is a neat freak, bless her heart), or buy cases of toothpaste to store in case of the end of the world, but I think as I get older and lose more of my mental marbles, I might tip into full blown hoarding. Luckily, I have a partner who will silently move things out the back door as I stack them by the front door without me noticing. I’m pretty sure she does that already.

I believe it’s a universal truth that we attract people like ourselves. Thus, I get a ton of hoarder clients referred to me. I work with eclectic, eccentric people—artists, burners, pussy hat protesters, drag queens and drag kings, and spiritual folk. Sure, I work with normal people too, but the eclectic ones are often much more fun, and their homes much more interesting than the stucco rambler in West Jordan in the planned subdivision.

Over the years I’ve had to amass quite team of helpers who will gently assist a hoarder sort through their prized possessions, to pack and purge, deep clean afterwards, and haul worthless items to the dump, or hold an estate sale after they move (or pass).

There are a handful of estate liquidators that I trust in the city. A good company will know values, know when to have items appraised, what is crap, and to price items accordingly. I recently worked with a family, all of whom were over the age of 65. The siblings lived in three different states, and the homeowner here had a stroke so severe that he was placed in assisted living forever, as he had lost much of his ability to move and most of his mental abilities.

He had been living in his home as a hermit and turned off the water two years before his final stroke. He defecated in the plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in and urinated in used milk jugs. He just threw mail on the floor, until it was a foot deep in every room. When I met the relatives at the house, I handed them face masks I had anointed with bergamot oil.

The home was a nightmare inside. All the relatives needed was his driver license and birth certificate. It took my team a few days of shoveling to find what they wanted. Afterword we sold the home to flippers.

Estate liquidators charge about 30-35% of the total take on the sale. Trust me, you will get more money from a professionally run estate sale than any yard sale you can do yourself. When interviewing potential companies, ask what they charge, if they will haul unsold items to a charity, and what appraisers they work with locally.

Babs in the City by Babs De Lay: Broker Urban Utah Homes & Estatesportrait of Babs De Lay

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