#TBTRareFinds series will take you on an adventure into the culture and trends of the past including antiques, vintage items, art history, jewelry, clothing, collectibles, and other related topics.
Watch #TBTRareFinds Episode 2 Part 2 and learn about choosing what’s best between online auction and estate sale.
Hosted by: George Pizzo
MaryBeth Radeck Is a franchise owner of Caring Transitions in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs working in the Chicago Metro area for five years now. She previously worked as a project director and has a long background in marketing and advertising and promotions.
When looking and trying to decide between an estate sale and an auction, the most important thing for everybody to know is, it has a lot to do with what's in the house. Next is, you really need a professional to come and help you assess that because there are a lot of things in people's homes that don't have the kind of value they used to have. Here are some examples:
Furniture is NOT hot anymore, but there's a glut of it on the market. So many people will call MaryBeth’s team to clear their house of furniture, but actually, the value may be elsewhere.
Things That Are Worn-out
Things that are worn out and things that you wouldn't use anymore are NOT hot. When people are moving, they are trying to discard a lot of things and they'd rather not pay for junk or to throw it into a landfill. But worn-out items don't sell as well and sometimes it's not even worth it to try.
When touring to make a decision about the house, MaryBeth’s team would look if there's enough in the house to pay for a professional to try to sell those items, and a lot of times there's about 20 or 30% of what's in a normal house that's going to generate income for the family. And then sometimes there's a lot that won't. They will assess and try to right-size the efforts to match what the client needs. The most important part of their business is their clients and protecting them. It’s the reason why she loves online auctions because the customers don't walk through the house.
They don’t run an estate sale, and they compete nationally. They ship items because it's a much better and more efficient way to sell collectibles. Even when MaryBeth got a national audience, she can promote to find the people that want to buy a particular item if they aren't already on their list using her extensive knowledge with marketing and promotions.
Auction Items That Sell Well
- precious metals
- branded items
- designer pieces
- high-end branded items
Q: How long does a typical auction run for you?
A: We run them for two weeks. Mostly because after they go live, usually and consistently Tuesday nights at 7:00 PM. We run them for two weeks because we like to give the customer, the national customer base, a chance to see items and start to compete with each other.
We do that for our clients, but we also do that because there are collectors out there and it takes us a week or so sometimes for those collectors to find items. And we want to find as many as possible to drive the prices up for our clients. And, that's why we go for two weeks. Not everyone does that, but that's what we do.
Q: If I'm a client of yours, how does it start? How does it work?
A: We do a free on-site consultation or a video consultation. Whichever works for both of us, with our clients in their homes. We go onsite and photograph items after we agree with the clients on the proposal. Then we go onsite, photograph, go offsite, and do research. And basically because of the type of work we do many times, we'll do collections that need some research.
Like today we're working on a collection of anti pharmaceutical glass-blown bottles with glass labels from the 1800s. So it's an extensive collection from a pharmacist's home and we have to not only do research, but also check to make sure there's nothing caustic, and there are no controlled substances.
We have a pharmacist right now that's looking at our photos to make sure that we pull the bottles, the locks that we've already shot, the lots that have things that might be caustic or dangerous or controlled.
And that's the kind of hidden work that all auctioneer's do. But the more experience you have, the more clients come to you for unique things. The more difficult it becomes the more interesting.
Q: What is the craziest thing or what is it like an experience that you've had that really sticks out?
A: We've sold a pipe organ that a professional organist had installed in their home, it was a huge pipe organ that would go in a church, but because they were both church organists and professionals, they not only had a Steinway piano in their house, that was an antique, but they also had built a second-floor addition to their home just to sell, this pipe organ, which literally needed to be disassembled and shipped to California by the customer.
They had built one in their basement as well. So we sold that for parts. All kinds of crazy interesting things that we run across, and that really makes fun for our customers, but also for us. I made an award for the marketing people who sold it to hold up on my wall. We sold this pipe organ to someone from California for $2,500, which is really unheard of as well. So we have unique things all the time.
So it's so hard to remember exactly which ones are most unique, except for the ones that are most difficult to sell. The piano itself needed to have professionals assess it on video and play it. And it sold it for about $8,000 to someone in the city who had it moved and, and it was in excellent condition. I literally had to run the humidifier on that house to go there and refill the water, just to take care of that piano so that we could sell it.
Q: How long does it take you to put an auction together from when you first meet with the client to closing it?
A: We discover the house first, which means go find all the things that we need to sell. We put those together in a lot. We shoot, we write the text and we go live. We do that in four days. And then the auction goes, it stays live for two weeks. So within three weeks, we can clear the house. We also have charities that we work with as well, so that the house can be cleared and that really helps the realtors.
Q: I can see that you’re not using a cookie-cutter approach? Are you customizing your services for the particular needs or criteria of your customer?
A: Yes. Just recently, there's a family whose mom passed and they don't even live in the state. So they need someone to act like a rent a daughter to go in there and check out what's going on and facilitate the shipping of items to different family members.
Sometimes we just need to discover money like we will find cash regularly in hidden places in the house. The first thing we do is take a photo and send a text to the client so that they know there's cash in the house.
It’s important to make sure that you're working with a reputable company that will return that cash to you. And with the Caring Transitions franchise, that's the kind of operation that we have. There are also stringent standards that we are required to uphold, including the kinds that I've worked with when I was in a Fortune 50 company, which was background checks and making sure that everybody on staff is ethical basically. And I work with other folks in a huge network of 200 people who run other franchises across the country.
Q: I'm going to be running an estate sale next week. What's a major piece of advice that you would give?
A: If I were to give you any advice, it would be to protect your investment, which is your home first and foremost, and then look for a professional. Get some advice, make sure of their background, you know, you look into their references and just interview them like you would a contractor coming into your home. Do that due diligence then you'll find out the best way to sell the things in your home.
Get professional help to look at your situation, your home, and the things in it. Don't just sell things to people who walk through your house and pick your house. Everyone's seen that TV show where there's a picker that will come in and buy things from you. And they're always trying to get the least amount of money. You need a professional to give you the opportunity to compete and to get others to spend more on the things in your home.