22 June 2018

Deceased estates: What to do with all the assets and how to know what’s valuable

| Rachel Ziv
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Alastair Swayn

The death of prominent Canberra architect Alastair Swayn made headlines last month, when it was revealed that the proceeds from the sale of the Estate would be given to his foundation, which supports young architects and designers.

But what you may not know is that the Estate includes a collection of modernist assets which are being auctioned off on Allbids this month.

Andrew Whitehead, a certified valuer who works with Allbids says, “Being an architect, Alastair had many items in his house that are functional but have a definite design pedigree. He obviously spent time choosing pieces that played exceptionally well with the space he lived in.

The house in itself is a rare find, but it’s been fantastic to be able to leave the pieces in their natural state inside the home so bidders can view them the way Alastair displayed them. Anyone wanting to have a look can attend the open home, and each piece has a barcode which corresponds with the online Allbids listing. After the house sale we will have one special viewing right before the hammer goes down.”

Deceased estate auction

The auction includes a range of Italian designer furniture, Danish lighting, artwork, personal objects and even a collection of high end Italian silk ties. Everything is up for grabs, un-reserved, on Allbids until 7pm on the 30th March.

Online auctioning has become a very popular avenue for handling the assets from a deceased estate.

Rob Evans, CEO of Allbids says, “The process is really quite simple, and the return can be exceptional. At no cost, we send a valuer out to the house to go through the items, talk with you and give you an idea of what it should sell for. Where possible it’s always good to leave everything in the home during the auction, so people can view them in their natural state.

We’ll catalogue each item, photograph it and then market it online for you. Because we are working on commission it’s always in our best interest to obtain the best possible price for the seller.”

Andrew Whitehead, experienced valuer says, “Ethically, auctioning ticks a lot of boxes for Will executors. When you piecemeal a collection and sell it on classifieds sites, to a pawn broker or through a garage sale, you have a lot less chance of obtaining market value, which for beneficiaries should be quite important. Auctioning also makes it easy for anyone interested – family, friends, acquaintances – to see what is on offer.

The other important point is that you don’t often know what’s valuable. I’ve reviewed many items that people think are valuable but aren’t, and then I find a piece in the back of a cupboard that’s worth a fortune. You just never know.”

You just never know is something many people are familiar with, following the increasing popularity of TV shows such as Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Brokers.

A month ago Allbids managed the sale of two local estates with a vast collection of Asian antiques. Andrew, who valued them, knew they were valuable but could never have anticipated the results that were achieved.

“We put the collection on the website and advertised it locally, as well as overseas. Bidders came from everywhere, including New York and Singapore. We ended up selling a pair of antique Chinese ivory carvings for just over $30,000 and a Chinese scroll painting for $23,000.”

Chinese Ivory Carvings

Asian antiques have exploded in value in the past decade, with many wealthy Chinese wanting to spend their money buying back items of Chinese heritage sitting in Western collections.

“We have a lot of highly educated people in Canberra, many with political or diplomatic backgrounds, and they have fascinating collections,” says Rob. “Often people head to Sydney auction houses because they think it’s a bigger market and therefore a better place to sell. However, the big city markets tend to be oversupplied.

There are many collectors in Canberra with money to spend, and they are very happy to be able to find quality antiques and collectables locally. This means more money in the seller’s pocket, and a lot less hassle worrying about moving their assets interstate.”

And Rob’s tips for getting the best price on your assets?

“Start with a low price and let the market determine the worth. Auctioning online means people from all over the world can buy your assets. We do our part in making sure that all of our items are properly catalogued, so that when collectors search for what we’re selling, they find it. And often specialist collectors have their own understanding of how valuable something is going to be in the future, so they pay a much higher price than even we may anticipate.”

Those in the process of handling a deceased estate are welcome to contact Allbids for a free valuation on 6239 2262 or visit Allbids.com.au.

The Alastair Swayn auction runs until the end of the month.

This is a sponsored article, though all opinions are the author’s own. For more information on paid content, see our sponsored content policy.

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“Deceased estates: What to do with all the assets and how to know what’s valuable”

Not only deceased estates, but when people downsize too. My parents didn’t have anything extremely valuable as in the article above, but they had some things with a little value. I spent time on the internet checking out the value of a few more interesting items and then I was able to put a fair value on them. My parents held a garage sale before they moved to a retirement unit. Out the front of their house it appeared to be wall to wall with antique dealers, waiting for the hour the garage sale opened. I expected them to be trying to get in earlier, but they were polite and waited to the advertised time; then they were in there quickly. Having researched the value of the more interesting items was of assistance when the antique dealers attempted to lower the price of items which were already set at good prices. Being able to quote the price of what the item sells for online and demonstrating they are already getting it at a discount (for saving the inconvenience of needing to advertise it online and then package it up and send it to the buyer) stopped most of the haggling and they paid the money. Everyday items went to the general public for bargain prices, to get rid of them. Bigger furniture was advertised for sale elsewhere and sold separately.

A more valuable collection had been sent to a specialised auction some time before.

I was told of a horror incident, by a tenant of a house that was full of historical papers. The elderly owner left the house and contents to the church. They sold off the house and furniture, but figured no-one would want the papers and burnt the lot. The tenant, who had read some of the papers, told me of her horror in learning what had happened. Hand painted diaries and the like made by a sailor on a sailing ship as he travelled the world. Apparently they were of a very good standard and extremely interesting. The tenant had figured they would be presented to places such as the National Library. She was extremely shocked to hear all the papers had been burnt.

Maryann Mussared8:50 pm 10 Mar 17

At some stage in our lives, we all have to face up to selling things we love. I have used an auctioneer on a number of occasions and there are costs involved, but the business model works well. Auctioneers have customers, and if they are online, such as Allbids, they have a lot of potential customers. I recently downsized and did something I swore I would never do again – I had a garage sale. I sold off some things that were quite precious in terms of memories, but I found knowing who purchased some things, and I was lucky not to have to deal with any hagglers, made giving up so much easier. However, that pathway isn’t always so easy and involves quite a bit of effort. Seeking professional assistance is a very good option at a time when we are often forced to make serious decisions. A good option for anyone who finds themselves in a difficult decision.

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