Estate Sale or Auction: Which is Better?

by Drew Barton

Are you moving or downsizing and wondering what to do with all your stuff? Estate sales and auctions are two of the best options for getting rid of the contents of a home quickly and easily.

But which is better?

It depends on your situation, but this is what you need to know to figure out which is best for you.

Auctions vs. estate sales

Selling your things at auction means accepting that they could be sold at wholesale prices. This is often about half of the retail price, so you might get much less than what items are actually worth.

Estate sales are typically more profitable because items are often sold at higher prices because they've been cleaned and appraised by a professional.

Advantages of auctions

  • Auctions are quick. Many auctions move at a pace of two items per minute, so you could quite easily sell the contents of a home within a day. The fast pace works in your favor if you need to get rid of stuff quickly.
  • Apart from the people who come by to collect the items, you won’t have to let strangers roam through your home. Most auctions occur off the seller's property.

Advantages of estate sales

  • Getting more money for your items is the biggest advantage of having an estate sale. Although buyers are looking for bargains, items can be priced according to current market value, so they will sell for much more than they would at an auction.
  • Estate sales also happen quite quickly. An estate sale typically takes three weeks to wrap up. The actual sale is between one to three days (potentially two weekends if the property is large) and the buyout stage takes about two weeks.
  • Estate sale companies usually offer services for taking care of items that don’t sell. Serendipity’s customers can put leftover goods on consignment and sell them through our showroom. The consignment period is 90 days beyond the estate sale.

So, which is better?

It really comes down to time and money. Both options have advantages, so which one is best for you depends on how much time you have and how much you are willing to sell things for.

If you are okay with accepting less to get things done faster, an auction is a solid option. However, if you want to get the greatest possible value for your possessions and can wait a few weeks, an estate sale is the better option.

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