How do estate auctions work?

Yesterday I gave several reasons why selling an estate at auction might be a good idea. However, many people wonder about the process. Having an estate auction isn’t something people do often in their lifetimes so it’s normal to be curious about the process. Since auctioneers might approach this differently, let me explain the typical process I go through for an on-site auction.

When someone calls with an estate to sell I will make an appointment to see it. At that time I can determine if they have enough to have an on-site sale or if it is a smaller estate that will need more items to draw the interest of a crowd. This is also the time to discuss with the seller if they want to have the auction on-site or if they would prefer to take it to my auction building. One family had more than enough for a great auction but did not want people in their home so the auction was held at my site.

As we look at what will be selling I make a list of the major items. After viewing everything the seller and I discuss the options and terms of the sale. If they agree to have me conduct the auction we sign the contract, and I begin taking pictures of what will be selling. These pictures will later be posted online with my auction ad.

At that point my team and I handle everything necessary for the sale. I create the advertising for both online and newspaper. The online marketing is normally done about three weeks prior to the auction to attract as many people as possible. Newspaper ads run two weeks prior to the auction and the day before the auction. Flyers are printed and mailed out to the people on my mailing list. If there are specialty items being sold I contact persons I know who collect those items to tell them about the sale. I place a large sign on the property, if the sale will be on-site, about 7-10 days prior to the sale.

One week before the sale we begin setting up for the auction. Smaller, inexpensive items are grouped together in flats or box lots. Larger items that will be sold individually are gathered together to be placed on wagons or tables. We go through all the drawers of the furniture to make sure nothing is overlooked. If the sale involves a vehicle we gather the information about that vehicle that people want to know and ask the seller to have it detailed, if possible, to attract greater interest. With few exceptions, clean items will sell better than dirty items. The exception sometimes is primitive and some antiques. Directional signs are posted to help people find the auction.

On the day of the sale we arrive early to set everything up. Large items are placed on tables or wagons and set up to sell in a certain order. Flats and box lots are in secondary spots to be sold at the end of the sale. Our cashier arrives to pass out bid numbers. Food service people arrive to provide food for the auction. If parking assistance is needed our staff directs parking. Finally, at the set time the sale begins.

After the sale we gather up our tables and other items and everyone leaves. The next morning I do the paperwork, deposit the proceeds of the sale in my escrow account, and by the end of the next week send the seller the proceeds of the sale less expenses with a copy of the Final Settlement sheet.

As you can see, we are well designed to handle your estate auction. Once you sign the contract we will handle just about everything needed for a good auction. As I said in yesterday’s post, you don’t even have to be at the sale. In fact, if it is going to be difficult emotionally I recommend you don’t attend. Auctions are designed to make it easy for the seller especially since this can be a difficult time for the sellers who need to dispose of the estate.

Please contact me if you feel that we might be able to help you sell your estate or if you have quality items you would like to sale at my next consignment auction.

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