Should I hire an estate sale company or auction company?
My grandmother recently passed and left me her home and all contents. It is a house full of mid-range but quality furniture, some of it from the 50's and earlier in excellent condition. There are also some appliances, a moderate amount of jewelry, home decor items, etc. The type of stuff that's usually in a middle class household.
I have basically already unknowingly done a lot of the work for them, as I have already gone through virtually all the closets and drawers, organizing the stuff that's "saleable" and tossing the rest. It seems like a lot of their fees are to pay for going through the drawers and closets and organizing everything.
The auction company wants 15% and wants $1000 for advertising and hauling the stuff to the auction house. If I pull in $3,000, I'll be paying them virtually 50% of it. The estate sale people want 35% plus only $120 in advertising, so I'd come out a little better.
I am just weary of giving up control on all of this to someone. I found on E-bay that just the chairs from the dining room set my grandma has (it is a "Tell City" solid rock maple set from the 50's) are going for $200-$400 a piece, and my grandmother has the table, 8 chairs, a bench and a glass front china cabinet in pristine condition. I asked the estate sale lady what she'd price the whole thing for and she said $500?? I would think at LEAST $1500. I am just scared she's gonna price everything really low to get rid of it fast. And how do I know they aren't just going to pocket half of the proceeds? I asked, and they don't itemize anything except items over $500, which may be nothing according to her pricing. How am I going to know if she didn't just pocket half of the profits without an accounting of everything (at least all the furniture, appliances, and more expensive items). And she discourages me from being there. I want to be there. It's my stuff and my house. She also wants a key to have daily access to the house to sort and price.
A friend suggested I put the best furniture pieces on Craigslist just to see what interest there is and to get a possible price before I agree to any contract with an estate sale place. I am just afraid of how people at these sales expect to get everything at such low prices. That's fine for knick knacks and old pots and pans, but I don't want to give away solid wood furniture in excellent condition.
I'm starting to think that maybe these estate sale companies and auction companies are really for people that have a lot of really expensive antiques or jewelry or for people that don't want to do any of the work of selling the items and are willing to accept virtually any price just to unload everything quickly and easily. Am I wrong?
The estate sale lady could not give me any kind of estimate of a ballpark figure for the sales proceeds. Am I wrong to expect at least a range based on similar sales she's done in the past? I just am wondering how much profit one of these outfits must expect to pull in order to make the sale worthwhile if they have to pay people to help organize and price for several days in advance and then to staff the sale for 3 days. I mean they would have to expect to earn at least a $1,000 right? (meaning a gross of around $3,000)