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Anyone ever held an estate auction?
Old 01-06-2015, 06:15 PM   #1
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Anyone ever held an estate auction?

I am considering an estate auction when we ER this spring as we need to empty a 5bd 6000sq ft house full of stuff. (then sell the house too). I was going to try and ebay/craigslist but have not made any progress on that.

I heard some rumor that you can hire a company who will come in and arrange your stuff then hold a estate auction. I also heard they are sometimes able to sell items you normally would have thought to leave out by the street (hard to believe this but...)

What do you think? Sure would be a lot less headache than having to deal with hundreds of buyers online or in person. I might sell off a few items, like my Addams Family and Twilight Zone pinball machines, and maybe the bigger robots, CO2 and fiber YAG lasers I will not be taking with us in our RV. I can't see bubba at auction paying a lot for a 5KW diode pumped fiber laser...
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:22 PM   #2
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When my stepmom downsized to assisted living one of her daughters listed key items on craigslist - but also held what she called an estate sale - basically a garage sale that expanded into the house. I helped man the sale since we needed folks to watch the garage items when others went into the house to browse furniture and other stuff.

Hiring a company isn't a bad idea. I saw a show on discovery or hgtv or some other cable channel about a woman who did that for a living.

The nice thing about the way my stepsister ran it was that when it was all over - they called a local charity and had everything that didn't sell hauled off.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:27 PM   #3
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When executing my mother's estate (in another country) I cleared out the hous of any personal items and then hired an auctioneer to sell the house and contents. He took furniture to the auction house and it was included in the next furniture auction. The fees were quite a small percentage of the sale price. It was the only practical way for me to deal with this.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:29 PM   #4
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Think they will arrange, advertise, and run the sale for about 1/3 of the take. The stuff tends to go for way less than one would think reasonable (especially when there are garage sale junkies like me running around), a fraction will be lost to theft, and I'd expect the seller would feel violated, especially if they hung around during the sale. OTOH, stuff gets gone....
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:34 PM   #5
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We hired a college kid to help us and we did our own. Cost us $100.

Put ad on an estate sale site and craigs list. They were lined up down the block to get in about an hour before opening. Two days of hard work (well a week actually to get ready) and it was all gone.
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:40 PM   #6
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I go to them. I've never held one. Things sell pretty cheap. You might want to go to some and check out the different estate sale companies in action and see how they do the pricing and negotiating.

I'd suggest putting up pictures on CL and consider listing high value items separately on Craigslist or eBay.
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:39 PM   #7
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Pros of Estate Sale Auction:
Stuff will be gone and you get some cash, no real time commitment from you.

Cons of Estate Sale Auction:
Stuff will sell cheap and you have to pay fees to auction company.

As long as you can accept whatever price you get, it is a good way to clean out in a short time. You could do some yourself, especially the bigger items that have more value and restively easy for you to sell. When my MIL died, my wife's brother had estate sale (aka giant garage sale including stuff in the house). He was so overwhelmed with people and collecting money he made panic calls to other siblings for help! Sale was quite successful in that respect, but also stressful during the process with so many people showing up. A professional company takes that stress away. If you do it yourself, make sure to have several helpers. Remember the point is to get it sold, not get top dollar in estate sale conditions.
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:49 PM   #8
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The family next door had an estate sale when she wanted to move a few years ago... she had high prices and did not sell that much...

Like others, I have heard that a real sale gets very small prices for most of the stuff...

I would contact an auction house that does these things all the time... we have gone to one that is close to us and have bought things for our house from them... if they are good, you have a good number of people there since they combine a lot of estates to sell... the last one that we went to look at was actually model homes... I would say they had at least 10 homes full of stuff to auction off....
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:49 PM   #9
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Yes, it sounds like a possible way to go is to sell everything big (like over $500 items) and then let the other cards fall where they may in an estate sale.

It is a lot of work selling stuff. If I wanted to work, I wouldn't ER
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:08 AM   #10
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It is a lot of work selling stuff. If I wanted to work, I wouldn't ER
I just took a several bags of our decluttering proceeds to a local animal charity today. We got our dog from a local shelter so I am happy to donate to and shop at the local animal rescue thrift shops. You might want to keep that in mind as an option for a portion of your goods.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:27 AM   #11
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Did this many times while managing a bank trust office. It's really the best way to go.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:52 AM   #12
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We had two couples that had an estate sale business come in and do my in-laws house. We took all of the personal items out before the sale and anything "special." These included anything anyone in the family wanted.

It was amazing to me that no one showed any inclination to fight over anything and no one seemed to care that something was so valuable that their eventual share of the estate was being unfairly reduced. My MIL kept saying that she was going to put stickers on things for family members but she never did. She did say at one time that our youngest daughter should get the silver which no one objected to her getting. That was probably the single most valuable collection of stuff since it was solid silver. DW wanted an impressionist style painting that had been in the house since before she could remember. We have done a little research on it and the painter is long dead and has a nominal value for his works. We might be able to get a few thousand for the painting but we both like it. Our kids can deal with it later.

Back to the original topic. The estate sale priced things and I think priced them aggressively for garage sale type sales. They would negotiate somewhat. The men were security along with a local police officer. They described gangs of "shoppers" that would sweep through and pillage a sale if you don't stop them. They put notices in local papers and signs up for advertizing. They told us to stay away or only come for a short time if we came. We showed up and the sale seemed orderly.

After everything was done, much of what was left was donated to Goodwill. They then cleaned the whole house out and filled a dumpster. We got around $700. They took about $300. Other sale receipts were used to pay for the police officer, dumpster and advertizing. It was totally over in two days. They priced things in about 2 hours the day before the sale.

