How does the family begin to liquidate the contents of an estate when a loved one dies? The solution depends on what an estate professional recommends, after considering factors like location, amount and value of the contents and the needs or desires of the family.
Here are a couple of options to carefully consider when liquidating an estate.
Conducting an estate sale is no easy task. Muscle power and organizational skills go into every sale. A good estate sale professional answers your questions including whether an estate sale is the best option for you. When they contract for an estate sale, an estate sale professional will research items and price accordingly. They expertly set up, display, sort, organize, and even drive traffic to the sale. Some professionals offer clean-out service and are also appraisers. Most estate sales take weeks to setup for and are completed within a couple of days. Estate sales are usually conducted for a percentage of the gross proceeds of the sale plus cost.
The Auction Method is simply a process of buying and selling goods &/or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder. The highest bid is the successful buyer. The bidding is controlled by the auctioneer, who will do his best to get the bids as high as possible. The Auction Method can be utilized onsite or online. Online auctions are a good way to sell and thin out items when downsizing or handling an estate. However, most people don’t understand the amount of effort and time required to successfully launch just a handful of items. Each item must be described accurately; what is it exactly? At what price should the item start on auction? It takes time to pack, ship and track each item. There are two types of auctions either onsite or online: You have an absolute auction and a reserve. Absolute means it will sell to the highest bidder regardless of what the price may be. A reserve auction means the seller can set a minimum price to protect the piece, if it doesn’t sell for the reserve price. Most estate sales take weeks to setup for and are completed within a couple of days. Auction sales are usually conducted for a percentage of the gross proceeds of the sale plus cost.
Getting Ready For the Auction or Tag Sale....
We realize that getting ready for an auction or estate sale can be a very stressful time. Preparing for and conducting an Estate Auction is not easy, but it's a wonderful way to sell residential contents, antiques, collectibles and just about anything to those who will really enjoy them and are willing to pay top dollar. That is why we provide a full service solution and completely set up your auction and everything that goes into the process for you. From cleaning of equipment and property to displaying the items, our services will assure top dollar for your merchandise. The preparation starts long before the public even knows about it. The Estate Auctioneer and his team begin the tedious process of sorting everything that can be potentially sold. A professional needs to do this, since hasty mistakes are made by family, who do not understand what is sellable and collectible. You would be amazed at what is found in garbage bags when the family leaves! Things are thrown away every day that can easily be converted into cash. We will photograph and market the items as well as establish an order to the sale. The sale order in which your items are sold can make a big difference in what they will sell for. In most cases, our experienced staff will come in weeks ahead of the auction to start the process and prepare for auction day. A day or two before your auction we will be back out onsite to start the setup and to establish the order of the sale. From beginning to end we make sure that everything is ready for auction day. Higher dollar items or collections are usually featured prominently and displayed in such a manner to be attractive, as well as protected during the sale. Jewelry is handled differently by Auctioneers; many have locked cases for sterling and gold, while others will use plastic bags for costume jewelry or they will display them in flats to be sold. We have platforms, tables, showcases and flat-bed trailers available to display the auction items. Enough staff is present to watch over the smaller items that have value and a staff member will hand fine jewelry, guns and other smalls directly to a buyer one piece at a time for control purposes. For items that are lower end, like small tools in abundance, many Auctioneers may group them and sell them by the lot. We will arrange for top quality concessions to be available to serve food to the crowd at auction and also provide or arrange portable restrooms. If you are auctioning your Real Estate, open houses are scheduled and "bidder packages" are prepared. Your title work is put into motion as well as your preliminary closing work. We will assess your property and make suggestions on repairs or improvements that may pay off on auction day.
Advertising the Sale
The Auctioneer usually has a list of clients who sign up for their Auction notifications, so they will send out email notices prior to the event, to hundreds and even thousands of people. The Auctioneer will also list sales on their websites and link to other sites. The local newspaper is a good way to reach people who love to find weekend sales. The auction professional will write a creative advertisement with photos to attract people to the estate sale. A well-written advertisement, coupled with a good Auctioneer reputation, will have buyers waiting in line to gain access. Our advertising efforts are second to none which includes but not limited to ads in local and regional publications, specialty magazines or periodicals, online advertising on our website, AuctionZip, Global Auction Guide, Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook, Twitter and More as well as full color Sale Bills along with print mailed out notices and the aforementioned e-mail list. Our website along with AuctionZip attract Thousands of weekly views to our Auctions.
