auction company commission rate

Why Shopping for Lowest Commission Rates is a Bad Way to Pick an Auction Company

Looking to hire an Auction Service or Estate Sale Service? Here are some reasons why shopping around for the lowest commission rate can be misleading. 

In the world of estate sales and auctions, finding the lowest commission rate can be tempting. We often hear people ask, “What is your commission rate?” Many folks are seeking the lowest rate, hoping to maximize their sale outcome. However, in a pursuit for the cheapest rate, it is very important to consider the potential consequences of prioritizing cost over quality of service and other factors that may impact your sale. Cheap service often leads to poor outcomes. We want to make sure that you are getting the best overall value when choosing a company to hire. In this article, we will explore why shopping around for the lowest consignment rate may not be a wise way to approach the decision of who to hire for estate sale and/or auction services.

The Temptation of Low Commission Rates

At first glance, the prospect of an auction house or estate sale company offering a commission rate below 25% might seem like an excellent deal. Who wouldn’t want to pay less in commission and potentially keep more of the proceeds from their valuable items? However, before giving in to this temptation, it is crucial to understand the pitfalls that often accompany a seemingly attractive offer. At Legacy, we offer competitive and fair rates with proper tiered discounts for selling your high value items.

The Hidden Costs

Estate sales and auctions involve a series of processes and services, some of which may incur additional fees. When a consignment rate appears remarkably low, it is essential to ask whether there are other charges or fees you may face. These costs can significantly impact your overall sale outcome, making a seemingly cheap deal less attractive. At Legacy, we work purely on a commission basis, and there are no hidden costs.

High Buyer’s Premiums

Most people who are new to auctions don’t realize that auction houses charge the buyers an additional premium on items they win in the auction. Some auction companies will attract new sellers with a low commission rate, but they use a really high buyer’s premium of 20% or more to make up the difference. They often hide this information from sellers because they know it could be a dealbreaker. This will naturally decrease your hammer prices and lead to a less successful auction. When other companies are charging twice as much in buyer’s premium, this can lead to upwards of 50% lower prices for you.

Quality of Service

Commission rates are often indicative of the quality of service offered by the auction house. Low rates may reflect a lack of resources, expertise, or investment being used in the auction process. This can result in cheap service and ultimately lead to a less successful auction. Also, buyers require a high level of customer service too. They can usually tell when a company has poor service, which means they may abstain from participating in the sale or auction. We often hear our customers tell us that they won’t buy from certain companies due to past negative customer encounters.

Marketing and Promotion

A successful sale heavily relies on effective marketing and promotion. Companies that offer the lowest consignment rates may not allocate sufficient resources to promote your items adequately. This could limit the visibility of your items to potential buyers, which ultimately impacts the final sale prices. At Legacy Auctions, we have a 20-year digital marketing expert on staff (See Marketing FAQs below).

Experience and Expertise

Experience and expertise in the auction industry are invaluable. Estate auctions often involve unique and valuable items that require specialized knowledge for optimal handling and marketing. Low-cost auction houses may lack the necessary expertise, putting your items at risk. If they don’t understand the potential value of your items, they probably won’t feature or even list them properly. Your items may not receive the attention and proper auction estimates, leading to potential financial losses.


A fair commission rate is a good incentive for a company to earn you the best possible prices. If you are negotiating for a cheap rate, or selecting a company with a cheap service, this often means they will not be incentivized to do the job at a high level.

Auction House Facilities

The facilities and resources available to estate liquidators often play a significant role in the auction process. Low-cost auction houses may lack the necessary infrastructure to handle, store, and display valuable items in a secure and professional manner.

Handling Valuables

The proper handling of valuable items is critical. Low-cost auction houses may cut corners in this regard, risking damage to your valuables or even their loss.

Transparency and Communication

Transparent communication throughout the auction process is vital. Low-cost auction houses may not prioritize open and clear communication, leading to misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. Our staff is very diligent about answering any concerns and even making adjustments to auction catalogs if further information is provided or discovered.

Our Motto at Legacy Auctions:

“We would rather you earn 70% of a $100 sold price, versus 90% of a $50 sold price.”


In conclusion, shopping around for the best deal is natural, and finding the company with the lowest consignment rate may seem like a good idea. However, prioritizing quality, expertise, and transparency is essential to ensuring a successful and profitable estate sale or auction experience. Your legacy and your family’s legacy is too important to leave in the hands of a cheap service provider. While we may not be the cheapest, our guarantee is that we will provide you with the best overall value and results.

How can I assess the reputation of an estate auction house?

Customer testimonials and reviews are excellent indicators of an auction house’s credibility. Additionally, you can research their track record and past auctions.

How do you promote auctions?

We use premium platforms with over 12 million registered bidders who can search for items in our auctions. We also have a private network of over 10,000 of our regular bidders and collectors who receive notifications when we launch an auction. Lastly, we run highly targeted digital advertising using proven campaigns that we have tested for the last 5 years. Our ad campaigns will add many additional registrations, increasing the chance of bidding wars.

Why are online auctions better than traditional live local auctions?

The math is simple. More bidders = higher hammer prices. With a global audience, we will bring in 20X to 100X more bidders than a local auction. Local auctions can be a fun experience, but you are limited to bidders in your local area who have to be available to visit your location on auction day and want to spend hours waiting to bid on the items they want. Online auctions are simply more convenient and more desirable for most collectors.