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Secret Haven Property Assessment

The one thing we want most of all is to be back in Tennessee!  An important part of estate liquidation is to do a property assessment.  Not all properties are acceptable to take on for an estate sale, but we believe every house has treasures.  Secret Haven also has living treasures.

Secret Haven Property AssessmentWesley and I sat down with our potential estate sale client in Tennessee, who is no stranger to me. We drove all the way from Maryland to meet up with my uncle. He wanted to put his house on the market and possibly needed an estate state to empty the contents of the house.

I looked around the property and I wondered why? Why give up a piece of property, and especially one that he worked so hard at setting up?

His sons live in Ohio, and that’s where he’s also from. He’s a northerner, like me, but we both ended up in the south.

There is a really difficult task that estate liquidators have to do. That is, trying to get the potential client to understand that not everything they have can be sold, and they more than likely will not get the money back that they spent buying an item. Unless it’s a collectable that is sought after, chances are, we will only be able to get fair market value, or sometimes below. There is nothing we can do to change that.

Estate liquidation has processes defined.

I try to explain the estate liquidation process to each potential client, but I am not one to sugar coat things. I’m a “matter of fact” type of woman with a strong personality.

When someone asks me a question, I tend to just answer it bluntly, not taking into consideration that I might come across as a careless, analytical robot. I don’t think ahead some times.

“Show me what your processes are.” He asked, not knowing he was about to get estate liquidation handed to him as a matter of fact approach.

“Ok, this is how it works.” I started out as if he will understand my processes perfectly. I pointed to things as if those things don’t matter. As an estate liquidator, I am unattached to other people’s things. That’s what makes us valuable in helping people liquidate their properties.

“That right there can be sold.” I said, pointing at something I saw in the yard. I pointed to something else. “That will go to the dump.” Then it happened… I was showing him exactly how my mind thinks and I didn’t even take into consideration what things meant to him. He is not just any client. He is my uncle for crying out loud!

I already had it in my heart that Wesley and I were going to end up back in Maryland and there was nothing I could do here. He wasn’t ready to liquidate. Perhaps my matter of fact approach was the wrong approach, but regardless, I knew by looking at him that he was not ready.

Property assessment.

I looked around his property, like I do with all properties, and I started scoping out what kind of work needed to be done. His estate is not a typical estate. You see, he is a city farmer.

His estate comes with chores that neither me, nor Wesley, are accustomed to doing. We enter a house and two weeks later, we leave a house. Done. Move on to the next house.

This one is different. I look around and I see all the hard work my uncle put into his property and my heart melted. I can not treat this property as a typical estate sale, and it is not going to be two weeks later and I am on to the next. Regardless, I wanted the challenge. If not for him, and his strong desire to move back home to Ohio, than for Wesley and me. We wanted to be in Tennessee and this was our chance.

It was getting late and my uncle wasn’t ready, so on Thursday, we plan to go back to Maryland. It’s okay though. We know more people in Maryland than we do in Tennessee. Being on the road is hard, but we are used to it. And back on the road we will go.

Another assessment.

A short time before we were getting ready to leave for Maryland, my uncle called me. Wesley and I went back to his house and we sat down with him again.

“I’m overwhelmed.”

My heart melted again and I fought tears. In just the short time between now and our last visit, he had been trying to get his house ready for the market.

“Let us help you!”

This is something that is tough for everyone involved. Liquidating an estate is not easy. Not for the liquidators, and especially not for the ones getting their houses liquidated. I know estate liquidation like the back of my hand and I can rattle off all the processes and all the checklists and everything that has to be done from start to finish.

But, I have never liquidated a house like his before.

Carrot Spice Cake

One or two animals is my skill level.

I can rescue a dog from the street, and I can take a goldfish from an estate where the people were trying to kill it.

Adopting a bunny from another estate when the owner had to move and the bunny couldn’t go with her, is also on my checklist.

Planning a garden, purchasing seeds and dreaming of a market garden is another skill.

But I have never walked through the process of actually stepping on to an existing homestead and managing it.

