Friday, April 1, 2016

How to prepare for an Estate Sale or Auction

   We here at Have Gavel will Travel conduct estate auctions, they are similar to estate sales as they are conducted in  house, but we prefer the auction format.  For a list of reasons we have another blog post or see our website.  Many times I speak with family members who want to sell, but want to know how to get ready.  With every company is different, but these are some steps for an ideal sale for us.

  1.  Know what you are selling.  Every situation is different, but I often meet with families that say my brother thinks he wants this, or my daughter wants to look first.  I make my living selling items, I can't make a fair proposal without knowing the scope of what I'm selling.

 2.  We are Estate Liquidators, not clean up professionals.  If you sell pieces before you call me, or try to have your own estate sale, it will be a tough sale.  We need those good or great pieces to have a profitable sale, if they are not their, many big money buyers will not come.  The main reason I turn down sales is lack if saleable items, and the main cause is selling the cream to "save" paying someone to do it.

3.  Stop throwing stuff away.   I cannot tell you how many times a family member has thrown away pieces of junk, only to find out it was worth money.  I once pulled a motor out a scrap pile during set up, only to have it sell for $1400!  There will be items that need disposed of, it's generally better for everyone if you allow us to make those decisions. 

4.  We are not going to use your help setting up.  Me and my time can set up a typical house in under a week.  That's because we have a different point of view than you.  I often ask the family not be there during set up, it slows the process down.

So this is a guide to help answer some questions, if you are looking to have an Estate Sale or Estate Auction in St Louis area, feel free to give us a call for a no obligation consultation. 

Walter Holt
Owner / Auctioneer Have Gavel Will Travel
(314) 517-4013

Monday, March 28, 2016

Selling a Hoard

  For the second time this year we are selling personal property that belonged to a hoarder, these are always difficult to judge and execute and expectations on both mine and the families side are rarely met.  The family is often distraught with the thought of getting rid of a loved ones most prized possessions, and the thought of what is under all the stuff.   I rarely use the word hoarder due to its negative connotation, but by any name it is what it is.  

    Often I find one spouse outlived the other and stayed in the same home, as the days went on the house felt emptier and they began filling it with things that provided momentary happiness.  Often with these you will find multiple new in box items they bought and put in the home, never taking out of the box.   Another common one is childhood poverty, my grandparents were the children of sharecroppers in rural Arkansan.  My grandmother and her family often ate one meal a day at the end of winter, because there was not enough food to last all winter.  When I was a child she and my grandfather had 2 large chest freezers full, 1 upright freezer full and 2 refrigerators completely full, plus store bought and home canned food. 

We here at Have Gavel will Travel conduct these types of sales in one of two ways or often a combinations of both.

Bedroom on the third floor
1.  Dig it out and sell it by the room, this is the quick but often painful way to sell.  If there is hundreds of items of little or no value it is often the only way to sell.  Often times there is not enough value in the home to justify the labor to remove and stage the items inside.  We will do a search through the rooms looking for treasures and sell the balance on sale day.   There are buyers who love to buy this kind of volume and will aggressively bid, these types of sales typically do not draw a casual buyer.

2.  Drag it all out in boxes and sell like a farm sale, this one is super labor intensive, but if the value is there it can be justifiable.  The labor involved escalates quickly and you have to know when to say good enough.  Even if we moved the home out, we typically leave shelves and cabinets full.  There will be buyers who like to buy this volume also.  We often spend days or weeks looking through and boxing items, trying to identify the treasures from the stuff.

So as we look to put another packed house sale on the books, I hope this provides some insight to how we sell these packed houses.  If you find yourself with a hoard to sell in the St Louis area feel free to contact us.  Walt

Walter Holt
Owner Operator Have Gavel Will Travel
(314) 517-4013

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to choose an Auctioneer or Estate Sale Company

Picking an Estate Liquidator, which both Estate Sale companies and Auctioneers are, is a tough decision.  I am definitely biased, but I am going to cover some key questions to ask, if you are looking to sell an estate or collection.
Most people at some point in their  lives are forced to make a decision on how to liquidate an estate. 
The most common and typically there hardest is the passing ( or moving to an assisted living) of a loved one or family member.   So the children or other trusted family member is asked to execute the estate, and find them selves with a house full of stuff and some tough decisions to make.  Here a few criteria  and questions I would ask when interviewing an Estate Liquidator.
1.  Do you feel comfortable with the person?
You are asking this company to sell for you, and at the end of the day they work for you.  Do you get a feeling of  honesty and integrity?  Do they have any reviews anywhere online?  You don't have to love them, but you should feel they are someone working in your best interest.
2.  What is your fee structure?
Everyone has a different fee structure.  We typically work on a Flat percentage of Gross as long as we don't have to move or rent a hall.  This percent covers all expenses except clean out if required.  But other companies charge all or part of the labor, do you have to pay money upfront, is their a buyers premium.  Are you required to pay advertising?  Tables? Credit Card Fees?  Lot Fees?  If your asked to pay these will your sale still be profitable?  I have another Blog about fees to read for more info.
3.  What happens to the stuff left?
No matter which path you choose, there is stuff left.  Who is responsible for it?  We at Have Gavel Will Travel will offer to hire a crew for you to clean out the residence, we have a crew that we feel comfortable with that does this pretty reasonably.  Some companies include this as part of their fees, some don't address at all.  

