Yes…it can work for both!
This year we have been having a good year with our auction business.
There have been some very good quality items coming our way, and overall the prices have been strong. Not what I expected going into this year, with the recession and all, but I am glad it is happening!
Recently a dealer said to me, “you are becoming THE auction to buy and sell through”. That was a nice compliment and I am certainly glad to hear that sort of feedback. Before my head becomes too big, let me just remind myself, that was only one person’s opinion, but it did prompt me to think about a few things.
A person may rightfully ask how a certain auction can be a good place to both buy and sell? If it is a good place to buy, than perhaps it is not a good place to sell? Or vice versa.
I believe you can have an auction that benefits both buyers and sellers. My auctions usually consist of consignments from estates, private sellers, and dealers. Dealers may use the auction to liquidate inventory, or is some cases, dealers may “pick” just for the auction. They can buy some items that sell better through auction than they would in their store or booth. A dealer recently put a load of “rough and as found” items through my auction and was quite pleased that they only lost $3 on the entire load. These were items they bought with the intentions of restoring and just didn’t get around to doing, so they put them through auction. They didn’t consign to make money, they were just happy to get their money back, and move on. Of course other people now own the items and they may get restored and provide someone with a nice profit.
Some dealers buy just to put through auction and because they don’t have to factor in overhead in the price, they are happy with a reasonable return on their items. They make their money through volume sales.
With estates, often it is simply a case of removing the items from the home so the estate can be settled. Most cases involve the real estate having been sold, so the antique household contents are not the “big money” items in the estate. I recently sold some very nice items from a Toronto estate for about $4000. However, the house went on the market and sold in a day for $650,000. The antique contents that were important to me, and of course to the persons who bought them, really were not significant to the overall estate. However, I often do get estate items that hold great sentimental value to some family members, but they simply cannot accommodate them, so they are happy to see them go to another home. One woman recently told me she got great comfort from coming to the auction and seeing her mother’s items sell to enthusiastic and appreciative buyers.
The final source for many items recently has been the 50 plus generation and their parents downsizing. Many people have accumulated nice antiques over the last 30 years, but tastes do change, as well as lifestyles, so it is time to part with these items. Some people do a complete change in their décor. One consignor recently moved from an old Victorian home filled with antiques to a brand new home filled with completely new furniture. She simply said it was time for a change, and now the items can move onto new owners.
Most times people ask me for an estimate as to what the items may bring in auction. I quote them what I feel are realistic prices based on what I have sold or have seen sell through auction recently. I will not knowingly over estimate the value of a good item, just to ensure I get it for auction, and then apologize later because it sold for a fraction of what I estimated. I make sure potential consignors understand there is a risk, there are no guarantees as to price, we will simply do the best we can for them. The market will decide the price and they must be prepared for that. I have sold on behalf of 100’s of consignors over the years, and even though there are at times disappointments, I have had very few people complain about the final results through the auction.
So, I believe you can have a good auction for both buyers and sellers. When you have a knowledgeable realistic seller, and knowledgeable buyers, it can work well for everyone!
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