When it’s time to downsize a home, people often turn to the professionals to sell their belongings rather than holding yard sales or trying to sell things on eBay or Craigslist. Auctions and estate sales (also called tag sales) are both ways to eliminate household goods and make a profit, and may seem very similar. But they are actually quite different.
Auctioneers are more accountable because they must be licensed in Kentucky to run live or online auctions and are held to a Code of Ethics. Their license number has to be readily available at any auction, and an address for complaints must be included in their contracts. Before a Kentucky auctioneer can be licensed, they must apprentice under a sponsoring auctioneer for one year, take 96 hours of classes, and pass two exams. All of this training benefits you because your sale is being handled by an educated, trustworthy person, This means they will help you get the most income for the items you are selling, and that you have a clear path to resolving an issue should one arise.
Estate sale companies aren’t licensed or regulated in any way, which means anyone can market themselves as an estate sale professional, even if they have had no training. Does that mean all estate companies are run by inexperienced people? Of course not. But they are out there, and if you have a complaint it can be much more difficult to get a resolution.
Another difference is the way your items will be priced. At tag sales, a price is marked on each item before the sale begins, which leaves nowhere for the price to go but down. Most people view estate sales as organized garage sales and haggle over the prices marked. Buyers will also often wait until the second or third day of the sale to buy because prices are reduced after the first day.
Prices start low at auctions and continue to climb based on demand. Some items that may not have seemed valuable can end up selling at a higher price if two or more bidders are interested. This means that as the auction progresses, your profit on each item increases, while with an estate sale, your profit on items decreases as day two and three approach.
At an auction, items that aren’t selling individually can be grouped together to make them more attractive to buyers. Estate sale items have already been priced and can’t be regrouped to increase their chances of being sold. Also, leftover items at estate sales often become the property of the company, so they can sell them at their next sale and not owe you any proceeds. This gives estate sales managers less incentive to get everything sold for you. If you are signing up to do an estate sale and don’t want them to take the leftover items, make sure you read the contract carefully.
A benefit to buyers at an auction is the ability to preview items for at least 12 hours before it starts. At a tag sale the selling starts as soon as people walk through the door, so buyers have to make quick decisions before someone else buys what they want. This may not seem important to you as a seller, but it actually is because your buyers won’t be rushing through your items to make sure they don’t miss out. Instead, they’ll have time to think about each one and may end up buying more.
The most important thing when hiring someone to help you sell your belongings is to find someone you are comfortable with and that you can trust. Ask friends or family members for referrals, take the time to get to know the people you’ll be working with, and understand exactly how your belongings will be sold.