It’s a question many people are asking. Where to sell Antiques. What are the best Estate Sale Companies? Are there Antique Dealers Near Me who might buy my possessions. Who offers reliable Antique Appraisals? I have answers. But before we skip to the last page of the book, let’s examine why this question is being asked with increasing frequency.
Where to Sell Antiques: 5 Recommendations
Don’t skim past this preamble. Why? Simply put, when you are considering where to sell antiques, you have to understand the current market. It’s 2022, and the largest generation of Americans, known as The Baby Boomer Generation, is currently down-sizing, moving into Assisted Living, or simply passing away. And their relatives are faced with selling pieces no one in the family wants.
Which does not mean those pieces are not valuable or desirable. Rather, many children of Baby Boomers, or Generation X born between 1965 and 1980, have already filled their own homes and simply don’t have room for more possessions, regardless of the rarity or value. And do their children, or the “millennial generation” want those pieces? That remains to be seen.
So, in the near term, sellers must realize that there is a glut in the market. There’s LOTS of inventory available. And remembering basic principles of economics, scarsity drives the prices up, while quantity drives prices down.
But don’t be discouraged. There’s a tremendous amount of buying and selling going on!
Which leads me back to the original question, and the title of this piece: Where to Sell Antiques: 5 Recommendations. I’m going to take you through the following options:
- Working with “Brokers” or Advisors
- Auction Houses
- Consignment Stores
- Direct Sales to Antique Dealers
- Estate Sales
Working with an Antique “Broker” or Advisor
An Antique “Broker” or Advisor is much like working with a Real Estate Broker. They are experts in the market, and will assist you making the most money by matching your goods with the best places to sell them, whether it’s an auction house, a consignment store, a collector, or an estate sale
Advisors often will want to meet with you in person if at all possible, but can also begin the assessment process via a phone call, and likely an exchange of pictures.
I work closely with a wonderful Advisor, and if you are interested in learning more, please email me at marythecuriouscowgirl@Gmail.com .
If you believe some of your pieces are of high value, I’d advise you to get a written appraisal. Remember that “family stories” about the value or provenance of a piece does not equal a true appraisal.
Written appraisals can be expensive. Most professionals will charge $100 to $300 or more an hour to look over your goods, do some research, and write up a detailed valuation. If you’d like a ballpark figure, you can ask an appraiser whether he or she can look the item over and give you a rough idea of what it might be worth. Expect to pay for at least an hour of their time.
How To Sell Antiques Through A Specialized Auction House
If you are certain, or an Appraiser determines that your artifacts or collections are top-notch, consider approaching Christie’s or Sotheby’s, or another premium auction house. Keep in mind those firms are very particular and look for objects that are exceptional in their age, condition, rarity or provenance.
Since most of us (myself included) don’t have a houseful of items like that, second- and third-tier auction houses are very viable alternatives that still reach a worldwide market. Look for auction houses with experience in your type of goods. You don’t want an auctioneer specializing in toy soldiers selling your fine crystal. Identifying the best Auction House can be a valuable service that Advisors can provide!
By specialized, I mean an auction house that only sells specific antiques and collectibles. The house can specialize in a single type of item for example Stout Auctions sells only toy trains, or a range of items like Heritage Auctions sells coins, stamps, comic books, and other small collectibles.
Will and I attend Auctions like these all the time, in person and on-line, and have acquired many wonderful pieces to add to our own collections!
There are also auction houses that sell antiques but don’t specialize. They are usually local houses that hold antique sales periodically through-out the year. If you’re selling furniture or a small number of items worth between $50 and $500 these houses can be a good option, but will rarely bring the money of a more specialized auctioneer.
Let an Advisor like those I work with help you find the best fit for what you are selling! Contact me to learn more!
How to Sell Antiques via Consignment Shops
If you have designer-brand clothing, accessories, or jewelry to sell, consider one of the new virtual consignment shops that specialize in high-end fashion, such as TheRealReal.
Many stores now have an online presence, so more shoppers can see your items. There are also some consignment stores that exist solely online.
Direct Sales to Antique Dealers
As an Antique Dealer myself, I get contacted frequently by folks wanting to sell specific pieces.
If you want to go that route, take a few photographs of the possessions you want to sell and write detailed descriptions that you can share with potential antique dealers. For example, if you have an antique chest, include the furniture maker’s name and the date and amount paid for it. Be sure to mention (and capture in photos) any restoration or repairs.
Keep in mind that a Dealer is going to resale anything they purchase, so typically a dealer will pay you between 40% and 70% of what they think your antiques are worth. Remember antique dealers makes their money by buying your items for as little as they can, so try not to be offended by offers. It’s not personal, nor is their offer a statement about the quality of the items you want to sell. Let the dealer know you’re taking offers and then sell to the best offer.
Estate Sale Recommendations
When the task at hand is to sell and entire house full of items, an Estate Sale is certainly the fastest option. Consider the following:
- Interview More Than Two
Look over the complete list of companies in your area. Call as many as possible for information about the services they offer.
- Ask The Same Questions
Make a list of questions to ask each company. That way you are comparing apples to apples. They may have a brochure or something they can send you in the mail. Here are some questions you may want to consider asking:
- How many days do you think it will take to set up?
- What is your commission?
- Are there fees besides your commission?
- Do you have insurance? What types?
- How long after the sale will I be paid?
- Do you have an appraiser on staff or access to one?
- What is your field of expertise? Antiques, Art, Furniture, etc?
- How many people do you generally have staff a sale like mine?
- How will my home be left? Broom Clean, Empty, etc?
- Do you or your employees buy items?
- Do you have a store?
- Do you have a contract? Can I take a copy home with me to look over?
- Do you pre-sell or allow people early entry?
- Do you charge sales tax?
- Do you have any sales coming up that I could visit to see how your sales are conducted?
- How many days will the sale itself be?
- When would you be able to do the sale (dates and times)?
- Interview In Person
Once you have narrowed it down to a few companies ask them to come and meet with you. They will want to see what you want liquidated.
- Do NOT Throw Anything Away
Do not throw anything away before meeting with the companies. Every company will tell you this and there is a reason. That “pile of junk” or “that trash” might be worth big money. Seriously…don’t throw anything away until you have an expert look at it.
- Removing Items After An Interview
Realize that most companies work on a percentage so the more they make for you the more they make. Also, realize they may make a bid to you based on what you represent will be for sale. Many will charge a commission once they have started working on the sale and something is removed. If you intend to take items let the companies know on the front end and have it in the contract.
- Visit a Sale
The best way to get a feel for a company is to watch them in action. Go to a sale and don’t let them know who you are. Look and see how it is set up. Interact with their staff at the checkout. Do they treat people with respect? Are they efficient? Look for what is important to you.
- Ask for References
Ask the company for letters of reference and contact information for recent clients. Contact those clients and find out what they liked and what they didn’t like. Ask them specifically “What do you wish would have been done better?”
- Get a Contract
A contract is extremely important. It should detail out when the sale will be held, how much the company is charging, when you will get paid, etc. Do not hire a company without a contract. You should both have a copy of the contract after signing it. A good contract details out what is expected of each party.
The good news is…..there are many different and viable avenues for selling Antiques & Vintage, whether the need is on behalf of someone else, or simply yourself.
Again, I work closely with a wonderful Advisor, and if you are interested in learning more, please email me at marythecuriouscowgirl@Gmail.com .
Best of luck!