So What Happens to the Leftovers?

Whew! Wipe the sweat off your brow. Wash those dirty hands and don’t forget the pain medication for that aching back. Perhaps soaking in a tub of hot water will help. The good news is that after weeks of frustrating hard work, tough decisions, and haggling with family members of “who gets what,” you are finally done. Well almost. What in the world are you going to do with all this stuff?

You finally were able to divide up the family heirlooms with some degree of satisfaction. Ok, there are a few ruffled feathers, but they will get over it. Of course it may take a few years. You saved the really prime items to sell on eBay where you can make the really big money and threw away the trash. Sure hope there wasn’t anything of value in some of those boxes and don’t you just wonder about that cash Gramma said she put in a safe place; if only she could have remembered where. Anyway, enough of that. What can be done with everything that is left over? Nobody in your family wants it. You couldn’t even give it away! Now it is time to call the auctioneer. He can sell all of the leftovers at auction and get you a whole bunch of money.

I hate to break the news to you, but if you have followed the above scenario then it is probably too late to call in the auctioneer. Oh, the auctioneer will come. He will do a walk through the house and perhaps do a little digging. More than likely, he will find one or two items that you did not even realize had any collectible value. What he probably cannot do for you is put together the kind of auction that will bring a large crowd, attract strong interest, and give you monetary gains beyond your wildest expectations. Why? Because you left him the leftovers. Items nobody in your family wanted and if you didn’t want them then why would you think anyone else would? The old saying of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is only partly true in today’s world and probably the only person who can realistically evaluate when this does hold true is a professional auctioneer.

At this point you are probably thinking, “Boy, is this auctioneer ever trying to sell auctions!” Of course I am! I am doing this partly because this is how I earn my living and partly because I am passionate in the belief that no better method exists when faced with the task of liquidating a large quantity of items than with a well planned auction. You may be thinking, “Why does this guy think he can do this better than I can?” Why should I hire an auctioneer to liquidate this estate?

Here is why! Years of experience of doing in hours what it took you and your family weeks to do and doing it better and more efficiently. With a professional auctioneer you will have a minimum of stress, hassles, hurt feelings, and no worries about throwing $1,200.00 worth of old postcards in the trash. Hard to believe, but one family did and this auctioneer took the time to dig through all the “throwaways” and found those plus more. Did I remember to tell you about the artist sketchbooks that showed up at another auction and sold for a paltry $3,500.00? The amazed owner told me that if he had found them, they too would have ended up in the trash. Don’t laugh too hard. This could have been you! I still remember the metal toy Ferris wheel that was discovered in pieces at the bottom of a box of worn out pots and pans. The family had no idea this was an item of value, but the auctioneer did. As a result, what could have sold for a few dollars brought hundreds!

Now you are probably thinking about the big money you will get on eBay for all the good stuff you pulled from the auction. What about it? Does your field of expertise include determining the value of all the antiquities and normal household that comes with the average estate? Do you really have time and are you ready to deal with all of the hassles involved when dealing with strangers? Are you prepared to wrap, pack, ship out and then deal with an unhappy buyer who tells you the items were either A. not as described, B. broken or damaged upon arrival or; “Gee I changed my mind. I’m not paying for this”? What are your plans when you ship the item out only to find out the check has just bounced? Auctioneers deal with these issues and more on a daily basis. We all read and hear about the success stories of selling online. That’s part of the news every day. We seldom hear about the failures and the scams. Companies like eBay would prefer you not hear about those! Most professional auctioneers are members of a professional association. Many states license and regulate auctioneers. You won’t find this on eBay or other online companies. Buyers and sellers on eBay are not regulated nor are they required to fulfill any kind of licensing. You will be dealing with both the good and the bad and it will be difficult to tell the difference.

Did you ever consider what might happen if you placed your trust in the hands of a professional auctioneer? Someone who could advertise, market, and sell the complete estate and do it quickly and efficiently. Let’s face it; liquidating an entire estate can be a stressful and formidable task. You may start out thinking it is a piece of cake, but it won’t be long before you start to realize just how unprepared and overwhelmed you are. Do yourself and your family a big favor. Call in the auctioneer before you start the process. Not somewhere in the middle and almost certainly, not at the end. Do not expect positive results from just the leftovers!

Perhaps you are thinking about what is commonly called a “Tag Sale.” There is nothing wrong with this if you simply want to hire and pay someone what you could have done yourself. Prices will be posted, and buyers will then negotiate those prices downward to a level they find acceptable. The buyers and bargain hunters will wander through the house over a period of several days. When it is over with, you will end up with a trashed house and…a bunch of LEFTOVERS! Folks, you can take a week or two off from work and do this yourself. Or you can go to work, keep your sanity, hire an auctioneer, and have it all sold in a day! Trust your auctioneer with the prime items as well as the LEFTOVERS and it will not be rocket science to figure out what the better option is here.

Did you know that some items are very good candidates for online sales? One example I can give you would be Civil War medical instruments. With unusual and unique items like that, it is unlikely you will maximize your dollars through a live auction alone. This is an example where, if you hire an auctioneer, can perhaps have the best of two worlds. Many auctioneers can offer choices of online sales, not just eBay, plus they can incorporate it simultaneously with your live auction. No one but an auctioneer has the capability to do this. Thanks to our affiliation with AuctionZip, the world’s largest database of live auctions, LYN LIECHTY AUCTIONS can even offer online bidding through their website. With a superior internet presence we can find serious buyers for the hard to find items whether it is sold online, via absentee bids, phone bids, or at a live auction!

It is important to note that online sales are not a cure all for everything of value. That McCoy pottery will probably sell just as well at a traditional live auction as it will online and with less hassle. Those so-called good or prime items will also serve to create the interest you need to attract a crowd of serious bidders and are of paramount importance in getting everything sold including all the “leftovers.” Keeping the “good stuff” in the auction will bring you a larger crowd of serious buyers and this will drive prices up on the not so valuable items as well as those of higher value. You can pull these items and sell them separately, but there is a real risk of leaving dollars on the table because of all the unsold and undersold “leftovers.”

While it is the goal and the intent of all auctioneers to “sell everything,” in the real world that does not always happen. Chances are if there is anything left over after the auction they truly are items that no one wants. Normally the amount is minimal. Your auctioneer should have answers, solutions, and options available for you. If it is a very small amount you may decide to dispose of it yourself. Some auctioneers, for a fee, offer a “cleanup” service or they can make arrangements to hire a clean up person. There is no reason you should have to be left with a mess. When auctioneers advertise “full service” generally that is exactly what they mean.

In closing, I hope I have been at least somewhat successful in pointing out the dangers of trying to “do it all” yourself and then expecting your auctioneer to perform miracles with the “leftovers”. You would not hire an attorney when needing legal expertise and then tell him how to present the case in court. If in need of brain surgery, you certainly would not start the process and then ask your surgeon to take care of “whatever is leftover.” Your auctioneer is a professional when it involves the liquidating, quickly and efficiently, of a large number of marketable items. Let him handle the disposal of the great stuff and you will have a great auction. He will identify your market and find your buyers. He will create a professional and exciting auction event that no one can duplicate. Leave him nothing but the “leftovers” and you will never know what a great auction experience you missed out on.

AUTHOR: Auctioneer Lyn Liechty, written February 5, 2006

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