In estate sales, it’s never a simple answer.  Online estate sale shopping continues to grow, but onsite traditional estate sales are still the preferred method of liquidating an estate.

Estate sale shoppers still prefer the in-home estate sale experience where they can see the items before committing to purchase, but are traditional on-site estate sale professionals missing out on new audiences they can reach?

In-Person Vs Online Shopping Statistics

It’s no secret that online sales have increased year after year.  While retail shopping tends to increase steadily in the single digits, online sales increase in double digits, year after year. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Statistics.

As an estate sale professional, you don’t want to be left behind and may want to discover the world of online estate sales to increase revenue, broaden your reach and get the highest value for your clients’ items by going outside of your local area and venture online.

To better understand the statistics, we dove deeper to find you some helpful information as you begin your online estate sale journey.

While online sales are increasing in popularity year after year, the preference for online shopping decreases with age, according to research from Statista.

  • Millennials account for 67% of online shoppers
  • 56% of gen-xers prefer to also shop online
  • 41% of baby boomers prefer online shopping
  • 28% of seniors prefer to shop online

These statistics are important if you plan to sell items online and run ads, however, you must also keep in mind the type of item you’re selling.

These statistics may apply to every day new items, clothing, and Amazon type products however,  the statistics may fluctuate if we’re talking about an estate sale online shopping experience.

What Estate Sale Shoppers Say

We wanted to know more, so we visited a few estate sales and talked to shoppers standing in line waiting to enter, here’s what they had to say.

“I shop online for vintage items and estate sale jewelry all the time, it gives me a way to shop for estate sales when there aren’t ones in town that week,” said Karen Buckley – Estate Sale Shopper, California

Other shoppers also shared their preferences for shopping.  Many were skeptical and said “online is not the same!” but others shared the many conveniences they enjoy.

  • The ability to shop online 24/7.
  • The ability to find items they collect outside of their local area.
  • Many online items include FREE shipping.
  • Not having to stand in lines and use their vehicles to travel.
  • Less competition online when compared to onsite estate sales

Hearing all that from shoppers, we wanted to reach out to our estate sale professionals that hold estate sales on a regular basis and see what they had to say about the two options.

What Estate Sale Companies Say

We asked estate sale professionals and members of our private Facebook group formed to bring estate liquidators together in one forum by and here’s what they had to say.

Danny Triplet of Full House Liquidation in Florida and the winner of the most viewed company in Florida on, 8 times in a row for 2019 said:

“My company does not sell online, except a rare item once in a while.  I do see the potential benefits but when weighed with the downsides, the benefit just isn’t worth the time and effort.”

Triplet continued, “I’ve looked at other estate sale companies and auction houses who sell online and I’ve seen their realized results.”

“They’re usually lower or near the same amount my company receives for on-site sales.  The online platform seems to make sense for larger companies that have enough staff members dedicated to only handling online sales.”

Lloyd Swartz with My Auction Addiction in Albuquerque, New Mexico favors the online approach. “We do 3-12 sales a week, it’s a different business model, it’s much more profit-oriented.  We haven’t done an on-site estate sale in 8 years.  Our overhead is tiny compared to a traditional estate sale, but high-end estate sales bring more revenue, for low-end projects, online is about the same as a traditional on-site estate sale.  We are able to charge less and reduce theft concerns.” says Swartz.

Tisha Kulovitz, owner of CricketCapers said “I use a combination, mostly onsite estate sales, but if an item comes along that’s wow or will garner a significantly better price than the local market dictates, I will sell it online.  I also use online selling for items left over after the sale such as furniture and appliances”.

Pros and Cons

Time Constraints

Most estate sales are events that are held over a few days.  The items are expected to be sold, and the client paid quickly.

Online sales by contrast are best conducted over the course of about a week in order to give the sale more exposure and maximize prices through competitive bidding wars.

The effort involved in cataloging each item for sale online can also be a factor, but could also be offset by the need to stage and secure an in-person sale.

