Five Reasons to Consider an Auction House

Updated on June 3, 2015

By Paul Cooper, Alex Cooper Auctioneers

When you think of an auction house, you probably imagine a gentleman standing at a podium, speaking really quickly as the price continues to go up and audience members raise their hands to place bids on fancy jewelry, expensive furniture and collectible art. While it’s true that sometimes those items are available at auctions, and yes, that gentleman does stand at a podium speaking very quickly, your local auction house probably does a lot more than you know.

Aside from the traditional ways one may think of an auction – from auctioning off inherited jewels (fine, fashion or costume), classic cars or collectible dolls – auction houses can be of use and save you significant time and hassle at various stages of your life. Outlined below are a few situations when you may want to consider using an auction house.

Your nest is big – and empty

Your last kid finally left the nest, and you and your spouse only use three rooms in the house. Part of you wants to keep your dream home, but the other part that spends endless hours cleaning is about ready to move to the retirement community and settle for condo living! Sound about right?

Downsizing after more than 20 years in a house can be a daunting task, but auction houses can take the burden off your shoulders. Some auction houses will come to your home, evaluate your belongings and estimate their value. This can help alleviate the headache of downsizing, as they’ll not only remove agreed upon items, but you can also make money in the process. 

You’ve inherited a collection of items that are just collecting dust

You’ve had several family members leave you a ton of items, some valuable and some you’re not sure about. But, what you do know is that they are starting to eat up space in your house, and as much as you love the sentimental value each item holds, like Aunt Bertie’s porcelain dog collection, they are just collecting dust. And you’re tired of dusting.

Once you are ready to part with those items, an auction house should be the first number you call to help evaluate which items may have value, determine which ones don’t and discuss the best course of action.

You’re a homeowner who needs to sell your house, fast

Selling a home can be a laborious process, from finding the right real estate agent to agreeing on a list price and most importantly, having to keep your house clean every day just in case someone wants to have a look after work. At which time, you now have to meet your spouse for dinner somewhere because you can’t actually go home.

If your spouse is getting relocated, an elderly parent took ill and your current home isn’t able to accommodate their needs, or your daughter is about to have her first baby and a four-hour drive is just way too far, then an auction house may be perfect for you. Some auction houses, like Alex Cooper Auctioneers, also sell homes the traditional way and can tailor a marketing plan that fits within a timeline that works best for your family. In addition to auctioning off or selling the home, auction houses can also sell all or some of the contents of your home – offering a one-stop shop, simplified experience.

Your elderly parents are transitioning into a retirement/nursing home and you’re overwhelmed with items and a house

One day your parents are vibrant and active, but in an instant something can happen suddenly that changes everything. In the event that something unfortunate does occur and you need to move your parents into your home, an assisted living facility or nursing home, auction houses can help with an estate sale and/or handle auctioning off a house – depending on your needs. 

Auctions take to the Internet

On the flipside of the above, if you are looking to purchase items to fill a house, looking for a piece that matches a set you got for your wedding or want to find a one-of-a-kind gift, many auction houses are starting to host online or discovery auctions that contain everything from collectibles to everyday house wares. Auction houses are a great alternative to big box stores and offer items you probably can’t find anywhere else.

Gone are the days of traditional auction houses, a picture that many people probably have instilled in their minds. Like most long-standing industries, auction houses have been making changes to meet the needs of their audiences and make the experience of auctioning or purchasing items easy and accessible, no matter your life situation.

Paul Cooper is Vice President at Alex Cooper Auctioneers, one of the largest auction houses in the mid-Atlantic region. Alex Cooper, which is based in Towson, Md., was founded in 1924 and specializes in the sale of residential, commercial and industrial real estate, as well as antiques, household furnishings, vehicles, office equipment and industrial machinery. Over the last decade, Alex Cooper Auctioneers has handled more than 100,000 private and public auctions.


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