Estate Sales Or Auctions? What Is The Difference?

Estate Sale signauctionEstate sales and auctions have been a method of disposing of the contents of personal property for many years, however, many companies offer both methods. They can also be used to liquidate commercial contents as well.

Let’s discuss the difference.

An estate sale is where a seller(s), heir, attorney, or family hires an estate sale company to come in, sort through the personal property, set it up on various tables, shelves etc. and price most if not all the items to be sold. The person or persons requesting the sale will pay the estate sale company a portion of the gross proceeds of the sale (commission usually). The sale is advertised for specific dates and times and when the door opens to the property or location of the sale the items have a specific price on them. The buyers do not pay a commission or fee to the estate sale company. Although the buyer may leave a lower price offer (bid) for items, it is at the company’s and seller’s discretion whether to consider or accept the bid(s).

Auctions have been around for hundreds of years, however, it is an entirely different method of selling. An auction can take place on the property or at an off site location. The best way to describe an auction comes from Wikipedia. “A process of buying or selling goods or services by offering them up for bids, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder”. Some auctions do contain reserves (a set price, usually by the sellers) which is the minimum acceptable. Auctions usually charge the seller(s) a percentage of the sales and many also charge a buyers premium (a percentage of the cost of the item purchased).

Estate auctions have been used for years in rural America to dispose of the contents of an estate and in more recent times used in metropolitan areas, particularly if the estate contains high value items or the sale of the contents cannot take place on site.

Some confusion exists these days because most websites that were originally for listing estate sales now list auctions and online auctions, however, they still retain the phrase “estate sale”.

Depending on the area, circumstances, and property to be sold, sellers need to choose which method works best for them. Either method can bring financial success. Understanding the difference though is important.

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