Auction with Sort

Why Auctions Are the Best Way to Sell Unwanted Estate Items

Losing a loved one or moving them into a long-term care facility or senior living community can not only leave you emotionally drained, it can also leave you with a home full of belongings to deal with. While you and your family may want to keep some things for financial or sentimental reasons, chances are the majority of the belongings will need to be either sold or donated. Out of the numerous ways to sell unwanted items, the safest, easiest and most profitable is an auction.

Auctions are more profitable – As we discussed in a previous post "Are Auctions and Estate Sales the Same Thing?", items tend to sell for a higher price at an auction than an estate sale because bidders start low and drive the price higher instead of seeing a set price and potentially haggling for a lower one. Auctions are also more profitable than yard sales because they reach a larger market and people have several days to bid on items. With a yard sale, you are limited to the people who are available to come during the hours you are open, and when a customer offers you a price, you either have to take it right away or risk not having anyone stopping by who is interested in it.

Auctions are safer – Craigslist is a popular way to sell things and it casts a further net than a yard sale while still staying local enough for you to avoid paying shipping costs in most instances. However, there is the issue of getting the item to the buyer, which involves either them coming to your home to see or purchase what you’re selling, or you meeting them in a neutral place to make the exchange. Both of these options create a potentially dangerous situation. People have posed as potential buyers to gain access to a home, then come back to break in and steal things. This can also occur at yard sales if you have large items that are for sale but are still in your home. With an auction, only the people who have already bid and won items will be coming to the home, and the pickup is staffed by the auction company who is fully insured and bonded. Some auctioneers offer a two-hour or by-appointment-only preview time, which is also fully staffed.

Auction payments are more secure – Unless you sell things on a regular basis, you are probably not set up to accept credit cards, leaving cash or check as the only methods of payment. If you accept a check for a large purchase at a yard sale and it bounces, getting your money will be extremely challenging. And chances are a buyer will not be willing to wait until the check clears to come back to pick up a purchase. Mobile payments like Venmo allow you to take electronic payments, but buyers can cancel the fund transfer after they receive the item and before the money is deposited into your account. Buyers at an auction or online auction use credit cards to pay, making it more likely you will receive the money. Even if they do not pick up their purchases, per the terms and conditions of the auction the auction company can still charge their credit card and you receive the proceeds. The paid-for but unclaimed items are given to charity or you can choose to keep them.

Auctions are easier – Wouldn’t it be nice if someone came in and sorted everything you had to sell, made it available to buyers, handled the payments and purchase pick-up, and gave you the proceeds? That’s how auctions work. No more sorting, pricing, praying for good weather, lugging things outside, haggling over prices, or dealing with strangers. This doesn’t mean you have no control over the sale. You and your family members will decide what you want to keep before anything is put into the auction.

You’re dealing with enough already. Let a licensed auctioneer handle the unwanted items of the estate.

A Little of This and A Little of That

The month of April brought along a busy time for our team and the first project on the calendar was a full house sort/purge/donation pack/auction. I was contacted by the adult daughter, whose mother had recently passed away, and she was left with the home and all the personal content. She needed the house, which her family had lived in for well over 50 years, to be sorted through and cleaned out so she could then get it listed to sell. She wanted to sell, at auction, anything that we could and the purge or donate the rest at our discretion. We had our plan and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Tracy, one of my Team Leads, and myself spent a solid week sorting through this home that held decades of items, some that had not been unearthed in quite some time. We identified the pieces that we could clean up and catalog for the upcoming online auction and we bagged over 30 42-gallon contractor trash bags of items to be purged. We also were able to salvage some of the items that weren't quite auction quality but would still make a good charitable donation. We coordinated with our local charity contacts to get them the items that they could find new homes for and worked with another local service to arrange the garbage pick up. Check out just a few photos of the dramatic before and afters from several areas of the house!

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Bedroom after our work and before auction! 

Bedroom after our work and before auction! 

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement After! We cleared everything out, digging through items that had been boxed for decades!

Basement After! We cleared everything out, digging through items that had been boxed for decades!

After the home was completely cleaned out, other than the items to be sold at auction, we started our cataloging and photographing process to prepare for the online auction. We carefully tagged and inventoried all items and ran the online auction, complete with a preview day and staffed pick up dates. The client was able to make some profit from items in the house, that were no longer needed or wanted, and was also able to have the house completely emptied and ready to be placed up for sale. And all this was done in only a 4 week time period! We had a happy client and were so glad that we were able to help her in what seemed like a very large and overwhelming task, which is our goal with every transition no matter how big or small! 

A few items displayed for the online auction. 

A few items displayed for the online auction.