Selling your belongings with an auction house or estate sale

Created date

March 21st, 2019
On the left, hands hold up Bidding signs. On the right, an auctioneer bangs a gavel.

Selling your belongings with an auction house or estate sale is a real option if you know what you're doing. See these helpful hints for more!

There’s no denying our possessions can hold a great deal of sentimental value. However, if you believe the items you’ve collected over the years have monetary value as well, you may wish to consider selling them through an auction house or estate sale. In this month’s column, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of these two options and share my tips for determining which, if either, is right for you.

Estate sales vs. auctions

Before we delve into the pros and cons, it’s important to understand the difference between these two options. Let’s start with an estate sale. I like to compare this option to a garage sale that takes place inside your home. You can hire a professional company to merchandise the items in your house and advertise the sale, which usually takes place during the weekend and is open to the public. At an auction, on the other hand, your items are transported to an auction house where buyers can bid on them. Typically, the highest offer wins.

Parsing the pros and cons

An auction is usually reserved for items of great value, such as art, furnishings, or certain collectables that are more valuable when sold as a single collection. An auction can free you from the uncertainty of pricing and selling items on your own, but it’s important to set expectations. There’s always a risk that your item may not sell at the price you expected or at all.

In contrast, an estate sale is a great way to downsize and sell a large volume of items at once. Typically, an estate sale requires a greater time commitment. It also comes with the disruption of strangers wandering through your house. Whenever possible, I advise my clients to hold an estate sale after they’ve moved. This way, you can enjoy the rewards of the sale without the stress.

Get an expert opinion

The best way to determine if an estate sale or auction is right for you is to talk with your Erickson Living personal moving consultant. My colleagues and I can come right to your door for a home visit and an initial assessment. We’ll happily connect you with reputable and experienced professionals who can help you value and sell your items.

Both auction houses and estate sale services typically collect a portion of your proceeds, so be sure you understand the fees and terms before you make any decisions.

What items should I sell?

After all this talk about how to sell your belongings, you’re probably wondering what items to sell. At the moment, mid-century modern furniture and décor are extremely popular. Unfortunately, items like china, heavy furniture, and collectables like Hummel and Lladró are less so. However, you won’t know the value of your belongings until you get a professional opinion.

Ultimately, the real value is in your house itself, not what’s inside it. If you’re going to invest your time or money, invest it in getting the best return for your house. Your Erickson Living personal moving consultant can recommend trusted real estate agents, home stagers, and others who can help.