When individuals make the decision to liquidate or downsize their assets, it can be a difficult and emotional process. They may be dealing with the sale of a home, handling a family inheritance or making a lifestyle change. While items such as furniture, antiques and jewelry often hold treasured memories, they may also hold hidden value. Estate auctions are the simplest, most transparent and most profitable way to connect sellers with the right buyers. According to the National Auctioneers Association, over a quarter-trillion dollars in goods and services are sold at auction every year in the U.S. With live and online bidding platforms, auctions attract attentive buyers who enjoy the excitement of aggressively competing to acquire something exceptional. “There are few options for liquidating the contents of a property,” said Don Schireson, CEO of Abell Auction Co., a Los Angeles-based, century-old auction house handling fine estates and collections. “A well-advertised auction with a reputable firm is the easiest and most cost-effective way to find a place for personal belongings. By selling at auction, rather than hosting a house sale, items are exposed to a larger and better informed audience, which leads to higher prices from competitive bidding.” Many people believe the terms “estate sale” and “estate auction” are interchangeable. However, there are significant differences. There are many stories about bargain hunters who purchase an item at a yard sale for a few dollars, only to discover that it is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. While this type of mistake can easily happen at an estate sale, it is very unlikely to happen at an estate auction.
Auctions attract an international audience
At public auction, personal property is marketed to a global audience of consumers who participate in a competitive process by placing bids in-person, online or via telephone. Prices are negotiated upward, delivering fair market value or higher to the seller. For example, Abell Auction Co. offers weekly general auctions and quarterly fine art and antique sales that have drawn bids from over 40 countries. Most auction houses have set times for exhibition, allowing potential buyers to examine and preview items days prior to sale. Estate auctions and sales are both used to dispose of property owned by someone who is either moving out of a home or deceased. However, estate sales usually take place over a weekend, which limits the event to neighbors and friends rather than educated buyers. At an estate sale, the early bird gets the worm. Since consumers who arrive first get their choice of merchandise, items often sell at lower than market value. In addition, valuable items are often priced too low or misidentified by individuals who lack experience dealing with fine art, jewelry, antiques and other important furnishings.
Auctions are operated by professionals
Reputable auction companies are licensed or bonded, and follow a strict code of ethics. Professional auctioneers have years of experience and an extensive educational background in the industry. They come equipped with a full team of specialists to handle every need. “We provide tailored and complete services to those who choose to sell their personal property through Abell,” Schireson said. “Our staff includes accredited appraisers, jewelry and gem experts, and even translators to assist our international clients.” Estate sales are often operated by representatives who are eager to accept the first offer, collect a large commission and augment the sale with their own items. Many are resale dealers who bring a certain level of expertise, but have a conflict of interest in setting prices. For example, a dealer may quietly sell merchandise to friends or associates at reduced prices so they can realize their true value elsewhere.
Auctions are preferred by fiduciaries
Auction transactions are open and transparent, with accredited appraisals and a detailed accounting accepted by all courts and the Internal Revenue Service. Competitive bidding by educated buyers achieves the highest price. For these reasons, they are generally the preferred method of liquidating assets for executors, trustees and attorneys seeking to protect their clients’ best interests, as well as for family fiduciaries. While an auction house is an established place of business, estate sale operators are not regulated by any state or local entity. The sales process is closed to the both buyer and seller, and no record-keeping is required. “Unlike estate sales where strangers enter your home, Abell professionally removes all contents and delivers them to our secure auction gallery where they are carefully inventoried and catalogued,” said Schireson. “We hold our clients and their privacy in the highest regard. We also carry all insurance, so there are no worries about liability issues.”
Auctions are well-marketed
An established auction company expends great effort marketing assets through a combination of strategies, including both print and digital media. Consumers, ranging from individuals to private collectors and dealers, have the opportunity to preview items days or weeks in advance. Exposing valuable assets to a wider audience leads to higher returns. Most estate sale companies perform very limited advertising, marketing valuable assets to only a handful of neighbors and friends. At the end of the day, leftover items are usually discarded, donated to charity or sold at bulk prices without proper appraisals.
Why Sell at Auction? At auction, the marketplace sets the value.
- Auction items are exposed to a larger and more informed audience, drawing the highest price.
- Items are often priced incorrectly at an estate sale, selling for less than their value or not at all.
