If an estate sale is held to pay off debt, it is a liquidation sale. Other methods—estate sales, auctions, consignments, garage sales, dealers—each have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to realize that like many other things the quickest and easiest solution is likely to return the lowest amount of cash for the person selling the personal property.

The fastest and easiest way to liquidate an estate is to contact a used furniture or antique dealer and sell everything to them. Once you agree on the price, you get the money and the dealer gets the furniture and goods. The disadvantage of this method is obvious in that this will result in the lowest overall selling amount. The dealer does not appraise furniture item by item. He or she does a mental appraisal and you can be sure they are also factoring in the costs of storing and advertising the product. A dealer must also be aware that some pieces will not sell and be aware that you may be shocked by what you are offered.

An auction may be a better alternative if time is not a major concern and you require more money. It is easier and more convenient because the auction house picks up your merchandise, takes it, sells it and you receive a check. Some auction houses will provide transportation and packing services but expect to pay a higher commission for this additional service. Also, good to keep in mind, you may not get a check right away because the auction house has to get enough “lots” to make a sale worthwhile.

Choose an estate liquidation company for an on-site “Tag Sale” if you want a fast response and the highest dollar amount. The time involved is generally two to six weeks from initial contact. Unlike an auction, the liquidator will display your merchandise to its best advantage within the house, usually taking about a week to do so. The liquidator deals with individuals while the auctioneer’s responsibility is to involve the entire crowd in the bidding. The sale typically takes two to three days; prices are negotiable from start to finish.

One more option: you may wish to hold your own sale. You control everything including the profits, but the process can be exhausting and time-consuming and requires knowledge of antiques, collectibles and how appraisals work.  Most of the people I encounter who have done this themselves tell me they wish they hadn’t as their personal lives suffer greatly as a result of the tremendous amount of time involved.

In my next 2 articles , I will discuss How to Choose a Liquidator and Do You Sell the House or Its Contents First.

 Michael Olear is a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker – Find him online at www.olear.com