Winner: In-person estate sales

Theft and Security

Security at estate sales is a big concern, whether it’s the liability of someone injuring themselves or proper supervision to deter would-be thieves, selling online eliminates the stress of worrying about theft.

Winner: Online estate sales


Depending on your business model, overhead can decrease tremendously with online selling vs in-person estate sales.

Labor costs in staging an estate sale, researching items and having enough estate sale employees readily available during the sale dates are eliminated.

Selling online minimizes the labor involved.  It may require a day to list items for an average size estate sale, but receive the attention you need from buyers beyond your local area.

Winner: Online estate sales


For shoppers, it’s more convenient to be able to browse and bid on items online than it is to have to drive to a sale in person. Busy people with work and family obligations may have limited time to get out and fight traffic to make it to an estate sale on the other side of town. With an online estate sale, those items can be bid on and purchased at any time and from anywhere.

Winner: Online estate sales


With online estate sale software, accounting should be generated for you automatically by the software. When an item or lot sells, the software knows what price it sold for, who bought it, what the tax is, what the commission is, and who that commission should be paid to. In contrast, with an in person estate sale, each sale must be logged by a checker, and then later tallied up manually. There is room here for errors and omissions.

Winner: Online estate sales

Storage & Logistics

With an online estate sale, you have a bit more flexibility about where to store the items because the location doesn’t need to be accessible to the public at large, as is the need when you are conducting an in-person estate sale.

A home that is located in a gated community, or one which does not have adequate parking will not be a suitable location for an in-person estate sale, but is not a problem when conducting an online estate sale.

Winner: Online estate sales

Are online estate sale auctions right for you?

Only you can answer that question.  Diversity is key to the success of any business.

As an estate sale professional, it’s your duty to sell the items of your clients at the highest price possible.

When setting up an estate sale and your local market only brings a fraction of what the item is worth, you’re not serving your business or your client well by including it in the onsite estate sale.

Put the statistics shared with you earlier to work.  Consider selling all or some items online.

In Summary

In an unregulated industry such as estate sales, there is one common understanding among veteran estate sale professionals.

Successful companies maintain a fair pricing strategy for excellent balance.  Giving people good deals while maintaining profitability for the client.

Based on your local area, current supply and demand, among other considerations, you’ll have to make the best decision for your business.

Most Common Online Selling Platforms

  • Facebook Groups & Marketplace (Advertise your in-person estate sale and list items online)
  • Offer Up – Sell items online within a geographical distance
  • Oodle Online – Local online selling platform
  • LetGo – Local online selling app
  • Ebay
  • Etsy (for vintage items only)
  • (specifically designed with estate sale companies in mind)

One unique benefit to the system that is unavailable on any other platform, is that you can advertise a hybrid in-person and online auction at once.

Certain items from the in-person sale may be marked as available online only, and in-person sale customers may purchase other items at a fixed price or be directed to the online sale to place a bid on specific items.

The auction system is also both a software solution and marketing venue in one. All estate auctions posted through the system are automatically posted, emailed, and searchable within the Online Auction section, with exposure to buyer base that has grown to over 1,000,000 monthly visitors. The software has all of the features that are used in the most robust high-end online auction software, including:

  • Auction wide and lot level controls for bid increments, starting prices, reserve prices, commission rates, tax rates, and shipping policies
  • Support for Buy-it-now and timed auctions
  • Bulk item upload via CSV and Excel
  • Invoicing and optional online payment integrations with PayPal and Stripe
  • Consignor and commission tracking and reporting

Use of the timed auction system is included in the price of the membership. There is a small commission fee (as low as 3%) up to a maximum of $100 for sold items. is your resource for free educational information, advertising, and online auctions.

List your company to get maximum exposure with potential clients, list your sale to increase foot-traffic to your upcoming estate sales, or give online estate sales a try.

Ask us about our online auction platform frequented by avid estate sale shoppers nationwide.

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Already an estate sale professional? Join the conversation with the other pros on our private Facebook group dedicated to liquidators.