Day of Sale
The night before, directional signs will be put out on the streets by the Auction Company to show people how to get to the estate. ( Depending on local ordinance, many times the directional signs can & will go out weeks in advance ) Many, but not all auction professionals, will control how many people can enter the home. They will control the crowd to avoid breakage and to keep the flow of people running smoothly. Some form of control is a good idea, because the energy of an Auction is quite frenzied. We always insure we have plenty of staff on hand to handle the Auction day crowds. An Estate Auction can last for hours or even go on for days depending on how much is in the home. The Auctioneer uses several factors to guide their decision, including the location of the estate, quality and quantity of the items.
Credited: U.S. Small Business Administration
If you have decided to get out of business and are not able to pass your business on, merge it with another business, or sell it as a going concern, liquidating the assets could be the most appropriate exit strategy. However, before you terminate your lease, sell a key piece of equipment, or disconnect your utilities, make sure you have a well thought-out plan. If you determine that liquidating your assets is your best course of action, follow these key steps.
The information on this site is intended to provide you with a general overview of the liquidation process. It is not a substitute for case specific advice that only your lawyer and accountant can provide.
Also remember that you will need the cooperation of your creditors. Once you have developed a plan, present it to them and get their permission before you act. As long as you are candid and have a formidable plan, they will most likely go along with it.
For more information related to liquidation planning, you should review the FTC's Internet Auction Guide. This document by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains how Internet auctions work, and is essential reading if you're considering this course of action. To help you find a professional auctioneer in your area to conduct your sale, go to the National Auctioneers' Association (link is external).
Begin by preparing a current inventory of your business assets. Try to include photographs, serial numbers, and a brief description of the condition of each item. Your inventory will save you considerable time and expense as you move through the sale process and will be invaluable if you are later asked to explain the sale to your creditors or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Next, start preparing your assets for sale. Don’t risk diminishing the appeal of your marketable items by keeping outdated or worn-out equipment, furniture or inventory. Their primary value is in the form of a tax deduction, so why not donate them to an appropriate charity?
If necessary, wash, paint, or repair the items you intend to sell. Make sure your business premises are neat and clean if the sale will be held there.
Be able to demonstrate your equipment. Have the warranties and repair records available for inspection.
Don’t scare buyers away. If hazardous waste products, such as used chemicals and batteries, are stored on your business premises, contact your local Department of Ecology for a list of companies that purchase these items. If they can’t be sold, dispose of them properly.
If you have items that are leased with an option to purchase, don’t just turn them back in. Find out how much is owed. You might be able to pay off an item, such as a forklift, for a few hundred dollars and sell it for a few thousand.
If you have attractive items on consignment or with high residual lease balances, you might want to ask the owners to include their items in your sale. It will save them the hassle and expense of moving them, and you will have someone to share the costs of the sale with. Their big-ticket items may even help you attract more buyers.
If your business premises are leased and you have trade fixtures or other items attached to the real estate, make sure they are worth more than the cost of repairing the damage done by removing them. Inquire about your landlord’s plans for the premises. The new tenant or your landlord may be interested in buying your items or including the items in your sale.
Finally, don’t overlook your intangible assets. For example, is your lease assignable? Are the business licenses, permits, patents, or trademarks that you hold in demand? Can they be transferred? Is there a market for your customer list, contract rights, or accounts? You may wish to check with your attorney or accountant.
If your customers or employees will be disgruntled when they learn that your business is closing, consider collecting the keys, changing the locks, or hiring a security guard. You won’t be able to recover any of your investment if the items you’ve invested in are no longer around.
Liquidation value refers to the amount you can expect to recover in a forced sale situation. Generally, this amount is at least 20 percent less than retail value. To establish the liquidation value of your assets, work with a qualified appraiser. Obtain a written liquidation value appraisal before you entertain any offers.
