Estate sales can be an adventure for buyers, but for homeowners, they can be time consuming, awkward and emotional. Most people shudder at the idea of strangers traipsing through their home, touching everything and haggling over each item.
However, an online company called Everything But the House (EBTH) is billing itself as an answer to the potential awkwardness of property auctions. The full-service online estate sale marketplace helps homeowners offload their belongings, and will ship the goods to their new owners.
Founded in 2007 by two estate sale veterans, the company boasts more than a million users, with bidders in over 150 countries.
"You call us when you are going through a downsize or loss of loved one situation, we send a team in and we'll coordinate junk removal, items that will be donated and then anything that's left saleable we actually list to our platform," CEO Andy Nielsen told CNBC's "On The Money" in a recent interview.
The initial consultation is free. If you meet EBTH's criteria for sale, they will photograph and pack the items for auction and ship them to their warehouse in Cincinnati. There, the items are appraised, priced and put on auction for 7 days.
"There's no minimum bid, no reserve. So we are exposing these items that are hidden in households to a much larger global audience where we can actually maximize value for our sellers" Nielsen told CNBC, with the entire process taking just 30 days.
EBTH makes its money by taking 40 percent of the total sale, and also charge buyers for shipping. The company says more than 99 pecent of the items on EBTH.com sell. Those that don't could be included in a bigger consignment sale, donated, or returned to the seller.
Once you buy something, there are strict guidelines on returning it. For example, if a painting you bought turns out to be a fraud, or if there's damage that was not visible in the image online, EBTH will work with the purchaser. However, if an item doesn't fit through the door or otherwise can't be accommodated in the home, then it's on the buyer.
Nielsen and his business partners joined EBTH in 2012, and since then has led the company to explosive growth of more than 1,100 percent. Those eye-popping figures were instrumental in helping EBTH to raise $84.5 million in venture capital.
Currently, EBTH has more than 950 employees and operates for sellers in 27 cities across the U.S with plans to expand, Nielsen said.
"Ultimately we have a global opportunity here. Right now it's all about expansion, execution, brand awareness, educating people that this service exists and that we are the ones to provide it to you," he added.