Running Estate Sales on Ebay Online, fast, efficient and effective
As eBay reaches the 20 year mark from it's humble beginnings as the brain child of Pierre Omidyar which was started as legend has it as a way to sell an iconic PEZ dispenser. I thought it might be interesting to look at an aspect of the site's niche which is often overlooked or not known.
Estate sales on Ebay have become a major force in the art and antiques market. While you can of course buy I-Phones, cars, designer clothes and power-tools on the site. You can also buy fine Tiffany glass and authentic Ming Bronzes at auction or through fixed Buy-It Now listings. The range of dealers specializing in estate sales and property settlement is unmatched anywhere.
Estate Sales on Ebay Online, Much More than Yard Sale Seller's
During the last 20 years eBay has become for many sellers the platform of choice for handling the sale of estate property with emphasis on antiques. Today thousands of eBay antique dealers work with attorneys and executors around the US, Canada and in the European Union.
As a result they sell everything from fine sterling silver to Chinese antiques and works of art. These sellers not only handle the typical bric-a-brac you might expect, but also sell items with prices ranging into tens of thousands of dollars on a regular basis.
What might come as a surprise to some, thousands of these eBay antiques sellers are full time, experienced dealers- appraisers with decades of experience. They use the site for its low costs relative to other options, it's vast reach to very broad market. This presents the opportunity to realize as much on eBay as they would through shops and auction houses. It also can be done in a fraction of the time. Conducting estate sales on eBay makes all the sense in the world, its why tens of thousands of dealers use the site.
eBay offers 30% Lower Costs, Faster Sales and Better Transparency
What was once the domain of larger local or international auction houses such as Christie's or Sotheby's, eBay as a venue now goes toe to toe with them all for liquidating estates and collections of art and antiques. The great part is of course these estate sales on Ebay also run 24 hours a day across the globe with bidding periods as long as ten days.
Selling through a traditional gallery or a large auction house typically takes three to eight months to sell off an estate.
On eBay it can usually be completed in a matter weeks with the same or better results. Auctioneers hate hearing this, but if you've ever handled an estate and used a gallery or auction house you already know it's the truth.
These results can also be achieved at a much lower cost to the estate, typically around 30% less. Traditional auction gallery's typically charge anywhere from 40% to 45% per item when you include the Buyer's Premium and Seller's Commissions. (not including a 1.5% insurance charge and photo fees which can run anywhere from $200 to $600 per item.)
Like regular auctions, eBay auctions are also done publicly, this kind of transparency permits executors to see exactly what an item sells for to track payment and agreement terms.
Why Professional Antique and Art Dealers Use eBay
Nearly all experienced dealers know a lot about auctions and auction houses. Many these days, use the business model of buying inventory at traditional LIVE auctions, shops, estate sales and resell on eBay almost 100%. Not many years ago, before eBay, dealers would build up inventory from all sources available and then try to unload it all. Often using a combination of shops, Antique shows, auction houses and directly to other dealers. Those days are now in the dark ages.
In general using eBay makes more business sense than waiting and dealing with an auction house. 99.99% of the antiques sold in the United States sell for under $50,000. Through eBay dealers can get items sold in under two weeks, instead of waiting months on end using other outlets. Running estate sales on Ebay online is clearly the best approach in today's market
The truth is, most dealers today use eBay for buying and/or selling in some way or another. Many major big league dealers in New York, London and Paris sell on eBay regularly, they do however often use some rather odd ball names to avoid being known to utilize the site.
Why even Sotheby's is Now Having Estate Sales on Ebay
It was recently announced that traditional live auctioneers are now being permitted to list things on eBay coinciding with their own auctions, including Sotheby's. In other words you can bid at Sotheby's THROUGH eBay. As they say, if you cannot beat them, join them.
They want to be on the site for a reason, it's where the buyers are and they have lost market share to the site.(though they hate to admit it) Will it work? Probably not, live auctioneers offer little but an additional layer of costs to the transaction for both the seller and buyer's.
It of course begs the question, why consign to a live auctioneer who's only going to offer the stuff as part of a LIVE Auction in four months, when it can be sold immediately and directly for lower costs on eBay through a good eBay dealer with a large following?
Whether or not the plan will work or can be made to work is anyone's guess, reading between the lines, however this change is an admittance to who is winning after 20 years since the eBay sold that PEZ dispenser. For now, conducting estate sales on Ebay is the way to go.
About US: plcombs, Asian Art and Antiques
We've been dealers and appraisers in the antiques business since the 1970's. Yes we handle estates and handle estate sales on Ebay as well.