Taking Your Antiques To Auction: 7 Need-To-Know Tips


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Antique owners look forward to auctioning off their items and making a pretty profit. Items in your house could sell for thousands of dollars, or you might just want to eliminate clutter. Regardless, auctions are an excellent way to unload your stuff. 

Auctions can be intimidating if you’ve never been. There are steps you need to take before auction day arrives. Use these seven need-to-know tips to get the most out of your auctioned items.  

1. Research Your Antiques

The first tip is to research your antiques. Use various websites to compare similar items and see how much others are selling them for. For example, Flea Market Insiders has valuable insight into popular antique items and their worth. Do you collect comics? The first Batman comic book ranges between $300,000 and $500,000, depending on market conditions. 

2. Contact An Appraiser

The value of your antiques can significantly differ based on supply and demand. Ask an appraiser to value your items if you want an accurate estimate. These professionals have industry experience and can tell you when and where your antiques will sell best. You’ll likely have to pay appraisers for their time. Expect to pay a flat fee or an hourly rate of $200 or more. 

The cost may seem steep, but it’s worth the price if you think your item has significant value. The appraiser’s valuation is handy because you’ll have a better idea of your reserve price — the minimum you set for buyers. 

3. Learn The Auction Types

Next, you’ll need to know the types of auctions. Your selection will affect your success because each has a different bidding process. The most common types are:

  • English: When you imagine auctions, you likely think of the English version. Here, the antique starts at a low price and increases incrementally. The auctioneer raises the bid and stops when nobody wants to top the selling price.
  • Dutch: Dutch auctions take the opposite approach. Here, the auctioneer starts at a price well above value. Then the price decreases and stops after the first bidder accepts the price.
  • Silent: Silent auctions are unique because there’s no audible participation from the crowd. The bidders silently place a bid without knowing how many others want the item and how much they’ve offered. 

4. Find An Auction House 

There are a couple of ways to find an auction house. You can select an in-person venue for a hands-on experience. Alternatively, you can use online auction sites like eBay if you can’t travel to an in-person location. 

If you have low-value items, your best bet might be to find a local auction because they’ll have low fees and increase your profits. However, high-value items may sell better at famous auction houses. Be vigilant because these companies set a minimum valuation for your items. 

5. Consider Consignment

There are alternative ways to sell your antiques. Some people elect to consign their items. This process involves giving them to a third-party vendor and allowing them to sell on your behalf. After selling, you’ll receive a portion of the profits. Antique sellers often choose consignment because it’s less stressful and more straightforward than an auction.  

You only need to bring your items to the consignment shop and arrange a price point with the seller. The consignee will handle the sorting and selling for you. There are drawbacks to consignment — primarily the seller’s commission. They may charge 50% or more, leaving you with a much lower bottom line. 

6. Show Up To The Auction

If you commit to the auction route, book your spot early and show up on auction day. You’ll take in all the excitement and get a chance to profit from your antiques. For example, say the highest bidder doesn’t reach your reserve price. 

After the bidding, you can renegotiate with the buyer and get a better deal. Attending the auction also allows you to see how interested the bidders are. 

7. Know The Fees

Auctions are a fantastic way to make money. However, you should understand the fees beforehand, such as:

  • Seller’s commission: The auction house gets a portion of each item you put up for bidding.
  • Advertising: Auctions are only as successful as the buyers. The organizers often charge an advertising fee to increase public interest in the items up for bid.
  • Insurance: Your items may need transportation across long distances. It’s wise to insure your antiques for the trip because accidents could happen on the road. 

Selling Your Prized Antiques

Auctions are fascinating opportunities to buy and sell prized possessions, but the process can be tricky for beginners. Use these seven tips to understand your antiques and how you should approach auction day.

About The Author

Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about cars, fitness, the outdoors and more. Check out @TModded for regular updates! 

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