4.  Is this company insured?
This is a non negotiable  anymore.  Your homeowner may or may not cover any injuries or accidents, so who ends up responsible.  $1 million dollars of coverage is fairly affordable and any estate liquidation company should carry it.

If I was going to sell an Estate these are the  a few of the questions I would start with. 

Walter Holt
Owner Operator Have Gavel Will Travel (hgwtllc)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Auction Hits and Misses

Times change and so do tastes, items that were popular years ago have faded away.  
When I first started out buying and selling, my father in law would go to auctions with me.   He was an antique dealer and did shows around Indiana and Illinois  in the 80's and 90's.   He used to go crazy, because I would drop out early on oak furniture and glass ware.  He couldn't understand how I would let those pieces go.  It took him about 10 auctions to figure out I wasn't the only one.
 Some things do well auctions and some don't, many people bought amazing things throughout their lives and feel it should be worth the same amount today.  There is a market for everything if the price is right, and many times people see an item that's the exception as the rule.  
As I look around my house and think of what I have and what my grandparent had I can see the difference.  I don't really collect anything, I like primitives like shipping crates and jars, but don't decorate my house with them.  We have a formal dining room, that we don't use ( in fact it was an office for over a year and I have been married for 13 years and we used our wedding dishes once).  Our house has 4 bedrooms, and I use one as an office.  People who are building their homes now are very different than a generation ago.  This has lead to a huge supply and demand swing for many items.  
Here are some examples that generally have minimal value.
Anything marked Avon 
Beanie Babies ( I know you saw in FaceBook that one sold for $350,000 and it did), these fell out of favor in the late 90's and vast majority were never valuable.
Vintage dining room sets,
80's or 90's baseball cards
Formal China
Collectors plates, and tea cups.

And a few hot items
Early comics and baseball cards.
Mid Century Modern Furniture and lighting.
Gas and Oil signs
Pyrex Bowls
Wood Boxes and shipping crates
Good tools

Obviously this is not an all inclusive list, and every auction is different. 
If you are looking to hold an auction be sure to hire a professional, and they will help you understand what you have and what it should be worth. 

Walter Holt Owner operator Have Gavel Will Travel (HGWTllc)
Auctioneer St Louis, Mo area
Auction Fee Structures

      Nine out of ten times when I am contacted by a family the first question I am always asked is "What do you charge?" This is an important question, but the simple answer is it depends.  I truly don't know until I see what is there to sell.    I often meet with the family of a recently deceased or parents that have been moved to an assisted living facility and have a house full of stuff they need to get cleared out.  They rightly want to get the most money for the items they have loved and treasured, but don't completely understand how auctions (or estate sales, tag sales) work.  

A good auction for me is around 30%, I do some higher and some lower, but on a typical $8,000 estate with a week of set up and a one day sale that's where I need to be.  From that fee that's how I cover my expenses and pay myself.  

Here's the math 
Gross $8,000 X Commission @ 30%  = $2400
-Expenses these are estimated and vary depending on needs and are included in my %

 -Helper for 1 week to set up $500
-Labor day of sale $350 
-Advertising $100 for online advertisement, but this can get very high very quickly.

My net for auction is $1450 give or take, that profit helps covers my labor and daily operating expenses.  Not a bad day, but I'm definitely not getting rich.    

Some other fees that may be charged that we typically do not.
Buyers premium 
This is a fee charged by (some) auctioneers to offset expenses this percent is charged to buyers by auction company.  We don't charge a buyers premium, with the thought being bidders bid conservatively when a buyers premium is in effect. 
Lot fee
This a fee usually $1 for each lot sold.  A typical auction for us runs 400-600 lots.
Set up fees or labor charges
These can get very costly figure $100 a person a day if you are paying labor the fee structure should reflect that. 

The fees below are fees we have asked sellers to pay, but is on a case by case basis.
Hall Rental
Moving and Storage
Clean out

This is not an all inclusive list, but may help you better understand the estate sale or auction costs.  If the company you meet with has a large fee or includes charges for other expenses, make sure you are comfortable that your getting what you pay for.  Walt

Walter Holt owner operator Have Gavel Will Travel (HGWTllc)
St Louis, Mo