Study the appraisal well before you make any significant decisions concerning your sale.
Once you have your liquidation value appraisal, estimate your net sale proceeds. Remember to deduct all of the costs of the sale. These include items such as commissions, advertising expenses, moving and storage costs, labor expenses, credit card discounts, rent and utilities. Also deduct amounts that are secured by liens on your assets such as rent, delinquent personal property taxes, and loans owed to secured creditors.
If a liquidation sale doesn’t look worthwhile after you’ve done your calculations, talk to your attorney. There may be more appropriate exit strategies for you to pursue.
If a liquidation sale looks worthwhile, the next step is to decide what type of sale to hold. One, or a combination of several, of the following types of sales may be appropriate.
Negotiated sales in a distress situation are desirable but uncommon. Logical buyers include your competitors, customers, suppliers and landlord. For example, if you own a restaurant, your landlord may be interested in purchasing your equipment so that the premises can be rented to a new operator at a higher rate.
Consignment sales are appropriate when time is not of the essence, your assets are easily movable, and there is a local dealer specializing in the type of items you want to sell. If you choose a consignment sale, you will need to turn your assets over to the dealer, who will sell them and pay you an agreed-upon amount following the sale.
Internet sales are rapidly growing in popularity and importance. Before deciding whether to sell online, familiarize yourself with the rules and your legal obligations as a seller by reading the FTC's Internet Auction Guide. You may also want to consult a traditional auction company, since many are now able to accommodate simultaneous in-person and online bidding.
Sealed bid sales are appropriate when confidentiality is important. All the bids are submitted in sealed envelopes that are opened at the same predetermined time and place.
Retail sales, also known as Going-Out-of-Business Sales, are appropriate for consumer items like small appliances, gifts and gadgets. They are also a good way to sell shoes and clothing, since people don’t like to buy these items unless they can try them on first.
A retail sale followed by an auction works particularly well for some businesses. For example, if you are trying to close a grocery store, you can start with a retail sale to dispose of the food, and follow it up with an auction to dispose of the shelving, freezers, cash registers, shopping carts and other miscellaneous items.
To protect consumers from unscrupulous retailers who falsely claim to be going out of business week after week and year after year, many states now regulate Going-Out-of-Business Sales. If you want to conduct such a sale, be sure to research the law in your area.
Public auctions are appropriate for most business assets. Typically, your property is sold item by item to the highest bidder. You may, however, also be able to take advantage of the aggregate bid process, which can result in a considerably higher sales price. This works particularly well if your landlord is willing to prequalify the bidders as tenants. For example, suppose you want to sell a laundromat. Each washer and dryer can be auctioned separately, the individual bid prices totaled, and the bidding reopened on all of the items for an amount that is higher than the aggregate amount of the individual bid prices.
The aggregate bidding process also works on a smaller scale. For example, a bulldozer can be auctioned separately from its ripper. The bids can then be totaled and the machine and its attachment offered as a package subject to a minimum bid higher than the aggregate amount of the individual bid prices.
Begin with the season, then select the best day and time to hold your sale.The season should be appropriate for the type of merchandise you want to sell. Snow-blowing equipment, for example, will sell better in December than it will in July.
The day of the week and time should be convenient for the customers you’re hoping to attract. For example, few contractors will leave a job site in the middle of the day during their workweek to attend a liquidation sale, but if you schedule it for a Saturday morning, they’ll be there. Similarly, hair salons and restaurants are typically open on Saturdays, but closed on Mondays. Make it easy for the owners of these businesses to attend your sale by scheduling it on a Monday.
Of course, you also need to take your marketing plans into account. Find out when the trade journals you want to advertise in are published and how much lead time they’ll need to include your ad.
The location of your sale can have a significant impact on your net proceeds. Choose it carefully, based on what you’re trying to sell. While construction equipment, cars, trucks, snowmobiles, and lawnmowers can be moved and sold just about anywhere, other items should be sold in place. Restaurant equipment, for example, can drop as much as 50 percent in value if moved.
