Published by Semler Appraisals & Estate Liquidations
A Professional Service for the Valuation of Personal Property
Fall 2000 Vol. 2, No. 3
Estate (Tag) Sale or Auction?
The purpose of estate sales (also known as “tag” sales) and auctions is similar—to sell the contents of a home or business. It is the procedure that differentiates the two. Estate sale managers, or their employees, decide what price to put on each item. They write the asking price on a tag or label and attach it to the item. If items don’t sell the first day, the prices are reduced. At auction, the bidders, not the auctioneer or staff, determine the selling price.
Bidders have an opportunity to preview the items to be sold before the sale starts at an auction. It is always to their benefit to thoroughly inspect anything that they might bid on, checking it for authenticity and condition. At a tag sale, especially if the potential buyers are among the first in line when the sale opens, they may not have time to thoroughly examine their purchases until they get them home. Someone could purchase the item while they are deciding whether to buy.
Tag sales provide the best selection of merchandise when the sale starts, and the pickings get slimmer as the sale progresses. Some insistent shoppers get in line at 4:00 A.M. for a good sale, just so they can be in the first rush through the door. But the second shopper may head into a different room and find the bargain of the decade while the first in line may end up in the utility closet. Auctions allow everyone the same opportunity to purchase whatever is in that sale and they don’t have to stand in line for hours to get in.
Those unable to attend an auction can usually leave absentee bids. A member of the auctioneer’s staff will bid for them on the items that they specify, up to but not over the amount they indicate. This works best if the items have been previewed. Bids are sometimes accepted at tag sales. If shoppers have an interest in an item but want to pay less than the price on the tag, they might be able to leave their name and amount they are willing to pay. Some estate sale managers will ask that a check be written for each amount bid. If the item sells to someone else for more than the bid, the check is returned or destroyed. If the item is still available at the conclusion of the sale, the bidder is called to pick up the item.
Have a complaint? There is no licensing or regulation of estate sale businesses. Auctioneers, however, must be licensed in Texas. It is mandatory that the auctioneers include the address and phone number of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation on a sign posted in a conspicuous place, on the bidder card, or on the receipts given to successful bidders. This address for unresolved complaints must also appear on the seller’s contract.
Sellers pay a commission to either the estate sale manager or to the auctioneer. The auctioneer, however, may charge the seller a lower commission and make up the difference by including a buyers premium, paid by the successful bidders. This is usually a percentage of the hammer price. Items that don’t sell during an estate sale can be donated to charity, given away, or sent to the dump. All saleable items are sold at auction and nothing is left at the conclusion of the sale. How? If there is no interest in an item, it is grouped with a desirable item and both are sold together. With either method of selling, the home or office should be left empty and broom clean.
In the Dallas area, estate sales are listed in the Dallas Morning News in section L01 (Antiques & Art) of the Classified Ads. Auctions are in L08 (Auction Sales) and, in the Sunday edition, on the back page of the employment section.
If you have the need to clear out the contents of a home, office, or warehouse, consider the benefits of a professionally managed estate (tag) sale or auction. Call us for a consultation as to the best method for liquidating your property.
With the advent of the Internet, on-line appraisals are available. Before you request or accept an on-line appraisal, keep the following points in mind.
Because items are only available for inspection through digital images, the on-line appraisal is a hypothetical one (no personal inspection of the item by the appraiser).
On-line appraisals should only be used for the objective of determining market value. Appraisals for fair market value or replacement cost should not be performed with an on-line appraisal.
The function of an on-line appraisal is only for contemplated sale or purchase, or for personal planning. Appraisals for estate tax liability, charitable contribution, insurance coverage or claim, or divorce should not be performed with an on-line appraisal.
On-line appraisals are restricted use reports, are limited in nature, and are intended for use only by the client and no one else.
On-line appraisals are based on extraordinary assumptions, which if incorrect, could render the value conclusion inaccurate.
In on-line appraisals, the condition of the items is assumed to be as described by the client and by what is readily apparent from examination of the digital image.
On-line appraisal management companies (such as eppraisals.com among others) often forward to the client only the appraiser’s value conclusion and not the complete appraisal. The name of the appraiser and the appraiser’s qualifications should always be provided to the client.
The issue of on-line appraisals has created a great deal of controversy in the appraisal community. The concern about potential liability is just one factor. At Semler Appraisals, we do not provide on-line appraisals. However, if you have questions regarding on-line appraisals, please call.