Art Advisors and Appraisers


Art & Finance

Downsizing: How to Attain the Highest Return on The Sale of Your Collection


Whether you're looking to declutter your home or part with the household contents of a loved one, the process is never easy and never quick. From advertising, to pricing, to executing the sale, the process can be physically and emotionally draining.

Having a professional manage the estate will ensure that the process progresses smoothly and efficiently, with minimal obligations and requirements on behalf of the seller. Hiring a professional also ensures that valuables are sold in the appropriate markets (i.e. auction house or gallery), yielding the highest possible return for the client.

Below are the three key reasons why a consulting a professional is advisable

1) Properly Identifying your possessions

We've all heard the stories of some lucky individual purchasing a knick-knack at an estate sale that ended up being a highly collectible object valued at hundreds or even thousands of times its original purchase price. As sellers, we don't want to be on the losing end of this transaction. While it may seem tedious, it is important to inspect every item being sold to ensure you attain the highest possible return.

2) Know Where to Sell


Not all markets are created equal. Potential returns vary considerably based upon the chosen market. When selling your valuables, it is important to understand what is properly suited for a tag sale, and what is deserving of additional attention.  We at Arcadia Appraisals are deeply familiar with the contemporary art market and work diligently to ensure that your possessions are sold in the manner which yields the highest results, while also keeping length of sale and incurred expenses in mind.  We work closely with auction houses and dealers to negotiate the consignment and sale of these high-value items. Further, we develop of own research to develop a cost-benefit analysis regarding the distribution of such valuables through various channels of sale.  

3) Know Your buyers

Most estate sales are sources of fresh to market goods for antique dealers, interior decorators, and the personal bargain hunters. Due to the nature of such orderly liquidations (fast paced and short-lived), prices much be listed accordingly. You must price to sell. In doing so, you must ensure that your pricing structure leaves enough meat-on-the-bones for potential resale (if you price too high, perhaps letting personal biases impact your pricing, you'll likely see your items go unsold). That being said, the in-home tag-sale is the most cost effective option, as it eliminates moving costs, promotional costs, and insurance premiums. 

By contrast, auction houses typically provide sale estimates (i.e. $4,000-6,000). These numbers are not guarantees, but generalized estimates. Oftentimes, these numbers are manipulated to either, entice a seller to consign with the institution, or it may be lowered to entice buyers to bid competitively. While the auction house typically takes somewhere between 10%-20% of the hammer price, they are able to sell to a collector base which will likely yield higher results than other methods. Though it's common to see lots go for well above the high-end estimate, it is far more common to see them go below. If you plan on selling something at auction, I recommend that you be comfortable for it selling at two-thirds the low end estimate--anything else should be seen as a pleasant surprise. 


The downsizing process can be exceptionally difficult emotionally, physically, and financially. In hiring an unbiased professional to consult regarding the valuation and sale of your collection you can alleviate the stress and guarantee profitable results.