How many times have you done this: You’re driving along and notice an estate sale sign poster on the side of the road. You realize that you never seem to be able to attend these sales and wonder about everything you are missing. I’ve been to one estate sale in my life, and only because I happened upon it during a run in my neighborhood and dropped in. I have always intended to go to estate sales to look for items for my house, but have never managed to attend.
Now, the estate sale concept has been modernized, thanks to a company called Everything But the House (EBTH). They are an online personal property and estate sale service. They put all the contents of an estate up for sale in an auction website. All bids start at $1 and the auction lasts one week. You can bid and buy anything online from any location. If you are local, you can go pick up your item for free. Otherwise, they will ship it to you.
There are two stories here. One for the buyer and one for the seller.
FOR THE BUYER:
EBTH is a goldmine for buyers, from the well-seasoned estate sale buyer to the casual online shopper. So many times with auction websites, or sites such as eBay or Craig’s List, there is a degree of uncertainty; you are never totally sure what you will get when you buy it. This website is different.
This website can be searched by sale, category or date. All items for sale are beautifully photographed, with many different views. All items are cross-checked for authenticity. All items are described in full, including their condition and state. In other words, this is a legitimate operation. There is an opportunity midway through the online auction to go to the sale in person and see the item you are interested in buying. EBTH holds a six hour open house for potential buyers to come in and survey the merchandise. For example, if cars are for sale, people have been known to bring their mechanic.
Here is a sampling of their latest auction items:
For the Home
Accessories and Clothing
After purchasing the items, you have three options: pick up, delivery or shipping. The pick up is free; the other two options are done for a fee.
FOR THE SELLER:
These sales are usually the product of a major change of life event: death, divorce or downsizing. EBTH comes in for a consultation and assesses the contents of the home. They ask you to leave the home “as is” to ensure that everything of value is discovered and inventoried properly. Since this is usually an emotional time for the seller, they are careful to not treat everything as a possession in the house; rather, they ask that some of the most valuable items be kept by the family, as these items represent people, not things.
Some items are automatically thrown away or donated. But the majority of the possessions are listed — everything from cars, to paper products, to old newspapers, can be sold. Someone’s trash is always someone else’s treasure.
EBTH then stages the house and professionally photographs everything. They inventory all items that will be listed on their auction and then cross check it to guarantee authenticity and value.
Items are then placed on the website for live bidding. Midway through the week-long auction, on day three or four, there is an on-premise open house, where bidders can come see, touch and feel the things they are bidding on. When the auction ends, the winning bid receives their item, either through pick up, delivery, or shipping.
The end product: the house is emptied, ready to be sold and the client gets 65% of the profit. EBTH takes 35%. That’s seems like a fair deal for everything sold in a week.
Their sales are remarkably successful. In Louisville, in all of their sales to date in 2014, they have only NOT sold 3 items. With a database of 80,000 bidders, more eyes are on this merchandise than there would ever be in a typical estate sale. Bidding is 24/7 for an entire week. It is truly the estate sale for modern times.
EBTH has offices all around the midwest and are quickly expanding south. Right now, they have offices in Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Nashville and Indianapolis. They have plans currently to expand into Atlanta, as well. If you would like to enlist their services on selling a house, you do need to live in or nearby to one of these cities. However for buyers, anyone can purchase off the website, and EBTH encourages this with domestic and international shipping.
This is a win/win situation for both buyers and sellers alike. If you are wondering what happens to the house, well they do not sell that. They are not realtors. But, they do have the house in shape for a realtor to come in and list it.
For more information about Everything But the House, visit their website: www.ebth.com