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Question DetailsAsked on 9/27/2016

Looking for someone to buy contents of 2 storage units in Reading, PATrash is all gone

Oriental rugs, toys, tools a variety of things

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1 Answer


Most locker companies do not allow auctions at the unit except when they are doing forclosure sales themselves due to lack of non-payment, but that is not an item-by-item auction - the entire lot is sold in one lump sum bid, so that is likely out. Some will allow (with an added charge or not) a lump-sum auction at your unit (so typically 10-20 minutes total time on site) - others will not.

Used goods stores and Antique (if any decent and at least moderately old furnishings or knick-knacks) stores will commonly bid on things like that - though usually on an item-by-item basis, not the entire lot for the antique stores.

Also in your case, local rug dealers (if these are authentic oriental rugs) might be interested in that part too. And of course real (as opposed to costume) jewelry is commonly pulled out and sold separately, because generally real jewelry is not recognized as such at an auction plus people at auctions are commonly not there prepared to spend many hundreds to even thousands of $ on an item. It is also very common for real gem jewelry to be mis-identified as costume jewelry, so best to have a jeweler look at any unknown items.

Many auction companies will also bid on the entire lot, or at your discretion will also write a contract with you to haul the items to their auction house or barn to sell at their regularly scheduled auctions. Some of these type companies and also some speculators also list in yellow pages and can be found on Google under the category Estate Sales or Estate Auctions.

Obviously, lump sum bid for the lot is simplest for you assuming you have no problem getting them to clear the unit out by the deadline you set (and be sure to make clear in the bid if it includes THEM cleaning the unit out to management's approval for unit closeout), especially if this is a locker you do not live near so you may be having a friend or relative or such open it up for the bidders to look at the contents. However, unless everything is pretty well visible (like basically only furniture and large tools, not boxed items) your proceeds are likely to be lower with that route.

Likely to yield better return is having an auction company haul it off and auction it off (inventorying in the process of course), and selling item by item (or box by box for junk boxes and kitchen stuff and such commonly). However, requires agreement on the inventorying (and you or a rep needs to be there during this) to be sure everything is listed - that item-by-item inventory (which you should get an up-front copy of as soon as it is done) then is annotated with the sale proceeds during the actual auction, and they pay you that amount minus the commission of from 15-40% typically, depending on total value of the lot and on how pricey the individual items are. At the low end for collectibles and antiques and liquor collections and antique toy and baseball card collections and such, at higher end for normal full-household lots without highly desireable items that have not been sorted out to discard the everyday pots and pans and clothing and such, so much of the lot is low-value items.

With an item-by-item auction you also need to deal with the auctioneer on whether specific items will have a minimum bid or not - of course, items that you do not get minimum set bid on you then have to take back and dispose of some other way, which can be an issue if large or you are not local or if estate items that need to be sold. Sometimes auctioneer (usually larger ones only) will agree to minimum bid on certain items and agree that if bids don't reach that level he will take the item himself at that minimum, to re-auction as his company's property at a future auction where it might bring a higher bid. Risk there of course is that the minimum he agrees to will be overly low (so he is not likely to get stuck with it) - and generally the contract terms read that his taking it at that price constitutes a sale so he still gets the commission on the "sale" regardless, as if it had sold.

A lot depends on whether this is somewhere local to you or not - if you have already moved away or this is an Estate sale or such, you might not have the time or be there to handle a more detailed sale type, so lump sum for the lot might be the best option for you in that case.

Note if an Estate sale - talk to the estate attorney in advance about whether an auction (lump sum or item by item) is adequate valuation for the possessions (i.e. taking that as current market value), or if you need to get an Estate Appraiser in there first to appraise the items for the estate tax return. Also - if an estate, sometimes the estate attorney can have his staff handle the legwork and also pull out any personal memorabilia items (personal papers and such) during the cleanout if going to an auctioneer - some have an employee who does nothing but handle estate liquidation issues, others will not get involved in the disposal of assets end at all.

An Estate Appraisal, in addition to providing needed info for the estate tax return (if applicable) also provides bumped-up cost basis info (if done as an itemized inventory) for determination of capital gains - especially on any items set-aside and not passed through the auction, but rather go to an estate beneficiary as a specific item. In that case, the date-of-death valuation becomes their "cost basis" and, at least for collectible or expensive items, should be provided to them for cost basis as well as insurance valuation purposes. It can also help identify any items of special value that should have a minimum bid put on them, or perhaps should even go to a specialty auction house like Christie's or Sotheby's or such if real valuable. Also, with things like antique toys and books and such,

Note that once you are under contract with an auctioneeer he is entitled to his commission on fair market value of anything you extract from the lot after the contract is signed - so if there are certain items that might be encountered that you do not want to sell they need to be listed as exclusions in the contract as items to be set aside during the cleanout.

Commonly, personal and financial papers and correspondence, photos, computer drives and discs (i.e. media with personal, financial, or memorabilia on them), cash money and travelers checks, precious metals, military medals and awards and such, sometimes jewelry, and wedding and birth memorabilia are typical kinds of items that are set aside. But your contract can stipulate whatever you want, though of course excluding more valuable or saleable items will result in the negotiated commission on the remaining items going up.

Sometimes in parent's estate sales people stipulate excluding sports equipment and toys, china or silverware sets, certain furniture, or other items which maybe belong to one of the children and never got separated out from the parent's house when the kids moved out. Sometimes the contract has entire categories set-aside like above, with the understanding that only certain favorite toys or memorabilia items will actually be pulled and most of them will pass through to the auction. Obviously, the more mixed the ownership or set-asides, the more need for you to be there during the loadout, and the better it is if this can be done BEFORE starting into the sale/bidding process. Of course, best for both you and the auctioneer if you can sort through and pull out all such items up-front and have any minimum bid amounts established by the appraisal BEFORE starting to talk to an auctioneer.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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