An estate sale is not always an auction.

March 02, 2016

At Next Chapter Estate Sales and Household Transitions, we are often asked when we can do the auction. Of course, we understand that in many cases the connection our customers have to converting household items to cash has been through an auction. (We also communicate all our sales as “estate sales” even though many of them are more about downsizing than liquidation of an estate due to loss of a loved one. But, that is a different post!)

How are estate sales and auctions different? The obvious difference is that an auction involves an auctioneer and an estate sale does not. At Next Chapter, we explain that an estate sale takes the house and converts it into a “retail store,” of sorts. Each room in the house becomes its own “boutique.” Customers are invited to visit the rooms as they would browse in a store before they visit the cashier area and bag their treasures.

When we begin to merchandise the house, the first step is to determine how many household goods we have of a particular type and the amount of space that might be needed to properly display it. For example, Next Chapter did one sale where the entire garage was needed just for Christmas décor. (We sold some beautiful stuff!) We use different types of merchandise display materials, such as folding tables, to create a pleasing presentation of the household items. Yes, presentation is everything! In some cases, we bring in tables or we use everything from pieces of furniture to doors placed on sawhorses. When the staging, merchandising and pricing is completed, the house looks and feels like a store.

As a “retail store,” an estate sale does honor the household items a little more than an auction and allows the client to command a higher price. (It’s more retail than wholesale in some ways.) Although everything doesn’t always sell, what does sell usually captures a higher price point. It all goes back to how the household items are merchandised and presented.

After we explain the difference between auctions and estate sales to our clients, they seem to have a little less trepidation about the sale and seem less emotional about it. They understand that in general an estate sale treats the treasured items with a little more respect, which may make it a little easier to let things go.