A touch of Sweden in Sebastopol.

A touch of Sweden in Sebastopol.

Amy S.

I was referred to Whitcomb and Cate after the sudden, unexpected death of my mother. My mother was a humble woman of limited means, but her home was full of a lifetime of sentimental treasures. My initial plan was to discard and/or donate seemingly worthless items. Whitcomb and Cate's advice was matchless: don't throw anything away. With this simple instruction, it relieved me of the burden of going through all of my mother’s things and making a value judgment. They took care of everything.  The estate sale exceeded everyone's expectations. I was gratified to see items that sold that I was going to throw away. Whitcomb and Cate saw the value in things that I simply did not. Whitcomb and Cate have extensive knowledge of all kinds of subjects: jewelry, antiques, artwork, vehicles, tools. They used good judgment in arranging and staging all the items for sale. Their staff was professional, respectful and efficient. They were concerned with the security of the house and its belongings. Whitcomb and Cate were good at dealing with difficult people during the sale. They were honest, transparent, and prompt with respect to financial affairs. We enjoyed good communication.  The house was left empty, with no loose ends left for me to resolve. They were understanding in an emotional time.  Based on my experience with my mother's estate sale, I recommend Whitcomb and Cate without reservation.

 

 Large Collection of Vintage Colgate and soap items. Windsor.

Large Collection of Vintage Colgate and soap items. Windsor.

Candace P.

"Pros: Very Knowledgeable and quickly researches to find age and appropriate pricing, many specific contacts with variety of expertise - art, automobiles, motorcycles, vintage items etc. Compassionate and understanding with family for estate sales. Cons: Sold a household product that needed to be installed. Tim quickly replaced the item. My experience with Whitcomb + Cate: Positive attitude, honesty and likability. That's what I felt from the very beginning and throughout my family's estate sale. They were available immediately for free consultation and quote, and able to schedule the sale within a week's time. My brother's garage was absolutely packed with great tools and his attic filled to the max with anything you could think of. Once the attic and garage were freed up for space, they laid out and grouped specific items and priced. Parts of the backyard were taped off so buyers wouldn't wander where they weren't welcome. Meanwhile the inside of the house was being sorted, tables brought in and items priced. Being very environmentally conscientious, they handled disposal of hazmat items, recyclables and items for donation. They following Wednesday at 5 p.m. the house was empty and broom swept clean. I am amazed at the amount of work they completed in 7 days. They both went out of their way to help me in any way they could, which happened to include a ride to the nearby airport. I am so happy I found Whitcomb & Cate for my brother's estate sale. They took a dreaded task, dug in and went to work, leaving my family feeling a large weight lifted from our shoulders. "

 Sweet back garden that was decorated with statuary and fountains.

Sweet back garden that was decorated with statuary and fountains.

Jim L.

Well, if your situation is anything like mine then you definitely need to read this review. 

I left my wife and three young children on Christmas day and flew 3000 miles to California because my sister was dying. I was grateful to get there for her last few days but after she passed I was suddenly thrust into a situation I had never faced before. I was standing in a three-bedroom home stuffed with things. Some of them were clearly valuable others were not. Some I had no idea as to their worth. So I did what most of you are likely doing right now, I turned to the Internet and began researching estate sale companies. After interviewing several experts in this field it became obvious to me that Whitcomb and Cate were different from the rest. What set them apart, constitutes the entirety of this review.  To put it in a sentence though, I would say that some folks stand apart from others by their willingness to be helpful and Tim Whitcomb and Selena Cate are clearly dominated by the spirit of loving service.  How do I know this?  Well, here's what they did for me.

1. Whitcomb and Cate clearly recognized the difficulty of my situation and the grief I was experiencing. We all know that real empathy can be felt.  I experienced it through their eye contact and communication style.  They seemed more interested in me and my well-being than they did in getting the job. They demonstrated genuine sympathy and compassion throughout our entire relationship.  This compassion even extended to the point where they humbly expressed confusion after I wrote them an email that failed to recognize a significant aspect of our contract. They could have pointed out my gross error easily but instead they asked me to clear up their confusion thus helping me realize my mistake on my own.  Not once did I feel like I was just another job for them.

2. They offered a service that was far superior to their competitors. Not only do they have extensive experience, but they also have a network of experts for determining the value of many different objects.  In my case, there was one object that was looked at by three independent experts before a price was put on it. Ironically, I ended up keeping it because it was so special and they had no problem with that.

3.  Whitcomb and Cate are very negotiable on what can be excluded from the sale, are willing to set reserves on certain items, and even negotiated their commission down for certain high-value items. I was very impressed by this because no other company was willing to do that.

4.  Whitcomb and Cate will tell you the truth even if it's hard to hear.  In my case, learning that my sister's beloved mink and sable coats were almost worthless was a tough one given that I know she paid thousands for them.

5.  Whitcomb and Cate are educators too.  They helped me understand many of the difficulties associated with settling an estate.  For example, I was worried about the tax repercussions associated with the income derived from the sale of all these items. Tim explain to me that this is usually in non-issue due to the fact of depreciation. For the most part items sold at estate sales are sold for significantly less than fair market value. Thus, if you document this, it is easy to demonstrate a capital loss for the IRS.

6. And speaking of documentation, Whitcomb and Cate offer a level of services that none of the others I interviewed do. First of all, they except credit cards. This is a huge advantage as people tend to want to impulse buy at these sales and often do not have enough cash in their pocket. Secondly, they use software that tracks every detail of the sale. At the end of each day I received an itemized report of items sold, for how much they sold, and whether or not they were discounted. I also received a final report at the end of the sale with all categories listed and every item accounted for. Remarkable!

7. Finally, it needs to be said that Whitcomb and Cate went the extra mile at every possible opportunity. They referred me experts for areas outside the scope of the sale, they offered to set up an alter in honor of my sister as part of the sale, they left the house clean and completely empty--ready to be sold.  They donated many of the leftover items to charity. They sorted through rubbish and recycled what should be recycled. They took hazardous chemicals to the appropriate disposal facility on my behalf. They even delivered heavy furniture to people who purchased from the estate sale who did not have the means or ability to get it themselves, and they did this out of the goodness of their hearts.

I believe, as did my sister, that we live in a world where the kind and good people should prevail.  So, if you're like my sister and I, please consider giving your business to Whitcomb and Cate and discover the power of the spirit of loving service and what it can do for you during the challenging times associated with end-of-life.