Black lionhead rabbitI love planning homesteads.

I spent countless hours and years planning Our Little Homestead, but I never got to walk through those plans. Looking around my uncle’s property was like looking at my planning notes, except now they were not notes. The bunnies on my notes became little eyes looking at me as my uncle showed me his chores.

The pond designs I posted on my Facebook wall, so many years ago, never came to fruition. When I introduce my homestead to people, I only tell them that the green grass, outlined by the wood chips, is where the koi pond goes. But I have never taken care of a pond. I’ve only planned for one.

In my many homestead notes, there are fruit trees, nut trees, grape vines, and so much more that I wanted to plant. Some day.

But here, my uncle had done what I had only planned to do. It makes me wonder if I planned too much. What if I would have just said no to traveling for work, and just stepped out in faith and implemented my plans? Would my yard be as far along as my uncle’s homestead?

Marketing is the second process.

Business management is the first process, followed by marketing.  And so the second process begins. I didn’t have to market for this account. My mother, whom I like to call Mommy Jean, told me my uncle wanted to sell his house and he needed someone to do an estate sale. Mommy Jean did the marketing.

During the second process of estate liquidation, we do property assessments for every potential client who calls us. The process begins by making a determination if there will be enough stuff to call it a full estate.

We also look at parking because a lot of shoppers need some place to park.

We try to calculate how much we think the estate will bring during the estate sale. We also have a pretty good idea about how much it will cost us to prepare an estate. And, truth be told, we are also determining if we even want an account. There is always the choice to turn down an account.

Much more work than a typical estate sale.

My uncle’s property is way beyond what code enforcement allows. The weeds are taller than me, so in my assessment, I scope out what has to be done before we can even hold the public estate sale.

Secret Haven Pear TreeMy analytical mind kicks in and the property becomes like a Tetris game. This will fit here. That will fit there. We can move this over there. That can come over here. Those weeds are hiding treasures and we need to find the treasures. I know they are in there because one of the treasure is standing tall, right before my eyes. I see pears on it.

Every house has treasures.

Then I find myself following my uncle around the property, learning the routine of caring for the farm. The scope of work is very clear to me. I can see what needs to be done and then I felt peace. Wesley and I can do this. We can learn the skills we lack, such as flipping a house, and taking care of bees, and managing a koi pond, and feeding chickens, ducks, turkeys and bunnies.

He once had pigs on a city lot in Knoxville, but I am so grateful they are not here now.

It was as if YHWH transported me into my dream career, except not at Our Little Homestead in Clinton.

If this were just an estate sale, the property assessment would be easy. I know the drill, but before I can get to the part where I shine in, I have to get through the part where I must learn.

And so Wesley and I continue our lessons on chores. My uncle works his way through all the chores and now we know what our new routine will be like. We don’t just show up and start the estate sale processes. This one will be like walking through Our Little Homestead plans, and I want to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

This property assessment has changed out lives.

Chronological Journal: 2017 Journal


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A coffee house on a city homestead and creating open source plans, and sharing what we learn.


Learning how to find our way through homesteading and starting a coffee house, and keeping it running. Basically, we started a coffee house, but figured out no one wanted to give us wholesale pricing because we were too new, and too small.

We closed the coffee house and decided in order to get wholesale pricing, we would have to grow our own produce and start a buying club. Then reality hit. We now blog about reality.


Right now, we flip contents of homes, by way of estate sales.  Visit our Estate Freedom site for more information.


1. City Homestead
Setting up a homestead in the city.  We are blogging about our experiences, beginning with the estate sale that brought us back to Tennessee, and then what brought us to leaving Tennessee in the first place.

2. Domestic Kitchen
Setting up a domestic kitchen in Clinton, TN. We are using the Tennessee Cottage Food law as a guideline.

3. Market Garden
Setting up a market garden.

4. Coffee House
Setting up a coffee house in Clinton, TN. After this phase is completed, we will have a commercial kitchen instead of a domestic kitchen.


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