Sold!: Auctioneer uses several methods to get the word out

Karin Costa inspecting a Thomas Hunt painting which was auctioned off by her business.

Karin Costa inspecting a Thomas Hunt painting which was auctioned off by her business.

The auction business has been evolving.

According to Karin Costa, an auctioneer and appraiser in northern Nevada and northern California and owner of Karin Costa Auctions, she has seen the industry change from being historically focused on estate auctions to an increase in moving sales.

Eighty percent of her clients hire her for this purpose. Many are downsizing to smaller homes, RVs or going overseas. About 30 percent of her clients are transitioning into independent or assisted living.

“When people are moving they have a lot of other tasks that need to be done,” Costa said. “I streamline the process. An individual could do it on their own, but to research the price of each piece in their home and to individually sell each piece can be a daunting process.”

She runs the business with her husband, Steve Costa. They work with clients to appraise the value of their items based on prior knowledge of the going rate in the second-hand market or through research.

“It is overwhelming for many sellers to go through each item,” Costa said. She explained that many items have sentimental value. “Since I do not have any attachment to the items being sold, I can quickly determine the value and prepare the items to be sold.”

“This allows the sellers to move a lot more efficiently,” Costa said.

Costa connects sellers with interested bidders on live and online venues. She does this through press releases, radio advertisements and other mass marketing tactics.

Costa listed three main benefits to hiring an auctioneer agent as opposed to holding a yard sale or trying to sell the items themselves.

First, auctions allow for a broader base of marketing and attracts buyers who are out of the area. Second, auctions are a longer time span. Marketing time for an auction varies but is typically between 14 and 21 days. Lastly, auctions don’t get the “hit or miss buyer.”

Auctions also offer buyers a more cost-efficient options than buying retail.

“Why pay retail prices, especially when you are trying a new hobby, setting up a dorm room or apartment or have a one-time project?” Costa said.

She has five main categories of popular bidding items that she looks for: fine and costume jewelry, anything that is made of gold or silver, classic cars, fuel-efficient cars and firearms.

Costa gives each seller a unique quote for her auctioneer services based on the size of the job and the amount of marketing and time it will take.

Items that do not sell remain the property of the seller. Karin Costa Auctions can give the sellers guidance on items that should be thrown away and items that can be donated and which charities will accept the items.

Costa identified one of the challenges of her business is telling her clients that an item will not sell for as much as they expected.

“The challenge is to tell the seller that the market has changed and that they can’t expected a large amount of money for a certain item,” Costa said. “It is very hard to tell people that items that they have inherited are not desirable.”

The way people are bidding on auction items is also changing.

Within the last year, Karin Costa Auctions has created an online presence where people from all over the world can bid. According to Costa, sellers and buyers for her business have tripled within the last six months. This new platform allows her to extend past a regional market and into a global arena.

“The future of auctions is online,” Costa said.


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