The first step in the online estate auction process is to have a consultation with one of our estate sale professionals. During this meeting we will discuss your needs, a timeline for completing an auction, and take a tour of the items that you need help in liquidating. Provided everyone is agreed with the process of the auction, we will tailor our estate sale contract with you to fit your unique requirements.
With the contract in place, we will make an appointment to come to your property and begin our work. Depending on the size of the liquidation, it will take our team approximately 3-5 days to photograph and inventory each of the items to establish the lots for the auction. A lot consists of one item or several like items to be sold for one amount. As an example, a recliner would be sold as one lot, but a patio table and chairs that match would be sold as one lot. We take multiple pictures of each lot, sometimes upward of 8-10 pictures, to be sure that the buyers have a complete representation of each aspect of the lot. The spreadsheet contains a complete description of the lot, dimensions if necessary, and a high to low price, as well as the opening bid amount.
Once the inventory and pictures are completed our team returns to the shop and begins assembling the information into the complete auction to be uploaded to our online auction partner, AuctionZip.com. Every lot that we sell is thoroughly researched to establish the fair market value for that lot. It is important to remember that fair market value is established by analyzing comparable items sold in our area. If there are no local comparables, then our experts will make an exhaustive search for other like lots wherever they may be, and establish the value in that way. High and low prices are set, the opening bid amount is established and the description of the lot is completed. While the spreadsheet process is happening, our graphic designer is preparing the photographs for optimal presentation online. Again, depending on the size of the liquidation, this process takes around 10 days to complete.
Once the spreadsheet and photographs are prepared they are uploaded to AuctionZip.com to be published online. After a final proofread, the sale goes live online two weeks in advance of the actual sale date, or the date when the hammer falls as it’s called in the business. We give potential buyers two weeks to look over the lots that may interest them in order to give them time to do their research, cost compare, measure their space, collect their funds – in other words complete all the essential steps they need to buy with confidence.
Buyers can begin bidding on lots as soon as the sale goes live and can bid all the way up to the moment each individual lot goes under the hammer. The Taos Estate Sales team runs the entire auction, from the first lot to the last – that way we can assure our clients and customers alike that their lots are under the scrutiny of a person, not an algorithm. Each lot is given one minute on the auction block individually and no two lots are being bid on at the same time. This reduces confusion for the bidders and allows people to bid on every lot they are interested in. Bids are accepted on lots at any time before and during the time they are on the block. If a lot is bid on during its one-minute allotment on the block, then the clock resets to countdown to one minute. In this way we all but eliminate bid poaching – a practice where some individuals wait until the last second to bid in the hope of stealing a bid. The lot stays active on the block until the last bid is given and it sells. We then proceed with the next lot. A typical auction of 300-400 lots lasts about 5-6 hours, so we begin our auctions at 5PM, generally on a Tuesday, as that has proven to be the best day of the week for bidders to participate in an online auction.
Once all of the lots have sold or are passed, the auction closes. The winning bidders are sent an invoice for the lots they have won and are given 48 hours within which to pay. All bidders are required to leave a valid credit card number to participate in the auction, but they are allowed to pay with a different card or with PayPal at checkout. No lots are disbursed without payment in full. With their invoice, buyers are given the email address to SignUpGenius.com where they are instructed to schedule an individual pick up time for their lots on the following Friday or Saturday. Pick up is held at the property. The slots for pick up are spaced at 15-minute intervals so there are no overlaps at the property and to give our team time to set for the next pick up.
After every auction there are invariably lots that were not bid on. If they are lots that we feel would fit well in our shop or Annex, or are lots that would sell well online, we will remove them and take them to our facilities and enter into a new consignment agreement with you for those lots. The remaining lots are then donated to a local charity, most often Habitat for Humanity, the Community Against Violence Thrift Shop, or StrayHearts Cat Café. These lots are usually removed by the charity or are delivered to them by our team. Depending on your needs, we can leave a property staged with items that were arranged in advance to stay (items you may be keeping or that have sold with the property), or we can completely empty the property leaving it broom clean for the next steps. We even have cleaners we can contract for you if needed.
In our final step, we reconcile the inventory and income sheets, write you a check for your proceeds and provide you with a final report. The overall process takes 4-5 weeks optimally, depending on the size of the liquidation.