As a general rule, it is best to hold your sale on your business premises. From a marketing perspective, most items look best in the surroundings where they are used. Some, such as you’d find in a machine shop or a sawmill, have special voltage requirements. Your business site is wired to accommodate them; most storage warehouses aren’t. Keep in mind that prospective buyers are unlikely to buy equipment they can’t test unless they get a large discount, and moving and storage costs will reduce your net recovery.
Sometimes, a poor landlord-tenant relationship can prevent a business owner from obtaining permission to hold an on-site sale. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t give up. Your auctioneer or attorney may be able to obtain your landlord’s cooperation.
Finally, in exceptional circumstances, the best place for your sale may be somewhere other than where your assets are located. This is particularly true when they are impractical or impossible to move, such as a cruise ship or a mountaintop resort, and interest in purchasing them extends to other areas of the country. In these cases, you may be able to recover more by selling them in absentia. For example, a fish cannery located on a small island in the Aleutians could be sold in Seattle by utilizing a video presentation. Bids could be taken in person in Seattle, at the cannery, over the telephone, and via the Internet.
The right expert can ensure that you get the highest possible dollar return. To choose the right expert, analyze your assets. Then, determine who--an auctioneer, a dealer, a broker, etc.--has expertise in each category of assets you want to sell. If you are not sure where to start, ask your banker, lawyer, and business associates for recommendations.
The professionals you’ve hired should take care of the paperwork required to transfer title to your assets.
Nevertheless, double-check to make certain that each bill of sale states that the item was sold “As is, Where is.” You are probably looking forward to retirement or starting a new business. Why risk entanglement in long,
drawn-out disputes over implied warranties of merchantability or fitness?
We are proud of the Auction Services we are able to provide to our customers in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Our professional staff which includes our Auctioneers, Ringmen, Cashiers, Clerks, Office Staff and General Setup Crew have way over a 100 years of combined experience in managing, coordinating and conducting auctions in a very diverse range of categories and situations including real estate, personal property, commercial property, seized items by law enforcement, insurance pools and federal agencies, estates and estate liquidations, antiques and collectibles, cars, trucks, boats, RV's, salvage, coins and currency, gold and silver, Bank Foreclosed and Bank Repo Personal Property and Real Estate PLUS much, much more. Both onsite or online, using the auction method is one of the fastest and most exciting ways to liquidate items. I've always said, “our marketing is second to none, not even the big boys in the business can match what we do”. From print to online and everywhere in between, we market our auctions like no one else in the business. Our marketing and advertising includes print ads in the local and regional newspapers and periodicals, speciality and trade magazines, radio ads, mailing lists via U.S. Mail and e-mail blast, newsletters, professional full-color flyers, advertisement on digital billboards, desktop and mobile campaigns, social networks, exclusive auction software, exclusive “Premium Auction House” status with simulcasted online bidding with AuctionZip and eBay PLUS our state-of-the-art website. Little Bull Auction & Sales Co., stays ahead of the competition so we may properly serve you, our seller. Most importantly we get great advertising rates, which saves our customers unnecessary costs. Just a few reasons why hiring the best is always best. Call around, inquire about their cost then call us. You will be glad that you did. We go above and beyond for each and every customer. We keep the promises we make and we put them in writing. Ask about our Seller Service Pledge.
Troy D. Watts
Owner - Realtor - Auctioneer
Little Bull Auction & Sales Co. and Watts Realty Co.
Before the Sale:
In preparation for the sale, you can look at our Upcoming Auctions page to see a list and photos of the items being sold that day. The auction listing will also tell you if items at that day’s sale are up for online bidding. Often, the listing is just a sample of the items available at the sale, so you will be sure to find some surprises at the sale! The listing will also let you know if there is a preview or open house for the sale.
Day of Sale:
When to Arrive: We will always be at the sale at least an hour before the auction start time and many times much earlier. You are welcome to come early and check-out the items. In fact, this is encouraged because all items are sold “as is - where as” which means the buyer has the obligation to investigate the condition of the items being sold. The auctioneer will disclose as much information as possible, but they often don’t know every detail about each item.
