Frequently Asked Questions

Auction Bidders:

Q: How do your online auctions work, and what if I win?

A: Buying and bidding on estate items through our online auctions is simple and fun through our CalEstates App or through our website at: We will post all the terms & conditions for each auction, so be sure to read through those each time. (All auctions differ in some way). Some auction items may remain in the home or business where they started, while others will be moved to our secure facility in Pleasant Hill. Either way, won items will be available for easy pick up by you, or your preferred shipper. Please see our Shipping page for ideas. We are happy to assist!

Q: What does it mean to buy estate assets “As Is”?

A: All assets are sold in “As Is” condition with no warranties expressed or implied. Buyers must rely on their own inspections, judgements and due diligence. All interested parties are responsible for completing their own inspections; we provide (by appointment) inspections of any online auction asset to those interested in bidding.

Q: What is a “Buyer’s Premium”?

A: Buyer’s Premiums are an Auction industry standard. A Buyer’s Premium will be added to the successful bid to determine the contract purchase price. For example, if the Buyer’s Premium is 18% and the successful bid is $100.00, the purchase price would be $118.00. The buyers premium is an administrative cost that covers the auction. The Buyer’s premium does not effect the seller’s proceeds.

Q: Where does CalEstates get the auction items?

A: We have sellers from all over the bay area. Families on the move, downsizing, relocating, life circumstances that have changed (death, divorce, move to assisted living…) and most have a lifetime of treasures they need to part with. Many are not able to have estate sales due to location, house sale or restrictions for public sales, so we provide a service where we remove the items, and sell them online for the family. In some circumstances, an estate sale has been done, but the ‘right buyer’ just wasn’t there, so we take those quality items and place them online to a wider audience of buyers!

Q: How do we learn about the auctions? And, specifically, if my particular favorite treasures is coming?

A: We keep a list of interested buyers in our database, and alert people as to new sales & auctions when they arise. We also keep a list that includes ‘areas of interest’, so if you have a specific type of item you collect, we can let you know if those items are in our queue! We don’t share our email list with anyone (why would we?) and only alert you to sales and auctions.

Estate Sellers/Owners:

Q: We aren’t sure if an estate sale or auction is best, how do we find out?

A: Great question! We offer complimentary in home (or business) consultations. Often the best way to find out quickly is simply to call or email us at: office: 925-378-7575 email: In general, estate sales are great if you have a full home – at least to start. If you only have a few select key pieces, online may be the way to go, especially if we want to reach a global audience!

Q: How does CalEstates differ from other Estate Sale Companies or Auction Houses?

A: CalEstates provides one on one assistance for heirs, executors, seniors and those people downsizing who have a lot on their plate and are looking for one point of contact to ease the stress of moving on…we also offer real estate services through Golden Gate Sotheby’s, bringing our clients a full ‘one stop’ ease. In addition, we offer estate appraisals! Estate Liquidations, Estate Auctions, Estate Appraisals, & Real Estate Listings. Our goal is to make your life easier!

Q: How far in advance do we need to plan for an estate sale?

A: The easy answer is: As far as possible! We know that life can change on a dime, and that planning ahead isn’t always do-able, but it certainly helps the bottom line. The more time we have to market your assets, schedule your sale (whether it is online or a live sale) the better. Prices realized always come in higher if we have the time to reach more potential buyers – whether online or for an in-home sale.

Q: At what point do we engage CalEstates? Before we sell the real estate or after?

A: Since we often handle all facets, the real estate, the estate and all of the necessary components mixed in with all of it, before is certainly the best time to engage us! We love structure, schedules and planning, because the outcomes are always much better for our clients. It’s also great to have us see all the assets before you start ‘giving things away’ because you believe they have no value. We have been in business since 1986, let us look first!

Q: What is the fee for placing items up for auction? Is an estate sale cheaper?

A: We always work on a percentage basis, whether it is an estate sale or an auction. The percentages vary in both cases and are generally associated with the price of the item. We are happy to consult with you in person to determine which better suits your particular assets and situation. Our goal is to make as much as possible, creating a win-win!

Q: Who determines the prices for our assets?

A: In an auction, the market determines the price. What we call ‘Fair Market Value’, what the market will bear. In some situations, we will place a reserve (provided by the seller) on certain items. This is the price that, if the asset does not sell, the seller wishes not to sell it. In an estate sale scenario, we do some research to determine best starting prices, and also lean on experience with those particular items. These are termed ‘valuations’ not appraisals. It’s ‘our best guess’ based on what we know. Some sellers provide us with written appraisals, receipts from purchases etc…which we can use as guidelines, but often, they do not reflect the eventual selling price as they were purchased in a retail setting.

Q: Do you work with business professionals (Probate Attorney’s, Trusts, Accountants, Estate Planners)?

A: Yes! We are often contacted by these professionals. They enjoy the fact that we take a lot off of their plate, and that they only have to work with ONE contact, instead of numerous vendors (realtors, contractors, estate appraisers, organizers, asset sales and more). If you are working with a trusted professional, and wish to let them know you would like CalEstates to handle your real and personal property assets, great. We are happy to work with them.