How to Auction Personal Property

••• Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many people have items they need to or want to get rid of. Anything from cars and homes to jewelry and art can be auctioned off in order to raise cash or just be cleared out if they are unwanted. There are online auction sites such as eBay, where items can be listed and sold in an auction. There are also auction houses which specialize in cars, homes, antiques and collectibles where you can take your items to be sold. When you have something you want to auction off, here are the steps you can take to get the best results.

Online Method

Take clear photographs of each item of personal property. If the item is a car, take photographs of the interior and exterior from all sides, and include any marks, blemishes or scrapes. If the item is a home, do the same and take photographs of each room.

Write a description of your vehicle, regarding its performance, comfort level and reliability. Be very honest about your vehicle, otherwise you could be subject to legal proceedings unless you have a “sold as seen” bill of sale. Remember that most states have so-called lemon laws that will protect the buyer, even if you are not a registered trader. For items such as jewelry, describe it clearly and take close up photographs to show detailed parts.

Log on to your account on an auction site, or set up a new account if you do not already have one. There will be instructions on your chosen site, showing you how to register. Compose your listing using the site’s technology. You will have the option to list your item for one to 10 days or more, according to the type of auction you select. Set your starting price and, if you want, your reserve price, which is the lowest acceptable auction price stipulated by the seller.

Offer a viewing day for your vehicle or home. You can write this in the description and advise viewers that they can come and look at the item within your chosen day and time slot.

Offline Method

Take your item of personal property to your local auction house. An assessor will view your item and advise you of when the next appropriate sale will be held.

Leave your item with the auctioneer until the day of the sale. Some places may not let you leave furniture, for example, so you will be required to take it home until the auction day. If your item sells, expect to pay a percentage commission to the auction house. This is usually between 1% and 3% of the final selling price, but will vary among auctioneers.

Sell your home or car by auctioning it yourself. Set up an auction date that is convenient for you. Create and send out leaflets and flyers informing the public of the auction.

Place and advertisement in the local paper to attract buyers. Contact your local county court and ask if you need any special permits to conduct an auction. You may be required to have a maximum amount of attendees.