Registering for the Auction: Before you can bid, you must register at the auction registration desk. To register, you need a valid ID with your correct address. The friendly ladies at the registration desk will take all your information and give you a bidder number. Please keep track of your number; it is how we know what items you purchased.
How to bid on items: When the auctioneer gets to an item you want to purchase, just raise the bidder card you received when you registered. The auctioneer will recognize your bid and then move onto the next increment. Generally, the auctioneer moves in increments of $1, $2.50, $5, $10, $25 and up depending on the price of the item. Sometimes the auctioneer will have an assistant called a “ring man” who will be signaling bids. If the ring man sees your bid, he will signal it to the auctioneer. Remember, the auctioneer moves fast, so bid quick and bid often.
After the auctioneer says sold: If the auctioneer says sold and you have won the item, you now own it. That means it is your responsibility! We recommend you bring along a box in which you can keep your items so they don’t get stolen. We provide grease pens and markers and your are welcome to write your bidder number on purchase(s) to identify they are yours.
Paying for your items: You will notice there is a clerk recording the items sold as the auctioneer is selling. That information is given to the ladies at the registration desk who will add up all of your purchases. Once you have bought everything you want, head back over to the registration desk to check out. You can pay by cash, check or credit card or for select bidders by electronic invoice. Keep in mind while you are bidding that some auctions have a Buyers Premium in effect. Signs will be posted and you are always welcome to ask questions regarding the terms & conditions of that day's auction.
Absolute Auction: All items in the auction will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the bid. There is no reserve or minimum on the item for bid
Auction with Reserve: Some or all items in the auction have a minimum bid that must be reached by the bidder before the auctioneer can sell the item to the bidder. This type of auction is reserved mainly for property with a high value such as residential homes, commercial real estate or large equipment. The Auctioneer will announce if there is a Seller Reserve. If you don't hear an announcement, there is no reserve.
“As-Is” or “Where-As”: There is no warranty on the merchandise and the bidder is responsible for removal from the auction location. This means that the bidder must rely on their own information and inspection of the merchandise to make bidding decisions. The bidder is responsible to inspect, take possession and move the merchandise.
Choice Times the Money: Our Auctioneers use this buying option when more than one product is being offered for sale. The bidder may bid for an individual item, and the winning bidder may take as many of the set as they wish. If the bidder does not want them all, then they are for sale at the same price to any bidder. For example, we may offer any choice item off of the table. The high bidder will then get to choose as many items off they table they want and their bid will be multiplied by how many items they took from the table. (i.e. High bid of $5.00 X 3 items = $15.00)
All for One Money: Multiple items are being offered for sale and what you bid is one price for all of the items. Bids for individual items are not accepted
Sold: When the auctioneer says the word “sold” or the gavel falls after the bidding has ceased, the item is sold as the auctioneer directs to the clerk. The bidding cannot be reopened after the word “sold” is said unless there is some sort of discrepancy or situation that requires it.
Final Word: The auctioneer has the final word in all bidding situations. If the ringman took your bid and the auctioneer did not see the bid, the item is sold as the auctioneer directs.
The staff at Little Bull Auction & Sales Co. is happy to provide you with further information and to answer any of your questions about the auction process. Simply give us a call or stop by the next auction and look for the Red Shirts with “AUCTION STAFF” in big letters. As always, Bid High - Bid Often and Happy Bidding.
What will be sold at the auction?
At Little Bull Auction & Sales Co., one of our favorite sayings is “You Never Know What We Will be Selling Next”. After so many years in business, I'm not even surprised anymore as to what comes through or doors to sell. We sell so many different kinds of items. Items may include antiques and collectibles, gold and silver, coins and money, new merchandise, tools, household goods, historical items, vehicles, heavy equipment, farm equipment, real estate and much much more. We have sold everything from A to Z; for example, Airplanes to Zebra's and about everything in between. Simply check out our Upcoming Auctions for more detailed lists and photographs for each sale. BUT, keep in mind the list & pictures are merely a sample of what is to be SOLD. Most sales offer way too many items to list them all and many times surprises and goodies are found on auction set up day and never make it into the catalog and list for that particular sale.