Auctions market and sell on an international stage.
- Auctions attract an audience of live and international buyers.
- Estate sales are generally attended by only a few favored dealers, friends and neighbors.
Auctions allow time for prospective buyers to preview and plan their strategy.
- Buyers can preview auctions from a day to weeks in advance.
- At estate sales, only friends of the organizer can preview.
Auction transactions are transparent with detailed record-keeping.
- An auction house is a bonded business subject to all local and state laws and taxation.
- Estate sale organizers are not regulated by any local or state entity.
When the auction is finished, everything is sold.
- Auctions are an open and transparent process, with accredited appraisals and a detailed accounting accepted by all courts and the IRS.
- Unsold estate sale items are usually donated or sold to a liquidator for a bulk price.
Understanding the auction process
Many times, individuals who are liquidating an estate face difficult circumstances and have limited time. It’s important to select an auction house that will professionally handle the entire contents of a home, ranging from every day household items to personal collections. “Unlike other auction companies who only accept certain items, Abell removes all belongings from a home to make life easier for our clients,” said Schireson. “By offering two types of auctions, we reach a larger audience of buyers. Our weekly sales feature the general contents of a home, while our quarterly auctions feature fine art, jewelry, antiques and important 20th century design. “ Once you’ve selected a reputable auction company, a specialist will meet with you personally to preview your estate, discuss your desires, and answer questions about the auction process and the property being sold. Estimates of higher-end items will be provided based on the current market and past auction records. When it comes to the terms of sale, consignors are required to pay the auction house a commission or sellers fee. This percentage should be significantly lower than what is charged by an estate sale company, especially on higher end items. “Individuals should select an auction house that is committed to handling your estate professionally, with the highest levels of integrity and transparency, and without charging extra hidden fees,” advised Schireson. “For example, we do not charge extra feels for photography or insurance.” After a seller’s agreement is signed, the auction company will quickly and professionally remove personal belongings from your home. This can usually be accomplished in one day. After being delivered to the auction gallery, items will be inventoried and catalogued. Soon after the auction, the seller will receive payment and an itemized settlement for estate-related purposes. Finally, a top auction house recognizes marketing as an important step in the process to connect the right buyers with the right sellers. “Our auctions are heavily promoted through professionally designed direct mail, targeted print and online advertisements, and postings on the Abell and affiliate websites,” said Schireson. “Located in the nation’s second largest market, our sales draw serious collectors from around the world.” While finding a place for the contents of an estate can seem overwhelming at first, a well-advertised auction with a professional auction house is the optimal and most cost-effective choice. The right company will handle every detail with sensitivity, privacy and professionalism, while serving the seller’s best interests. Joe Baratta is Vice President of Business Development at Abell Auction Co., Los Angeles’ first permanent auction house handling fine estates and collections. Founded in 1916, its weekly general and quarterly fine art and antiques auctions draw an international audience of live and online bidders.
Abell Auction Co. – A century of trust, experience and global relationships
Abell Auction Co. was Los Angeles’ first permanent auction house showcasing fine estates and collections, a tradition that continues today. Celebrating its 100th anniversary, the company’s weekly general auctions and quarterly fine art and antique sales attract an international audience of consumers. Abell’s weekly general auctions are held on Thursdays at 9 a.m. They feature over 1,000 unique items including fine and decorative art, modern and antique furnishings, and jewelry. Private buyers, decorators, dealers and designers experience the excitement of a live auction and acquiring something exceptional. Abell’s cataloged fine art and antique auctions are held quarterly. They feature fine art, antique furniture, fine jewelry and quality 20th century design, attracting live and international bidders who compete for record prices. Located in the nation’s second largest market, the sales draw serious collectors from around the world. Abell’s team of professionals includes accredited appraisers, jewelry and gem experts, and Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking translators to accommodate its international clientele. Now in its fourth generation and still family-operated, Abell has been entrusted with estates and consignments throughout Southern California since 1916. Its gallery is located at 2613 Yates. Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90040.
For more information, call 310.858.3073 or visit www.abell.com.
- 100 years as Southern California’s premier auction gallery
- Professional appraisers and specialists
- Highly personal and tailored services
- International audience of buyers
- Maximum value for personal property
- Absolute privacy and confidentiality