Personally, I think it was a bargain. We looked through all the stuff before we brought them in and I don't think anything really worth much made it to the sale. The silver, crystal and china were not included. The nice clocks and better pieces of furniture were taken by family members.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:15 AM   #13
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I am selling my weekend house and plan to use one of these outfits to clear the place out. It just isn't worth the hassle to deal with disposal.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
Pros of Estate Sale Auction:
Stuff will be gone and you get some cash, no real time commitment from you.

Cons of Estate Sale Auction:
Stuff will sell cheap and you have to pay fees to auction company.

As long as you can accept whatever price you get, it is a good way to clean out in a short time. You could do some yourself, especially the bigger items that have more value and restively easy for you to sell. When my MIL died, my wife's brother had estate sale (aka giant garage sale including stuff in the house). He was so overwhelmed with people and collecting money he made panic calls to other siblings for help! Sale was quite successful in that respect, but also stressful during the process with so many people showing up. A professional company takes that stress away. If you do it yourself, make sure to have several helpers. Remember the point is to get it sold, not get top dollar in estate sale conditions.
+1

My sister, BIL and I did this for my Mother's house, and it worked well for us. The estate auction companies we checked with took 20-30% as their fee for handling everything.

I would also say that the "value" we (owners/heirs) place on things is usually distorted to the high side. And, there's always a lot of emotion involved in letting go of stuff. For us, it was well worth the 30% fee.

PS: After you take the 'special items' (as suggested above by 2B), it's all just "stuff" really.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:17 AM   #15
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Any particular examples of typical selling prices for things or is it all over the place?

Would a Xbox One go for $2? A hardwood pool table for $10?

In the end, perhaps just getting rid of the stuff would be a great relief. I definitely will not let my pinball machines go for $5 as I know I can get $3k each for them on ebay in about 5 minutes.

Do the people at the auction make a mess of your house? We have new carpet in one room which is worth more than the $700 one person mentioned they received from said auction house.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:38 AM   #16
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My DM had an online estate sale using these folks:

http://www.auctionohio.net/

You might want to look at some of their auctions to see what things sell for.

The experience was pretty good. They did all the work. They photographed everything and worked up descriptions. The online auction ran for a week. Everything sold at some price. Pickup went smoothly - about half the folks who bought items were "regulars" according to the cashier.

In this case, nothing was particularly valuable, but some items went for surprising decent prices. Others went for a song but saved us the trouble of hauling them away.

Might be worth looking for something similar in your area. I'd ask local real estate agents for referrals.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:09 AM   #17
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Do the people at the auction make a mess of your house? We have new carpet in one room which is worth more than the $700 one person mentioned they received from said auction house.
The house was left totally empty. The floors were all clean (swept or vacuumed) and the walls were bare. Everything left after the sale was either donated or trashed. We took any item we believed had any particular value or if any family member wanted it. The stuff that was sold was basic garage sale junk. DW and I didn't think we could have gotten anywhere near what we got if we did it ourselves. The people that did it were well worth their share.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:26 AM   #18
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When Dad passed away last year DS and I decided the easiest thing to do was have an estate auction. We both lived in different states so we could not deal with trying to sell individual items via ebay or Craigslist. DS and I first went thru the house and took anything we didn't want to be auctioned. We asked around town and got the name of a local auctioneer that would come in and haul all the house contents to the local convention center, stage it, and take care of advertising, etc. I think his fee was 15% of all proceeds and I can tell you he earned every penny. The fee would have been only 12% of the total proceeds if he would have conducted the auction in the home. It was a very good decision to hold the auction at the convention center because there was a huge number of people that attended the auction. There would be no way to cram that number of people in our house and there was no worry about the weather conditions.

The bad part of selling items piecemeal is what to do with the items that you can't sell. The nice part about the auction is that everything sells. Note: our auctioneer does not sell clothes, food, books or magazines so those can be donated.

What did he sell that I would probably thrown away......
open bottles of liquor
cans of used nuts and bolts
any and all scrap metal
used mattresses
used lumber
ammunition
cans of rusty nails
and much, much more

what about the prices?
washer/dryer set that was about 10 years old sold for $500
a very nice Brunswick slate top pool table sold for $300
there were three king size beds and mattresses. The first sold for $300 and the other two sold for $45 each
a curio cabinet the original cost $1,000 sold for $180 which was disappointing
three cast iron door stops in the shape of a pointer dog sold for $200, $205. and $195
There was a lot of small cast iron pieces that brought very good money.
Very nice leather couch sold for $300 and matching recliner chairs sold for about $150 each.
Used hand and power tools sold for reasonable prices.

After the auction was complete the auctioneer brought out a complete list of each transaction so you could see what the final selling price was for each lot. Sometimes when they grouped small items together it was impossible to tell exactly what was sold for the prices listed. Of course the big items you could tie the selling price to it.

The sale took 9 hours and for the first couple of hours that actually had two auctioneers selling at the same time.

Going the estate auction route was the best option for us.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:37 AM   #19
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Wow, those are better prices than I would have expected (a little low on the pool table though if it is like ours, which IIRC was about $4000 new and is in pristine shape)

We have some really weird stuff, like a 13 foot mounted sailfish, African animal skins, giant loom, ceramic pouring table + kiln, lots of neon beer signs, scores of theater lighting and controllers, dozens and dozens of power tools (even after I pick through what I can fit in our camper's garage).

I was afraid I would end up putting it all out by the street with a free sign, but this auction is sounding reasonable.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:38 AM   #20
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... and maybe the bigger robots, CO2 and fiber YAG lasers...5KW diode pumped fiber laser...
Thou shall not covet...

I'm having trouble with this particular commandment at the moment!

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