By Sarah McCullom
Now that we have discussed the different types of value, you might be asking how you can go about turning your antiques and treasures into income. Maybe you are one of the “baby boomers” who is moving into a smaller home, and need to divest your self of some of your belongings. Maybe you are cleaning out Mom & Dad’s house because they are moving, or worst of all you are faced with the estate left by the death of your parents. What do you do?What are the options?
Getting rid of a lifetime’s accumulation can be tougher than you think. Probably the easiest and quickest is to hire someone to simply buy the entire estate.I know an individual who does that – and he even wants you to leave the trash! He wants to have the opportunity to keep what he thinks is valuable (he once told me that Jerry Seinfeld was looking for a Quisp Cereal box and was willing to pay big bucks for it!) This option is appropriate if you must simply get rid of everything fast.
If you are not in such a big rush and have an estate that is fairly large, hiring a company to put together an estate sale may be right for you. They price and advertise, as well as manage the sale itself - for a fee. It takes a little while to get this done since you will want it advertised and put together properly.
Most people however, don’t have enough to justify an estate sale.In that case there are several ways to take care of it. First, of course, the family members will want to have the opportunity to decide what they want. The next option may be to consign some items. This would be the furniture and decorative arts that are in good condition and have some value. Most consignment shops, or antique shops that take consignments, do not charge for the service, but when the item sells, the shop usually get 50% and the owner gets 50%. Typically the shop will set or recommend the price for the piece. Many shops will only keep the piece for 60 days. If it is not sold by that time, they will request that the owner pick it up, or they will donate it to charity. Other shops will reduce the price until the piece finally sells. There are several antique/consignment shops in the Alexandria area.
Another option is to auction the pieces. For the more valuable pieces a reserve, or minimum acceptable price, is set.Some auction houses also have auctions where there is no reserve set. While they typically tell you that you will likely get 25-30% of the market value, you never know what will happen at auction! In addition to auction houses, there is also Ebay auctions.If you don’t know how to do Ebay, don’t worry – now there are Ebay auctioning companies that will do it all for you. EZ Auctioning in Old Town is one such local company. No matter how you auction, there are fees. Usually it is a percentage – up to 30% for selling price with the percentage decreasing as the selling price increases.
There are other options as well – Craig’s list on the internet, advertising in the newspaper, advertising in neighborhood papers or internet sites. If you know an antique dealer, he/she may be interested in purchasing some of your pieces. Lastly, when you are down to the last items, donation to charity such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army is appropriate.
The one thing to keep in mind in all of this is to consider having an expert take a look at the items in the estate before you do anything. There may be some treasures there, and you are not aware of their value. A good appraiser can come in and provide a professional opinion on whether you have anything of value. Sometimes an appraisal is warranted, but more often than not, that one visit will be enough to give you piece of mind that you are doing the right thing with your or your mother’s treasures.