How are our Online Auctions different than eBay?
Well Little Bull Auction & Sales Online Auctions many times utilize eBay. We are one of the few “Premium Auction Houses” in the U.S. That have an Exclusive agreement to simulcast our Online Auctions to the vast buyers on eBay. First of all, Individuals do not post auctions to our site – we control all the product and merchandise that we sell as an agent for our Sellers. We utilize Three ( 3 ) different types of online auctions. One is a Timed Online Only Auction similar to eBay. The items are posted and they have a end time where the auction closes by a countdown ticker. Second, is a Online Only Auction with Real Time Bidding. This type of Auction allows the Bidder to Pre-Bid or place absentee bids on an item at any time leading up to the Auction Start Time. At the time the auction is to start, we open up our computer platform and electronically accept bids on each item in order and close each item individually as bidding ceases on that item. At this type of auction there are no “Floor Bidders” or actual bidders onsite in attendance. All items are either for local pickup or can be shipped pretty much anywhere in the world. The Thrid type of online auction we conduct is an Onsite & Online Auction. This is where we have a LIVE auction onsite with a live crowd a.k.a. Floor Bidders and simulcast the LIVE Auction and accept bids electronically as well as in the crowd.
How do I sell items at the auction?
After attending an Auction or Two, you may just find yourself wanting to sell something. We are always looking for sellers to consign items of all types to our auctions. With many different auctions, we are sure to have the perfect sale for your items or real estate. Simply give us a call or CLICK HERE for our “Something to Sell” online form.
Are there any guarantees on the items sold?
Everything sold by Little Bull Auction & Sales Co. is “As is, Where As” unless otherwise stated at the Auction or in the Marketing Material. From time to time, items will come with a transferable warranty or a 3rd party warranty is made available at additional cost to either the Buyer or Seller. It is the responsibility of the Buyer to check the condition of items. We are glad to take condition report requests by email or phone. We also encourage you to come early to the auctions to check on the items in which you are interested.
Will I get a title if a buy a car, trailer, boat, truck or other titled item?
Yes, you will get a title for any titled item and we provide a bill of sale for any type of equipment, trailer, etc. that does not come with a title. There is a $15 Title/Bill of Sale Fee. If there are any problems related to the title, the auctioneer will clearly state it before the sale of the item.
How can I pay for the items I buy?
We accept Cash, Check, Credit Card and PayPal for all personal property purchases. Personal Property Purchase(s) must be paid in full day of sale unless other arrangements are made directly with the Auctioneer. Credit is available to our long time customers, call our office for details. Real Estate requires the Earnest Money to be paid by Check and final closing will require you pay by Certified Check.
What if I can’t come to the sale?
Many of our Auctions are now offered with online bidding so check there first. We are always happy to allow for FREE Local Pick-Up by appointment. If it is an onsite only auction with no option of online bidding, then we are happy to take absentee bids in confidence if you can’t come to the sale. Please Note: Regardless of the terms and conditions of that days auction, a 10% Buyers Premium/Convenience Fee will apply. Please call our office well in advance of the Auction to place your absentee bids and have your credit card number available when you call. We will notify you by phone if you won an item and will charge your card on file for the purchase amount plus the buyers premium. You will then need to schedule a time within the next 7 days to pickup your merchandise. All items not picked up within that 7 days will be considered abandoned and no refund will be given, no exceptions. We also offer bids by phone from time to time provided prior arrangements are made with our office. Please Note, not all onsite auctions offer good cell phone service and this may not be an option at all auctions. While Little Bull Auction and our staff will do our very best to execute each and every bid, be it by absentee bidding or over the phone, we will not be responsible for any non-execution of any absentee or phone bid. If you can't just live without the item, it is best for you to try and attend the auction in person.
What do I do if I am the executor of an estate and don’t know what to do with the house and the contents?
Little Bull Auction & Sales Co. is the perfect solution for you! Please call our office for a free, no obligation consultation so we can show you how we can help. OR, if you prefer, feel free to Click Here to complete our “Something to Sell” online form and someone from our office will get back with you shortly. Additional info provided below.