Two weeks ago we gave our opinion on how to clear the contents of a house quickly. This week we want to give you our opinion on how to clear the contents of a house so that you maximize the value that you get from its contents.

​First, contact your realtor to make sure both of you are on the same page about selling furniture. You may want to have a buyer pick up a piece of furniture after your realtor takes pictures of the house to market it.

Second, define your goal for clearing the house by determining if you want to:

  1. Clear the contents of the house quickly?
  2. Maximize your earnings?

Herein we are going to discuss how to maximize your earnings. To know that this post applies to you, you’ll want evidence that some contents in the house are actually valuable. Find an appraiser; we recommend doing so through the American Society of Appraisers. An appraiser will give you a rough idea of how much your belongings are worth. If you have a lot of valuables, we recommend that you explore selling them through several different channels.

We believe that if you don’t have a lot of expensive items, then you should start your sale process by hosting an estate sale. However, if you have some valuables that you want to maximize your earnings from, then sell them through other channels. Rare art, guns, valuable collectables, cars, antiques, designer rugs, expensive jewelry, and farm equipment are examples of items where you should explore the best marketplace. There isn’t a hard and fast rule as to the value of an item that you should explore which marketplace to sell it, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Difference in commission amounts – could you earn more money by choosing a marketplace that charges a lower commission?
  • Transportation costs – how much money will you spend to transport the item?
  • Your time – what’s your time worth?
  • Quality of the marketplace – some marketplaces may be able to generate better demand for your item (e.g. very expensive items require a unique marketplace).

When in question about which marketplace to use, we advise our clients to start their research by calling online auctions, auction houses, online consignment sites, and consignment stores to question them about selling a piece that they want to get rid of. People who buy expensive items through these channels typically trust them because they have secure payment mechanisms. In other words, the likelihood of the buyers and the sellers getting scammed is very low. That’s why we suggest approaching these four channels over Ebay and Craigslist to sell valuable items.

Online auction

  • There are two main players, Soetheby’s and Christie’s. At the time of writing this article, Soetheby’s prices were lower than Christie’s. Sotheby’s charges 20% on the first $100,000 in sale value and 12% on the sale value that exceeds $100,000. You’ll want to double-check the terms that an auction house sets for your items.


  • You’ll have to locate your local auction house. The fees are generally between 20%-50% of the sale price but check with you local house for actual pricing.

Online consignment

  • The main player in the online consignment industry is TheRealReal. It charges between 15% and 60% of the item’s sale price. It’s a big range, but the charge depends on the item and its value.


  • You’ll have to locate a local consignment store. Consignment stores generally charge between 10% and 60% of the item’s sales price.

Because prices vary through all of these channels, you’ll want to call around to get quotes on what you want to sell. You’ll also want to inquire about how often these channels sell merchandise similar to the one that you’re proposing to sell—you want to choose a seller that is familiar with selling the item that you have.

Don’t be afraid to explore other channels as well. You want to find a marketplace that best suits your listing. For instance, if you have a motorcycle to sell, consider selling it on a website that specializes in selling used bikes, such as Cycle Trader. Do you have a used car? Try selling it through Autotrader.

These fees are absurd. If that’s what you’re thinking after you’ve called the auction houses and the consignment shops, then consider using Ebay and Craigslist to sell your merchandise, especially if they are everyday items. You may pay a lower price to sell them through either of these sites, and possibly nothing at all. However, we would not advise that you use these sites for substantial transactions for a couple of reasons: (1) buyers may be reluctant to bid on your item because they may not trust you; and (2) you could be scammed. Ebay and Craigslist are a great way to sell run-of-the-mill merchandise because the money at risk is very low.

Once you’ve sold all the items you’d like through auction sites or consignment shops, consider hosting an estate sale. For an overview of what to do from here, reference our last post Clearing the Contents of a House Quickly.

If you’re hesitant to pay the fees of an estate seller, you may want to host an estate sale or yard sale on your own. Afterwards, call a junk removal service or take whatever’s left to a thrift store first, then to a recycle center, and lastly to a dump. If you do all that yourself, you’ll deserve a pat on the back.

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