Sponsored by Beloit Auction & Realty

Often adult children of aging parents find themselves having to make decisions about their parents’ stuff at some point. This can include a home as well as personal property. Whether you’re dealing with downsizing, a move to a skilled care facility, or the death of a parent, you may find yourself asking, “What do I do with my parents’ stuff?” Most likely you’re facing this dilemma with limited time, energy, and resources. This is especially true if you live far away. Hey, you’re not alone out there!  About one third of Americans live more than 70 miles–commuting distance– from their parents. But in these cases the need to get back to work on Monday (or even just grieve) means time is of the essence. Making use of a reputable auction house for personal property and real estate sales can be a blessing.

Things to Consider When Dealing with Your Parents’ Stuff

Doing It Yourself

If your parent lived in their own home, their possessions and furniture will need to be cleared out before the home can be sold. If you’re considering taking this on yourself, ask yourself some realistic questions:

  • Do you have time, support, and the keen understanding of the value of personal property it will take to see it through?
  • If so, are you emotionally and physically up to the task?

You may find this labor of love to be a healing event that brings your extended family and friends closer. On the other hand, taking on the task alone, with limited time, or other confounding circumstances can be one of the worst things to do. Consider your own stamina and the know-how as well as the abilities of your network of helpers when making this decision.

Estate Sales vs. Estate Auctions

For most of us, though, the next step will involve hiring a business who can do one of two types of sales for you. In some cases, families will want to retrieve items of sentimental value as well as important documents from the house. After that, choose between an estate sale or estate auction to liquidate the remaining items.

In an estate sale you can hire a crew to come in and tag every item in the house. This is why it’s sometimes called a tag sale. The tag sale happens very much like an in-home garage sale. Usually items are priced to sell, and yard signs and classified ads make up the majority of the publicizing of the event. The time an estate sale team spends pricing items and arranging them can be a few days to a few weeks, depending on the amount of stuff, the cleanliness of the home, and the team’s commitments. The sale is usually held for three days over a weekend. If you find a talented team, the house will be 90% cleared in a matter of weeks with a modest profit after fees.

The other way to sell your parents’ estate items is via auction. An auction crew accomplishes the same task, except that sales are conducted off site at an auction house, they are better publicized, and the clearing and pricing (starting bid) process tends to be quicker. Most auction houses will pick up everything, but the garbage, and bring it to the auction house to be sold the same week. That means once the auction team finishes picking up items, you can toss out or donate any left overs. Then breathe a sigh of relief—you have a clear house. Because auctions are clearinghouses by nature, you won’t have to worry about take-backsies. They will sell everything they put up at auction or they will handle disposing of it. Also, more valuable items may be held for a special auction, such as a monthly antiques and collectibles auction, where it can receive more attention to fetch a better price.

Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Auction

After the estate is cleared the second kind of sale is real estate. If you need to make a decision about selling you parents’ real estate, there are two time honored methods and each have their pros and cons.

Your first thought might be to hire a real estate agent. One of the reasons this method is common is that sellers can often get the full market value of the home. The downside is that even with publicity boons such as Trulia and Zillow, waiting for a home to sell at full market value can take many months. Once you find a buyer, closing the deal may take even longer due to negotiations.

Another thing to consider if you take this route is effort. You will work with your agent at every step to set a price, stage the home if necessary, drop price over time if necessary, and negotiate with buyers. If your realtor stages the home, this can involve buying and arranging furniture, cleaning, and painting. If you’re willing to wait, and you enjoy taking charge every step of the way, this option is for you. If not, you’re going to like what comes next…

The second method of selling your parents’ home is an auction. This option comes with a lot of perks, including speed of sale closure, control over the terms, and minimal effort required. Here’s what the process tends to look like:

  1. You work with the Auctioneer to set terms that are agreeable to you, and sign the contract. You can set a reserve price in the contract. This is the minimum amount you would accept for the property. Often you can work out a signal with your auctioneer if you desire to lower the reserve price while the auction is under way. This will ensure the home will sell. Terms like these give you full control over how to sell your parents’ stuff with minimal labor on your part.
  2. Once the contract is signed, the auction will be publicized for about one month.
  3. On the day of the auction the house will sell “as is” to the highest bidder. No negotiating or waiting for inspections. The longest you might wait to close the sale with your bidder is 45 days, if they are waiting for financing.

That means, if you sell your parents’ house at auction, the whole process can be completed within two months.

Now, you might be wondering about prices. Beloit Auction typically recommend the starting bid be 15-30 % below market value. This is a great way to get the bidding started, but it does mean you may not get full market value for the house. However, auction houses also work very hard to make sure the right people are in the room at the right time. Also, many auction houses use online services that broaden your customer base to a national audience. These auctions can be done both online and in person. This means more bidders, and more bidders mean more competition which drives up the price. Many times competition among bidders yields greater than market value returns.

Auctions Equal All-in-One Service

Finally, the unsung benefit of using an auction service to help you deal with your parents’ stuff is that it’s a one-stop-shop. Instead of hiring a tag sale crew, and then hiring a real estate agent who may want you to make changes to the house, and THEN dealing with the terms of buyer. Choose an auction house to do it for you. The same auction service that clears a home for an estate auction can also auction the real estate. That means you can go over the terms, sign the contacts, hand over the keys, and leave the worry on the doorstep. For many adult children, moving or losing an aging parent is hard enough. The good news is, the additional tasks of deciding what to do with their parents’ stuff can be simplified. Choosing to sell their parents’ property and home at auction is often the most beneficial choice.

Learn How to Get the Most for Your Money at a Real Estate Auction

 See you at the auction!