Selling Off an Estate

I am interested in hearing advice, experiences, tips on what is the best way to go about selling the contents of an estate. My husband and I have inherited a family home which itself is in run down condition, but the contents are antiques. We have heard negative things about auction houses and estate dealers. How do we go about finding the value of items?


It seems like a horrendous job. A friend offered to help sell things on Ebay. What would be a fair percentage to offer for this service? We really need to make the best profit but don't know which direction to go. Would appreciate hearing from others who have experience and have had success. Thank you.

March 26, 20080 found this helpful

Sometimes the bad thing about getting unknown folks to help sell an estate is that most people coming to buy the antiques and collectables will be wanting to buy things to resale. A hard thing to admit is these folks do this all the time. It isn't a bad thing if done right, as long as you get an honest price for the items. Do not sell your items to somebody telling you your items are worth nothing but just to help out he'll give you x amount of dollars for everything just to get it off your hands and haul it away. These folks are like buzzards and will turn around and sell your stuff for unbelievable amounts to dealers and even resale it in their own shops or malls. You should be the one to profit. An honest Estate Dealer will charge you at least 30 to 35 per cent plus expenses for selling your items unless it is just a few items, then 50 per cent would be more likely a good price. Often times if you do this job yourselves, you can lose a fortune by underpricing some things, and not selling others by overpricing. Ebay is a great place to see what things did sell for, but better to look at other estate sales and antique markets to see what things are going for in your area. A close friend that has gone through this will also be somebody good to listen to. Local lawyers should also be able to recommend someone. I've done sales for years and have seen a lot of slick folks trying to run away with Uncle Ned's lifetime of possesions. Let a professional help you and follow their guidelines for a peaceful fast way to move the items quickly. If you've done your homework, you shall have good memories about the people coming to shop.

Good luck!

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

We had very good luck with a local auction company that came in and sold the contents of my husband's grandmother's house. They do the preparation. Sometimes things need to be washed and pressed, etc. But this is the way to go as its not drawn out.

Our local business that will take things and sell them for you on Ebay gets 30 percent of the profit. This might be a guideline in case you choose to do that. But I dont recommend it. Its a LOT of work.

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

I work for an auction company in Tennessee and an honest one at that. So you can find good ones, the best way is word of mouth. Perhaps you could attend 2 or 3 different auction houses and see who you like and hear what people have to say about them.

Antiques usually do better at auction than at yard sale type estate sales.

I wish you the best.


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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

I've been involved in the settlement of five estates. Your options really depend on how much time and energy you have. Personally I'd go with a local, reputable auction house. A well-advertised auction might not bring you top dollar on every single item, but at the end of the day, the house will be cleared out and one giant step closer to being ready to sell. Attorneys who handle estate work should be able to direct you to an honest auctioneer. They are regulated and licensed in most states that I know of, and all the ones I've worked with did a good job and earned the percentage they were paid.

One estate I settled had only a few nice antique items, which I sold to a local dealer. I then contracted with a service which gave me a single, set price for everything else that was in the house--from decent used furniture to appliances to stuff that was just junk. I met them and let them in in the morning and came back in the afternoon to an empty house and cash money in the amount we'd agreed on. At that point, since I was living out of town and on leave from a demanding job, I couldn't have been happier.

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

There are many businesses doing eBay listings for profit. You could get a quote and then have your friend do it for that amount of money? Look around on eBay to see what similar items are selling for, that's the best tip I could give you.

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

Hi I buy allot at both estate sales and yard sale and thought I could offer my experience on this. I have been both a seller and a buyer at auctions, and on the buying side I want it as cheap as I can get it. On the selling side I want to sell for as much as I can. This is human. Everybody does it and it isn't personal, so if you have the time investigate your pricing in your area.

Our local auction charges 20 seller fee and no buyers fee and others in the area charge 20 percent sellers fee and 10 percent buyers fee. The reason this works well is because it separates the the buys. If I'm willing to split the cost and pay 10 percent the auctioneer is letting me know that this is good quality merchandise and if I want it, I have to buy it at a fair wholesale market value.

I bid what I can afford if others bid higher they may have a better selling market on that item. but i do want to bring up a good price you can cut out the middle man buy advertising an estate sale in your local news paper and setting up a time say 8am thru 10 am for local dealers to give them first dibbs and now you have room to negotiate your price because you aren't paying 20-50 sellers fee to the auction house. I do wish you great wealth from your sale and god bless.

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March 27, 20080 found this helpful

AUCTION is way to go. This was in Durant OK.

When I had to put my mother into assisted living being out of state, we relied on the two women that worked for her to give some recommendation ... then we did some research.

We had the entire contents auctioned. I was very impressed with the professional way it was handled; he was a country boy in bib overalls and was well thought of in the community. He advertised the upcoming AUCTION and also had a following. Very knowledgeable of pricing and knew his percentage was based on the selling prices.

We paid 10% fee to him. Absolutely everything was sold at very good prices! I put the house on the market with a Realtor to coincide with the day of the auction. The house and entire contents sold the same day.

Wow, I was really impressed. I would highly recommend an AUCTION ... be sure to do the research of checking them out.

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March 28, 20080 found this helpful

Not to discourage, as I am sure there are all sorts of auction services, but I had my grandmother's estate auctioned off and affiliates of the auction house bought her things,marked them up and put them up for sale in their store right next door - I had to walk by it every day and felt ill at the loss.

I would have been better off holding an 'Estate Sale' at her home and doing research on the value of the items myself to get a fair price. I was young and naive. If you have access to a reputable auction service you might fare better than I did.

I can't see the harm in putting a few choice items on ebay, as the exposure is vast. I would simply ask your friend what percentage they would consider fair for helping you and go from there. Perhaps they could help you learn to do eBay yourself. All the best in your efforts.

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March 28, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you much to all of you who have answered my request for assistance. I appreciate every response and have recieved lots of helpful information. Now I have plenty to think over and some directions to try. Again, thanks.

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